16th Tennessee Volunteer
Clothing, Arms and Equipment
Part 1 Clothing
the 6 May 1861 the 'Volunteer' State seceded and just the day after it entered
into military league with the Confederate States. On the 16 May 1861 the
joined the Confederacy. But by the 14 May 1861 men were marching together
throughout Tennessee to join a Tennessee army. , June 1862: 'All of our brigade went out to be reviewed by Mager General Poke and by
Brigadier Donelson....We was inspected guns,
canteens, knapsacks, clothing and all some of us had was what we had
This State would field approximately 186,000 men organized in 110 Regiments, 33 Battalions, and 54 independent companies or batteries
The State and Confederate Governments were never able to produce enough uniforms so when in 1861 officers applied to Montgomery, the Capitol at this time, for uniforms they were informed that 'volunteers shall furnish their own clothes.' Regimental Commanders were also instructed to 'draw from the military store cloth, lining, trimmings, and thread for uniforming', this would allow military companies and volunteer aid societies to make the uniforms. Funds also were either obtained from local authorities or donated by businessmen to supply the units.
By the 29 May 29 1861 photographic evidence shows the first units were receiving single-breasted frock coats with facing colour on collar and cuffs, the cuffs being pointed and with three buttons at its centre. A private in the 8th Tennessee wrote: 'We are now receiving our uniform and the State is going to uniform all the troops alike. Colour of the uniform will be gray.' On the 29 June 1861 a private of the 14th Tennessee wrote 'We will draw our regimental uniform this evening. We drawed our company uniform on the 14th of this month but it is no comparison. We have more clothes that we can carry.'
In April the ladies of Nashville formed the Centre Female Military Aid Society, which became the Soldier's Friend Society, and by 19 June had enrolled 231 ladies. On 19 April 1861 two women in Memphis had formed 'an association for the purpose of serving the several companies in the city by making flags, uniforms etc', the South Memphis Patriotic Ladies Association. By the end of April the ladies of Fayetteville had formed a society for making clothing. The Lebanon Soldiers Aid Society, of Wilson County, produced the cloth and made uniforms. By the 14 June 14 the Memphis Daily Appeal was reported that 'In school rooms, in the basements of churches, and in private houses, hundreds ... have met day by day.....to ply the needle, in making garments and uniforms.'
Whilst at Camp Trousdale, May 1861, the Regiment were issued uniforms, a member of the 8th Tennessee, a sister Regiment encamped with them, stated that the uniforms 'ranged from butternut jeans to the finest articles of French cloth.' But another member of the 8th about the same time said 'we are now receiving our uniform and the State is going to uniform all the troops alike. Color of the uniform will be gray, and it looks very nice, and when the sixteen thousand troops here are all uniformed alike, we will present as fine looking front as any troops in the world.'
Officers of the Regiment in June 1861 (as well as officers of other Regiments) were described as wearing 'dark blue frock coat with light-coloured trim around the bottom of the collar only, plain sleeves.'
In August 1861, the Military and Financial Board placed a notice in the Fayetteville Observer appealing to 'the wives, mothers and daughters of Tennessee to manufacture woolen goods and stockings for those who are defending their homes' also to ‘prepare goods for one suit of clothing and knit two pairs of stockings. If this shall be done, every soldier will be amply clothed & provided against the suffering of a winter campaign.' And two weeks later in the Memphis Daily Avalanche they were asked to make for each man 'Two pair of pants of heavy brown or grey mixed jeans....One roundabout, or army jacket, of the same material....One heavy vest of jeans, linsey or kersey. One overshirt, of some woolen or mixed goods. One or two pairs of drawers....Two pair of heavy woolen socks. One good blanket....An overcoat, or a loose sack coat, or hunting shirt with belt.'
Sam Watson, 1st Tennessee Infantry: 'Summer clothing arrived to be distributed....from the home's and family's of the men themselves. This consignment was greatly augmented by 'ladies' associations,'....nothing seemed too good for them to sacrifice. Beautiful silk dresses (and other materials) had been cut up to make tunics for the soldiers.'
Daniel Rouse, 7th Tennessee, 14 August 1861 wrote 'our clothes are beginning to give out and worst of it is we cannot get anymore.'
