Union Army

SoSkAn undertakes to portray our chosen period of history as authentically as is reasonably possible. Whatever American Civil War impression you choose to portray, your clothing and equipment must be appropriate and correct to the unit you represent.

This document aims to set out what SOSKAN considers to be the minimum level of authenticity expected of its members.

The period chosen by the Society to re-enact is 1863. Any impression should therefore be representative of the issue of equipment and clothing available at that time. 

Authentic Impression:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

When in the Authentic Camp, Members and Guests of the Society, should not be in modern civilian clothing at any time during the event except when unloading at the beginning or loading at the end of the event.

One major point on uniforms, we are not a "make do" organisation. Please ask about items of equipment and clothing from your own experienced Company members before buying to ensure you purchase what is correct for your units' impression. The obtaining of correct kit was once a difficult task, now, however, things are easier with suppliers in both the U.K and America within easy reach. As with all hobbies kit costs money and whilst you may be able to purchase the whole shebang at once, we fully appreciate that most of our members are on a tight budget.

To achieve a realistic impression of either a soldier or civilian during the period of 1863 is not an easy or simple task. As you can appreciate, not only must the correct clothing, equipment and armament be obtained, but also a 19th century attitude and manners be developed, especially for the 100% living history events. Whilst everyone is only too willing to help and advise you, some of these aspects will rely on your own research and interpretation. As they say "The more you put in the more you get out."  What follows are the MINIMUM standards required, Please make sure that when buying your equipment that: * In addition to the Minimum Standards, you are fulfilling the unit's own regulations and criteria. * That you seek advice from an experienced and knowledgeable member.

Below are the MINIMUM uniform standards required for Union Army enlisted/volunteer men, each individual unit that you join or belong to may have slight variations so please check first, however all the below are available.


Fatigue Jacket : This is the four- button 'sack coat' which was the mainstay of all service branches during the War. Generally speaking, it should be of lightweight dark blue wool, preferably lined, with an inside left hand breast pocket, and ideally made to the Schuylkill Arsenal pattern, which is perhaps the more common jacket.

Shell Jacket :The old style shell jacket or 'roundabout' retained some popularity with volunteer troops and especially western troops throughout the war. In its most common style, it would be nine-button front jacket with one inside breast pocket and an option of two button cuffs. In some cases it was as simple as a cut down frock coat.

Frock Coat :The regulation issue for all infantry. Frock coats should be of 12oz. Dark blue wool, half lined in polished cotton, with light blue regulation piping. Nine brass eagle buttons down the front, two at the waist in back, and two on each cuff.

Trousers : Army Trousers, Foot Pattern: After mid 1862, the sky blue trouser became much more prevalent. These trousers have suspender buttons of stamped metal affixed. They have a back adjustment by cloth tape or strap and buckle and the one-inch split on the outer cuff. These trousers may be obtained in any of three pocket styles: 

1. The side seam pocket (preferred) 2. The mule - ear pocket 3. The regulation single/side top entry pocket

They all have the wide and high waistband.

Shirt :  The1851 issue shirt was a four-button pullover shirt with yoke in the back. One-button cuffs and gussets in the armpits.During the war, a white calico shirt of the same pattern was very much in evidence, and civilian production provided coloured and print shirts of similar cut. It is worth noting that during the 19th century, it was considered 'un-gentlemanly' to be seen without a jacket whilst in the presence of ladies

Headgear  :    During the War, literally all enlisted men were issued a regulation cap of dark blue, a crescent shaped visor of leather, a leather chinstrap with a brass slide, and two general service brass buttons. These were commonly known as the forage or Bummer cap. Some units require Hardee or civilian hats; generally these are of a dark colour

Boots : Brogans or Jefferson (Booties) are the accepted issue military shoe although any period correct boot may be considered as acceptable. If you are unable to afford Brogans  ( around £45 - £50) "Desert Boots" dyed black, with the eyelets removed, and leather or rawhide laces will be acceptable for a maximum of one year, especially in the case of the growing young men or boys.

Socks :  Grey or off-white wool or knotted cotton socks are worn. Other colours are accepted


Cartridge Box : The Cartridge Box holds your black powder charges. They are a safety item and must be worn with the tins. They were issued with black leather shoulder belt and eagle, but can be worn on the belt.

Cap Box : The Cap Box holds the caps used for the musket. It must be black leather only. The Union type is most available and recommended.

Waist Belt : The Waist Belt goes around the waist and holds the rest of your leather gear in place on the uniform. It must be black only. A brass US keeper or a leather loop is optional. A US enlisted man's brass oval plate is recommended.

Haversack : The Haversack was traditionally meant only for food. Other items were meant to go in your backpack, blanket roll or pockets. The US tarred type in black is the best because of being waterproof. If you wish to letter it with your name, regiment and company, it should be done by hand only, in white paint.

Canteen  : The Canteen carries your drinking water - only. Recommend any US type, with blue, brown or grey jean wool covers