View Full Version : Enlisted trousers for Federal company officers?
02-05-2004, 06:52 PM
Let's try this again...
I am looking for opinions on the subject of Federal junior officers being allowed to purchase, or wear, enlisted trousers from the QM. I read one report that discussed this practice within a Massachusetts regiment following Antietam, when they were suddenly short on company officers and had to commission replacements. Apparently it was not practical to have the new officers custom order everything while on campaign so certain items like trousers, greatcoats, etc, were allowed to be purchased from the QM. I also suspect that many of the new officers did not have the family wealth to get top quality items while on campaign.
What I am trying to find out is how common this pratice was. Just because there's one instance of this happening doesn't necessarily mean it was commonplace. If anyone has opinions on this matter, I would love some help. Thank you!
02-06-2004, 04:44 AM
While I can't offer any documented sources to help you with an answer. I will give you a common sence approach (I know the Army doesn't always make sence). 2nd Lt. I.M. Lost, heads out on campaign with his tailored frock, vest and matching trowsers. After a few days march the trowsers start to wear in the crotch area, and along the cuffs. If he was to remain on campaign for, lets say, 30 days his trowsers will be near to threads. When he gets to a permanent camp, he goes to the QM to purchase (against his coming pay) a pair of issue pants to wear while he is waiting to be paid so he can have a new uniform made. When the money comes in and the new clothing made, he stashes the enlisted pants in extra baggage, and next time he learns of an upcoming campaign he carries the issue style as back up.
Seems I recall having seen an officer in an old photo once that was wearing enlisted stuff.
Hopefully someone will chime in with some documantation either way.
02-06-2004, 08:15 AM
Check into the book by DeForrest, "A Volunteer's Adventures." I can't put my hand on my copy right now or I'd look for you. If my memory is correct, he talked about wearing a complete enlisted uniform (sack coat, shirt and trousers) during the campaign when he was in VA. He then talked about buying a new suit as soon as possible when he got back to, I think, Washington.
As I said, please don't take this as truth, read the book. I can't put my hand on mine right now and am going off memory.
02-06-2004, 09:02 AM
I don't have any way to prove this, but I believe that officers would wear enlisted uniforms while on campaign. It's my believe that when you're being shot at, you don't want to make yourself stand out. I don't have them in front of me but there are numerous accounts of soldiers being told to aim at the officers during battle.
If anyone can document this it would be greatly appreciated.
02-06-2004, 09:16 AM
One practice that seems to have been reasonably common for officers (at least the company-grade ones) was drawing "cavalry trousers." I've seen this practice mentioned at least twice. The one particular mention I remember off-hand was found in an unpublished diary entry by the Captain of Company F, 10th Indiana Volunteer Infantry who, as I recall, got a pair of cavalry trousers around the time of the Chattanooga Campaign (Aug/Sep 63).
There is also that famous c.1863 image of Albion Tourgee, 105th Ohio, and two fellow officers posing in what appear to be enlisted-issue hats and trousers. This photo has been posted on numerous websites.
02-06-2004, 11:14 AM
IMO..and common sense way of thinking here, and feel free to bash me a top the head if you will but, I think you guys are reaching hard for something that is easily within reach already. First off, trousers would not begin to wear out in a few days of receiving them , definately not worn out within 30 days, thus requiring a new pair. Furthermore, trousers are trousers, and officers wore what he could get get when needed, paying for them out of his account of course. For campaign purposes, officers wear what is most readily available to them. Formal occasions would would/could necesitate something more along the lines of a tailored pair of trousers, having a better fit and look to them.
If it's a particular company that you portray and research, then perhaps pick that one officer and let him be your guiding impression. Hopefully a picture, account ledgers, original uniforms belonging to this person exist.
02-06-2004, 11:23 AM
This is the above-referenced picture. They do appear to be wearing enlisted trousers.
Hope this helps.
02-06-2004, 11:27 AM
Okay, this thread is getting silly again and if it keeps going in that direction I'm going to shut it down again.
If you want to talk about subjects like this, you need to provide documentation. Posts like, "I don't have any way to prove this, but I believe..." simply aren't going to fly.
This is pretty basic stuff. Diaries, images and even the regulations offer data on the subject. Officers on both sides were able to buy trousers from the QM so yes, officers wore enlisted trousers. The authenticity of this practice depends on the scenario and the impression. For example, a junior officer in the field in VA in 1864 would be more likely to be wearing enlisted trousers than a staff Lt serving at the War Department or in a garrison post.
As with all things, research and, as Mark mentions, common sense have to be used.
02-06-2004, 07:04 PM
Mark, comrade I will strongly beg to differ with you on this issue. 30 days of campaign in Tennessee or Georgia will easily ruin a pair of pants. Trust me here, personal experience. Remind me sometime to show you my first ever pair of trowsers I made, they've had fewer than 30 days usage and they are trashed.
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