Henry Graves, 2nd Georgia Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia, 21 August 1861 'send me a coat ; let her make it of that grey woolen cloth she once made me a hunting coat from....It must be a jacket, buttoning all the way up in front military fashion, with a short collar designed to stand up; buttons either brass or silver, oval shape, nearly half inch in diameter....'
On the 27 October 1861 'The boys got shirts, shoes, pantaloons, coats and overcoats, some of which latter garments survived the war.'
Even with this the Regiment were poorly supplied by the Government and while in (West) Virginia, late 1861, 'Captains of individual companies were ordered to ascertain their wants of their respective commands, and report a list of same, to be sent by a detailed officer to our homes in Tennessee to solicit supplies.'
The 20 November 1861 saw these items arrive from home arrived 'two or three car-loads of these stores' they included '...blankets, quilts, coats and almost anything to wear you could think of.'
Also while in (West) Virginia 'day after day we marched over muddy roads and snow covered mountains....almost without clothing.'
A member of Samuel R. Anderson Brigade at that time wrote 'Most of the boys are now strutting around with their 'Tennessee Clothes' on', while another commented 'at last we are once more comfortably clothed. Although we do not make a very uniform appearance, some having light and gray, and others dark coloured clothing.'
Jas Morris Skelton, 11th Tennessee Infantry: 'Fix up my over coat in as small bundle as possible....and send it to me...tell Ma to send me a pair of linsy drawers....tell Lon to send me a pair of thick gloves.'
Lucy Virginia French from McMinnville, wrote in her diary for 30th November 1862: 'We made shirts and pants for them (the 9th Texas) and I took up my carpets and made blankets for them.'
In October 1861 Joseph Carey, an Artilleryman, wrote 'we received a uniform this morning from the citizens of Panola County and also a goodly number of blankets and under clothes....'
A hand-tinted image of Private Robert Patterson 55th Tennessee Infantry, raised in February 1862, shows a nine-button dark blue-gray frock coat and pants, with light blue solid collar and cuffs.
On the19 April 1862 while at Corinth Michael Manzy 'brought a cap and shirt'
In a General Review of the Army of Tennessee
22 July 1862 and 'At 0200 all up we drawed a few cloth six pair of pants to the company a few shoes a few drawers. I got one pair of pants. needed a shirt very much but they was none for me.'
7 August and Michael Manzy 'brought a hat, a shirt, a pair of drawers, sock, suspenders and a handkerchief.'
19 August 1862: 'The men were awakened at three a.m. and drew some pants, shoes and drawers, 'no shirts'.'
18 October 1862 when camped near Barboursville on the Cumberland river the drew 'coats.'
On 28 October 1862 troop details were sent home to gather winter clothing, 'our friends being regarded as much more reliable source from whom we might draw than the general government, it being rather poorly supplied.'
And on the 7th December 1862 she wrote: 'There is one Regiment here....The 20th Alabama....they are being furnished with shoes clothing, etc. Every shoemakers shop is 'pressed' as also saddler’s....etc.'
By late 1862 records in the East show woolen cloth still wasn't being produced in any significant quantity and in 1863 about 90% of all material produced for the Richmond depot was jean cloth and cassimere, with the West having similar problems. These materials were usually grey or brownish-grey produced by natural dyes such as sweet gum bark, logwood, and sumac, although these faded due to exposure to the sun producing a variety of brownish/earth-toned tones.
In October 1863, near Chattanooga, troops within the Army of Tennessee were being issued 'jackets of kearsy, blue cuffs, pants, worsted' and 'coats are dark and light grey (mostly with blue collar and cuffs.) The pants light and dark gray.... it is worsted, a cross between cassimere and jeans.'
Washington Ives, 4th Florida Infantry wrote, October 14th, 1863: 'I drew a tolerable pair of pants on Sunday.... the jackets, drawers and shirts were so inferior that I did not take any. You may send me the old jacket of mine....'
Then on the October 21st, 1863: 'just drawing some excellent clothing. Jackets of kearsy, blue cuffs, pants, worsted indescribable, shoes, caps, shirts, etc.'
