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US Buttons On Confederate Jackets`

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  • US Buttons On Confederate Jackets`

    Were US buttons ever very common on Confederate jackets?
    Mark Aman

  • #2
    Your simple question, actually has a somewhat complicated answer.

    From my experience in studying (mostly) "Richmond Depot" uniforms, the answer is US "eagle " buttons do appear on a few jackets but it isn't obvious in all such cases whether they were original to the jacket or added later and, if so, when. I did a brief survey of the jackets/coats I have studied (including ones I only have photographs for) and of 31 examples (all from the Eastern theater) 5 or roughly 16% have US buttons. Of those, one has US staff buttons and two others are US "I eagle" buttons that may be pre war. The other 26 examples break down: twelve are state seal buttons (MD, VA, SC, NC, GA, and LA ), five generic Confederate (I.A,C), five are Gibson Brothers wooden buttons, and four are indeterminate or are civilian.

    Some thoughts. This does not necessarily reflect other theaters (AOT, "deep" South, Trans- Mississippi, etc.) Also, the period of the war is significant. During the middle of the war (from October 1862 to the first half of 1864) the RCB purchased 4 Million wooden coat sized buttons from the Gibson Brothers for use (mainly) on issue RD jackets. During that timeframe they were probably fairly ubiquitous in what was being issued. The fact that based upon surviving examples some Confederate soldiers in the field replaced their wooden buttons at some point with more “military” appearing brass buttons (e.g. state seal buttons, etc.) probably indicates that while functional, they may not necessarily have been cherished by the rank and file privates who received those garments. Some of those replacements could have been US "eagle" buttons "picked up" in the field.

    In the early years of the war Richmond was receiving large shipments of S. Issacs and Campbell buttons purchased by Caleb Huse of the CS Ordinance Department in England and by 1864 large shipments of English buttons were again being received through the blockade. Also early in the war civilian, prewar stocks of US and State buttons, and domestically produced generic CS "I", "A", and "C" buttons were all used in unknown quantities.

    There may have been a tendency after the war for veterans to replace the "old" buttons on their souvenir jackets for display or other reasons. Also soldiers of certain states (Maryland, in particular) seem to have had a tendency to make these changes again based upon their prevalence on surviving examples.

    The point is that only a modest percentage of the buttons on Eastern jackets which exist today have US buttons, most were probably later additions to the ones present on the jackets "as issued" and State seal button replacements are by far more common than those.

    If you are interested in the story for other theaters, I recommend that you look at Fred Adolphus' web site for "deep" South and Trans-Mississippi examples.

    Dick Milstead
    The Company of Military Historians
    Liberty Rifles
    Last edited by rmilstead; 08-28-2021, 02:35 PM.
    Richard Milstead


    • #3

      Mark, Dr. Milstead wrote an extensive article about Richmond Depot Jackets. You ought to take a look: Click Here.
      Former AC Owner