History Quest: Civil War Uniforms

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History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

This Quest’s topic is near and dear to Rebecca’s fashion designing heart. What did soldiers on both sides wear? Did they wear pajamas? What kinds of guns did they carry and how? Get ready for today’s History Quest: Civil War Uniforms.

Union Uniforms

Let’s see if you can find out some information about uniforms for the Union Army.

  • What itchy fabric made up most of the uniforms?
  • Cotton from home was preferred. Why was it rare during the war?
  • Standard Union uniforms featured a dark blue shirt with how many brass buttons?
  • Early in the war Union soldiers’ standard issue pants were dark blue. In 1862 this was changed to what?
  • They wore leather shoes which laced up around their ankles. These had a very specific name. What were they called?
  • What kind of hat was most common? What did the symbol on the front of the hat mean?
  • What kind of guns did infantrymen carry and use?
  • How much did an average soldier’s gear weigh?
  • What was the standard issue gear for a Union soldier?

If you could pick a few things to add to your pack, what would you take?

History Quest- Civil War UniformsConfederate Uniforms

How about the Confederate uniforms? Were they similar? How were they different?

  • Most Confederates wore gray, right? Wrong! What color did the majority of Confederate soldiers actually wear?
  • What nickname did the collar of their uniforms earn them?
  • The south had plenty of cotton, but what did the north have that prevented them from making many shoes?
  • Did you know that denim was around during The Civil War? What part of a typical Confederate uniform was made of cotton denim?
  • Why were Confederate uniforms heavily influenced by Union uniforms?

Making Your Own Civil War Uniform

History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

Each year our homeschool group hosts a Civil War Ball in the spring. What began as the culmination to one family’s unit on the war, has developed into an annual event for our group. Part of the process is preparing the gown and the uniforms. In the past Ethan has dressed as a civilian just like Dan (my husband), but this year he was a Union soldier like his younger brother. Rebecca, as you may have guessed, makes a new gown each year.

We used the directions from Time Travelers Civil War by Homeschool in the Woods to turn a navy blue sport coat into a Union jacket. You can do the same with the Confederate uniforms. We have even had brothers show up wearing uniforms from opposing sides!

What did we need?

  • Navy blue sport coat- acquired from the thrift store. I couldn’t find a boys’ size that I needed so I looked for small women’s coats instead. It was kinda hard to partially disassemble a Talbot’s wool jacket! You have to be strong.
  • Brass buttons– I hit a second hand sewing shop for this one and came up strong. I also used the buttons from the sleeves.
  • Gold ribbon– for the collar
  • Yellow fabric– to make the sash for the soldier’s uniform

It wasn’t hard to do at all, but aligning the buttons took some time. We were in a hurry so we could also use a better fastener at the top of the jacket. Next year!


History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

I promise a post on How to Host a Civil War Ball very soon! For now, enjoy learning more about what the uniforms were like so you are ready to make your own!

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    1. Thanks Stephanie! I will tell the kids your husband thought the costumes are cool. They’ll love that!

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