And on the October 31st, 1863 'just drawn comfortable winter clothing and blankets. The coats are dark and light grey (mostly with blue collar and cuffs) The pants light and dark grey, similar goods to the jackets.... a cross between cashmere and jeans, very warm and durable.'
Finally November 1st, 1863: 'The pants and jackets are of superior army goods. The caps and underclothing are miserable.... Quantities of new English blankets have been issued, a single one is large enough to cover a double bed....'
Henry Yates Thompson, Nashville, 17 November 1863: 'an open space where were congregated some fifty or sixty men (prisoners) in various faded shades of butternut..... Only one of the prisoners hail a uniform....the mass of Rebels in the West fight in their common clothes.'
And on the 23 November 1863, Battle of Chattannoga: 'a batch of about 200 Rebel prisoners were brought in, rough and ragged men with no vestige of a uniform, but with good shoes and looking well fed.'
Finally after the Battle of Chattanooga, 27 November 1863: 'I saw three or four dead Rebels....The first gave me quite a shock. I came on him quite suddenly, his butternut clothing being the same colour as the leaves he was lying on; his head and feet were bare ... The next man lay on his face...holes in his boots.'
About 27 June 1864, Kennesaw Mountain?: ' We were getting ragged and never got a chance to wash our rags except to wade into Creek River or pond, pull off, rub and scrub without soap, rinse the best we could, wade out, put them on wet, and be ready for any order.'
Confederates captured near Atlanta, in 1864, are described by a Sergeant-Major, from Ohio, 'Those brought in yesterday were veterans of Hardee's Corps....they wear grey pants, grey jeans 'roundabouts', with blue cuffs and collars.' The grey ran from a very brownish colour to a very dark colour.
On the 13 November Thomas Head wrote: 'winter was now setting in with its severest rigor, and many of the men were.... destitute of many other articles of clothing.' Ressinor Etter noted "we are looking for some clothing they are much needed. The men are in destitute circumstances.... and have no pants." On the retreat from Nashville, January 1865 we find that the 'clothes worn out.'
Due to the shortages of material the typical jacket worn by Confederate soldiers was single-breasted, short-waisted, with low standing collar, the 'shell' jacket. The buttons varied from five to nine, although eight has been claimed for the Army of Tennessee. About a third of the jackets had shoulder straps, some would have belt loops, with most having a pocket inside the left breast pocket, some had pockets on the outside. These could be made of wool, satinette, kersey, cassimere or jean cloth.
About 30% of troops wore frock coats, either single or double breasted, while others wore captured sack coats which had been bleached and then dyed.
The grey ran from a very brownish colour to a very dark colour, General James Longstreet was shot by 'friendly fire' whilst leading Confederate troops that were wearing a very dark grey jackets that other Confederates though were Federal troops.
Until 1864 brown was the more common colour. Known as 'butternut' this was produced by mixing the oily nut of the white walnut tree and the copperas. This produced a colour that varied 'from a deep coffee brown up to the whitish brown of ordinary dust.'
The linings for the jackets were usually 'polished' cotton in white, brown or black. But could be lined in osnaburg, waverly or plain cotton drill.
Civilian 'Homespun' sack coat.
These were rough jackets made at home for their men in the Regiments. They would be civilian style with, or without, turned-down collar with one or more pockets and made in jeans cloth or wool, but could be possibly satinettes or broadcloths. They had between four and seven buttons.
'Commutation' Jackets: With the Government unable to produce enough uniforms officers were informed 'volunteers shall furnish their own clothes' with the money for this being commuted, hence the name. This does not refer to a particular style of jacket.
State Issue: Tennessee produced dark blue/grey frock coats up until early 1863, with nine or seven buttons, made in jeans cloth with medium blue facings on collars and cuffs for issue in early 1862, and they appear in numerous photographs. Trousers also appear to be the same colour.
Confederate Depot Issue:
Army of Northern Virginia: A number of men were exchanged through City Point Virginia, in 1862/63, if they needed a jacket, then they would have received a Richmond Depot Jacket (either type II, with shoulder straps and belt loops, or the III), but these numbers would be extremely small. Made of 'cadet grey' wool kersey, or jeans cloth, with nine buttons.
