Friday, March 05, 2010

The buttons they wore.

I’ll tell you how I got on this topic before we go any further. I ordered and received a new dress jacket the other day for interpretation and re-enacting purposes. It is a Confederate colonel’s jacket that I will use to display, and for warranted occasions, like dress parades and balls. I was trying to decide what buttons to put on the jacket. That is how we arrived at this post.

So which buttons were used on the jackets that North Carolina’s soldiers wore? I did some research, and went through the online catalog of the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, and through the book ­A Catalog of Uniforms from the Museum of the Confederacy. Most of the jackets I found were officers’ jackets, probably their dress jackets. It seems that most officers had one dress uniform, and then another suit of clothes that they wore every day. After the battle of New Bern in March 1862, Lt. William G. Morris of the 37th NCT wrote home, stating that he had lost everything when the Confederates were forced to retreat. "I have Nothing Except that is on my back. that is My Brown soote. I Did Not have on My uniform" he wrote.

Surprisingly, the majority of officers had United States Staff Eagle and Shield buttons on their coats. These coats came from a variety of sources. Until the end of the war, officers were expected, or required, to purchase their own uniforms. Some were made at home, others were made by tailors. There is no real way to determine where each jacket was manufactured.

So where did the Confederates get all of these yankee buttons? Something in the back of my mind says I know this story, but I cannot seem to place my hand on it. So, I’ll put the question to you: where did the Confederates get these buttons?

By the way, it was just not Tar Heels who had these buttons. The majority of surviving Confederate officer uniforms at the Museum of the Confederacy also have Federal staff buttons, including the jackets of JEB Stuart, Sandie Pendleton, John Hunt Morgan, and Patrick Cleburne

North Carolina Museum of History
William Branch – staff – US Staff
Thomas P. Devereaux – 43rd NCT – VMI buttons.
Alfred May -- 61st NCT – CSA
Charles W. Broadfoot -- Fayetteville Light Infantry – US Infantry
Lawrence Branch – Gen. – US buttons
Robert F. Hoke – Gen. – Confederate staff
James B. Gordon – Gen. – Standard Federal Button
J. Bryan Grimes – Gen. -- NC Sunburst
Rufus Tucker – 41st NCT – NC State seals
John T. Jones – Lt. Col. 26th NCT – US Staff
Henry C. Albright – 26th NCT – US Staff
Junius Daniel – 45th NCT - SC Palmetto Guards (when a major)
William H. Powell – 17th NCT – US Staff
Henry M. Shaw – 8th NCT – US Staff
Thomas Sparrow – 19th NCST – US Staff
James J. Pettigrew – Gen. – US Staff
Edmond Haywood - ? – NC Sunburst

Museum of the Confederacy
NC Drummer – Federal shield with a “R”
William D. Pender – Gen. - US Staff
Eugene Morehead – 3rd NCA- US Staff
John Hughes – 7th NCST – CSA on shield
Robert D. Johnston – Gen. -- US Staff
John A. Gilmer – 27th NCT/ Prisoner commander – Virginia state seal.
Peter G. Evans – 6th NCC – US Staff
David S. Davis – 66th NCT – US Staff

Greensboro
David Gouge – 58th NCT – Script I’s

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