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Where did civilian coats come from?

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  • Where did civilian coats come from?

    I know the long answer to the question in the title: "When a mommy coat and a daddy coat love each other very much... "

    But the short answer I'm looking for is:

    In general, when Confederate soldiers were wearing civilian sack coats, were the coats purchased by the quartermaster (on the used clothing market maybe) and issued to them like uniform coats?

    Or was it something that they were forced to obtain on their own, only when their uniform coat wore out and no new issue coat was forthcoming?

    Or was it a voluntary choice: either accept an issued coat or supply your own?

    I tried a search and of course found many examples of Confederates wearing civilian coats, and event guidelines mentioning them as acceptable, but I'm trying to figure out why a soldier would have one. Just another issued item beyond his control? Another sign of lack of support from the army? Or a personal fashion statement?

    If it matters, I'm thinking particularly of the 1862 Maryland campaign.

    Hank Trent
    Hank Trent

  • #2
    Re: Where did civilian coats come from?

    Could it have anything to do with the commutation system used early in the war?
    Bernard Biederman
    30th OVI
    Co. B
    Member of Ewing's Foot Cavalry
    Outpost III


    • #3
      Re: Where did civilian coats come from?

      Many found their way into the ranks thru the "Great Appeals", as documented in the book "Cadet Gray & Butternut Brown". Best regards.
      Last edited by Secesh; 07-30-2007, 10:11 AM.
      Tom "Mingo" Machingo
      Independent Rifles, Weevil's Mess

      Vixi Et Didici

      "I think and highly hope that this war will end this year, and Oh then what a happy time we will have. No need of writing then but we can talk and talk again, and my boy can talk to me and I will never tire of listening to him and he will want to go with me everywhere I go, and I will be certain to let him go if there is any possible chance."
      Marion Hill Fitzpatrick
      Company K, 45th Georgia Infantry
      KIA Petersburg, Virginia


      • #4
        Re: Where did civilian coats come from?

        Does anyone have the Fremantle quote about the AOT in the summer of 1863 handy?
        Last edited by brown; 07-30-2007, 07:05 AM. Reason: spelling
        Pat Brown


        • #5
          Re: Where did civilian coats come from?


          I have tried to work out where I got this in the O.R's but things appear and dis-appear in there all the time, so sorry.

          I assume that Q.M's bought up civilian stock as and when, from whatever source was available, including collections. I hope this may help.

          List of Quartermaster Stores in charge Maj. J. H. McMahon Q. M. at Meridian Miss., August 24, 1862.

          Number Articles Remarks

          199 Army Caps 19 damaged
          18 Hats Black Wool
          300 Jackets Assorted
          2011 Army Overcoats With Capes
          210 Army Overcoats Without Capes
          1647 Coats and Five Overcoats Assorted, Citizens style
          16 Coats, but Trimmed and Remade, Military
          254 Linen and Cotton Summer Coats
          532 Pairs of Pants Assorted
          40 Pairs of Pants Unmade
          1984 Shirts Assorted
          5043 Pairs of drawers
          937 Pairs of socks
          262 Pairs of Cotton socks Light
          274 Pairs of Boots Assorted
          400 Pairs of Shoes Assorted
          7 Oil Cloth Knapsacks
          69 Oil Cloth Cloaks
          6 Pairs of Oil Cloth Overalls
          114 Oil Cloth Cap Covers
          35 Oil Cloth Havelocks
          297 Blankets Assorted, Mostly Carpet
          106 Haversacks
          [SIZE="2"][/SIZE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"][SIZE="3"]John Hopper[/SIZE][/FONT]
          [SIZE="2"][SIZE="1"][SIZE="2"]Winston Free-State/First Confederate Legion/AoT
          Member of The Company of Military Historians[/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE]


          • #6
            Re: Where did civilian coats come from?

            Thank you! "Great appeal" and "commutation" were the words I needed to look for. So not only would it have probably been issued, it would have probably been quite a few months old by the fall of 1862.

            Hank Trent
            Hank Trent


            • #7
              Re: Where did civilian coats come from?

              Civilian clothes from home. In the fall of 1862, after the Kentucky campaign and as winter set in, the Florida Regiments in the west (Army of Tennessee (at least the 3rd Fla) and Department of East Tennessee (1st Fla. Cav, 6th Fla, 7th Fla.) were ordered to detach an NCO or officer from each company to return to their home state to gather clothing from the men's families. The Quartermaster Dept. was to pay for the transportation of these goods to the troops. In fact, the records note these were general orders for all units in the Dept. of E. Tenn. under Kirby Smith at the time. One 7th Florida privates' letters (Pvt. Edmund Lee) from this time period note in detail to his wife in Manatee Co. Fla. which of his garments he wanted at the front...

              James "Archie" Marshall
              James "Archie" Marshall
              The Buzzard Club (Saltmakers for the south)
              Tampa, FL


              • #8
                Re: Where did civilian coats come from?

                As the fellow above me has noted, fellows simply wrote home asking for items and they were sent via mail in parcels/packages.

                Period letters and journals are chock full of references to this sort of thing, eve units with great space between them and home.

                I've read of requests for coats, overcoats, shirts, trousers, socks, drawers, etc. They were sporadic in arriving of course but it happened with regularity.

                I've also read accounts of men swapping or selling within units and with other units, as well as with prisoners.

                Others may have bought or impressed items during campaigns. One fellow noted in his diary that during the fall 1862 invasion of Kentucky his shoes failed and he bought a pair of boots from a civilian home that they passed by.

                I would think that few civilian-style sack coats would have been issued by the quartermaster.

                My two cents,
                Fred Baker

                "You may call a Texian anything but a gentleman or a coward." Zachary Taylor