Columbus (Georgia) Jackets: These were issued from Autumn 1862 until Winter 1864, types I and II, the type II having an exterior pocket. They would in the main have six buttons, but could have five or even seven. From the surviving originals, and a number of illustrations surviving this jacket must have seen widespread issue to the Regiment during the war.
Atlanta Depot Jackets: A basic 'salt and pepper' gray jacket without trim colors with six buttons. The back of the jacket angles to a point, similar to the early Columbus Depot Jacket. A peculiar feature of this jacket is that the front edge of the jacket on the left side aligns with the edge of the collar, causing the front edge of the jacket to fall off the centerline of the body.
Department of Alabama: Undoubtedly some of the unit would have been issued these late in the war, 1864-5. They were of light brown woolen jeans cloth, dark blue collar (not cuffs) and a five button front and exterior slash pocket.
Department of North Carolina: These jackets were issued in large numbers towards the end of the war, North Carolina jackets have a six button front, made from burlap weave wool or jeans cloth.
Mobile Jackets (Mystery/other Jackets): Made from light grey jean cloth, with a exterior slash pocket, with a seven button front.
Using surviving uniforms and photos its obvious that facings on all types of jacket, shell, sack or frock, in the Army of the Tennessee, weren't common, and as the war progresses became rare:
none 30 (61%)
collar and cuffs dark (dark blue or black?) 5 (11%)
collar only dark (dark blue black?) 4 (8%)
collar and cuffs light (light blue?) 4 (8%)
collar only light (light blue?) 2 (2%)
collar only red 1 (2%)
piped collar, cuffs and midline 4 (8%)
The military type jackets in the photographic evidence of Tennessee soldiers are Tennessee Issue; Confederate Government Depot Issue; or Commutation/home jackets, although there are only five jackets are in existence that are credited to Tennessee Regiments:
one is a brown jean cloth shell jacket, no facings, with 6 US staff buttons. (4th Tennessee)
one is a brown jean cloth civilian tail coat, with red band around collar, and 9 brass coin buttons. (6th Tennessee)
one is a dark grey kersey wool shell jacket, , with 10 US eagle buttons. (20th Tennessee)
one is a ‘cadet gray’ kersey wool shell jacket, with black cuff and collars, and 7 US enlisted buttons. (24th Tennessee)
one is a ‘cadet gray’ kersey wool shell jacket, with black cuff and collars, and 8 US staff buttons. (3rd Tennessee)
Seventeen photos exist of members of the Regiment wearing uniforms of some type. All photos are in Original Members:
1/ Colonel John Houston Savage: this is a prewar photo.
2 and 16/ Captain J. (H.) L Duncan:
2/ this is a post war photo, but could give the clue that he wore a frock coat during the war.
16/ this is too small to see.
3/ Lieutenant Carroll Henderson Clark: once again this is a post war photo, but could give the clue that he wore a frock coat during the war.
4/ Sergeant Major Thomas Benton Potter: this is most likely a Columbus Dept jacket, with possibly medium blue collar and cuffs. the photo is believed to have been taken in 1863.
5/ Private George E. Purvis: in this photo he is wearing his uniform when he was a member of (Captain Arthur M.) Rutledge's (Tennessee Light Artillery) Battery.
6/ Private James Alexander Boyd: this is a post was photo of him wearing a cavalry uniform.
7/ Private Russell Lassiter Brown: this is most likely a commutation jacket, the photo is believed to have been taken along with others at Camp Trousdale.
8/ Private Benjamin Rowland: wears what is a dark coloured jacket, this could be part of the 21 October 1863 issue which would go with his light coloured trousers, if so the photo could have been taken then.
9/ Private Hiram (Pomp) Taylor Kersey (Kearsy Keirsey Kersy): while the photo is small, and of poor quality, this seems to show a dark coloured commutation jacket. Once again the photo could have been taken at Camp Trousdale. Another possibility is 1864, although this date is highly unlikely.
10/ Private John Payton Mayberry (Maberry): as the photo is very small nobody is happy to make any comment.
11/ Captain Calvin C. Brewer: the uniform is based on the US 1840 Militia Regulations, rather than 1840 Tennessee Militia Regulations, but if this is what he wore this when he first joined the Regiment is unknown.
12-13-14/ Major Joseph H. Goodbar along with Captains James M. Parks and Lucien Napoleon Savage: these are drawings and as such should be treated with care until the original photos come to light.
15/ Private John Alexander Brogden: the family were given to believe that this was a Commutation jacket.
17 Private Andrew Jackson Lacy: dressed in cavalry uniform he wore with 8th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment (Smith's).
Civilian 'homespun' Contemporary diaries and memoirs list brown jean cloth as the most common civilian work-trouser of the time, and the most requested from home. There are six pairs illustrated in Echoes of Glory in varying shades of brown, from buff to dark brown. These had a button fly and were high waisted they also had 2 or 4 hole buttons of bone, lead or tin.
Usually they were made of wool, although the use of brown jean cloth was widespread. These were to be seen patched in all colours and 'any material they could get. One man had the seat of his pants patched with bright red, and his knees patched with black. Another used a piece of grey or brown blanket.'
Military issue of which only a few pairs exist, were often made in the same colours as the jacket, they also had a button fly and were high waisted. Due to shortages many captured Federal 'Kersey-blue' ones were worn but 'blue is a bad colour unless it is a very light blue. I shoot at blue clothes myself' stated one Confederate.
'Richmond Depot' style with mule ear pockets, top fly button hole on the outside (top button shows when buttoned), and a buckle on a rear adjuster belt.
'Georgia Relief' style with side seam pockets and a reversed top button (no buttons show on the exterior when buttoned). Two pairs exist both with bone buttons. (Side seamed pockets are well documented in the West).
'Other issue' style with side seam pockets, a button fastened rear adjuster belt, top fly button hole on the outside (top button shows when buttoned), one has no rear lower waist-belt lining, the other has. Two pairs exist one pair with bone buttons the other with wood.
Photo 7 shows pale coloured trousers that have a stripe down the seam but as he is wearing a Columbus Depot Jacket, issued in October 1863, which most likely has blue collar and cuffs this would seem the likely colour. Other photographs show men from other Tennessee units with similar trousers, that were either at Camp Trousdale or took part in the Cheat Mountain campaign, with striped trousers seen in quite a few photographs taken during 1861-62 period. These trousers seem to be 'militia' type trousers.
Photo 8 shows pale coloured trousers with what could be a strip down the trouser leg.
On 15 June 1861 Company H were issued 98 grey pants. Usually they made with 2 pockets: as there were no belt loops buttons of wood, bone, or metal were added so as to be able to attach braces (suspenders). They were made with a small slit at the bottom of the leg, and no turn-ups.
Most trousers were made in the same colours as the jackets. With the shortage of trousers many captured Federal 'Kersey-blue' ones were worn but 'blue is a bad colour unless it is a very light blue. I shoot at blue clothes myself' stated one Confederate.
These were to be seen patched in all colours and 'any material they could get. One man had the seat of his pants patched with bright red, and his knees patched with black. Another used a piece of grey or brown blanket.'
After the 13th October 1864: 'winter was now setting in with its severest rigor, and many of the men were barefooted and destitute of many other articles of clothing.'
Possibly a little later the same month 'we are looking for some clothing they are much needed. The men are in destitute circumstances, many barefooted and have no pants.'
These weren't issued, although, they were a typical item worn by all, most especially in winter. The front was made from a light-weight wool, in grey or brown, or cotton/wool blend, with a white cotton lining. The backs were usually brown or black 'polished' cotton.
Army regulations stated each man be issued with three flannel shirts per year. Fabrics were woven natural fibers many were white or unbleached muslim, with the most common colours being red and white; although blue and white striped cotton; blue linen; yellow check and birds eye calico also existed, many were civilian. In the main shirts central government seem to have been able to keep up an amble supply throughout the war.
One of the photos shows a shirt collar that appears to be a fold-down design, this is typical of what can be seen today.
On 15 June 1861 Company H were issued with 98 red and grey flannel shirts. And on 1 July they were issued 86 red flannel shirts.
The 29 Sep 1861 saw 'four or five thousand men stripped to their red shirts, with knapsack and gun upon their shoulders, wading, splashing, and yelling through that cold lake, almost to their armpits in water...', the 16th were among these.
On the march from Little Sewell to Dublin Depot, October 1861, the troops crossed a river and there were 'four to five thousand men stripped to the waist in their red shirts,.....', once again the 16th were among these.
These were either civilian or military pattern with bone or wood buttons. With central government seeming to have had adequate supplies throughout the war. Summer wear would be cotton but winter wear flannelette, like long johns with a button fly and tape ties at the waist and ankles.
On 15 June 1861 Company H were issued 98 pairs of drawers. White cotton drawers were supplied in abundance, but were noted for there poor fit; October 1863 'drawers and shirts were so inferior that I did not take any...'; November 1863 the 'underclothing are miserable...'
October 1862 Carroll H. Clark 'bought a bushel of shorts and put in our company wagon, but at night when I went for them they were gone.'
General order number four stated that they were to be made of cadet grey cloth; double breasted; cape to reach to the elbows; with a stand up collar; and to button all the way up, with the number of buttons 18. In reality rarely were greatcoats issued, and most of those come from England. At times only the cape was worn. Government supplied overcoats were generally in short supply after the first year.
25 October, 1861, at Greenbrier Bridge, VA, some Militia 'wore a kind of overcoat with a large cape attached. The boys of the 16th Tennessee at this place received coats of the kind, which they called 'militias,' a name by which this kind of garment was familiarly known during the remainder of the war.'
During 1863 some Confederate were seen 'wearing overcoats of English frieze, whose materials had run the blockade, --- homespun Negro cloth, dyed with the juice of the butternut or other vegetable tincture' Others English material greatcoats were of a 'much darker hue' than the 'Kersey-blue' Federal Army issue: Confederate made ones were mostly of jeans cloth or dark grey 'kersey': in the winter of 1863 the Federal army issued dark blue due to material a shortages, some would have found its way into Confederate service.
Any greatcoat was more likely to be that of an acquired Federal one, especially in the later years of the war when 'nearly every overcoat in the army---was one of Uncle Sam's', but often dyed to change the colour.
On 15 June 1861 Company H were issued with grey caps. This was the French kepi or chasseur style forage cap, more stylish than the standard forage cap. Produced in gray and butternut, but could be found in other colours, the lining would be black or brown polished cotton, not white. Most had either civilian brass buttons or State or U.S. issue buttons rather than Confederate buttons. They were stiffened with buckram and the crown was stiffened with patre board. Leather cap visors were coated with a heavy, waterproofing that included dye, varnish and other chemicals.
Western troops preferred to wear the civilian felt slouch hat, either the civilian slouch or a few with Confederate 'issue' slough hats. They were preferred in either grey or black but could be tan or dark brown. The hat could have either high or low crown, possibly with a rolled brim which was between 2.75'' and 4'' wide with a narrow silk ribbon band around the brim and a ribbon around the base of the crown. The 'issue' hats being double stitched around the brim, with hand-stitched leather sweatband. They also wore 'palmetto, pine straw, and quilted cloth hats'.
Photos 3 and 6 must be discounted as they are post war.
Photos 8 and 10 show them wearing kepis, with photo 8 having a dark coloured one.
Photos 7, 9 and 15 show the wearers with slouch hats.
Each man in the unit should have received four pairs of socks a year this wasn't the case as the Confederate Army was unable to supply those needed, with the shortfall made up with supplies knitted at home. Many times their 'feet, (were) rapped in rags.' Articles were written in newspapers begging for socks stating the colour, the Quartermaster General of Georgia wrote 'Daughters of Georgia, I still need socks. Requisitions are daily pouring into me. I still have yarn to furnish you. I earnestly desire to secure a pair of socks for every barefooted soldier from Georgia. You are my only reliance....' Trousers were often tucked into the socks, and would be grey or brown.
These were made of cotton, canvas, and ticking. The adjustment was made by two or three small buckles. The buttonhole ends were of leather, or the ends could simply be turned back with holes.
A fashion with many troops, as well as civilians, during 1861 was the wearing of blue 'Secession' cockades on hats, they were also worn on the left breast of the coat.
, June 1862: 'All of our brigade went out to be reviewed by Mager General Poke and by
Brigadier Donelson....We was inspected guns,
canteens, knapsacks, clothing and all some of us had was what we had