Uniforms Explained

veteran’s corner

Tom Krabbenhoft

Recently in the area there has been talk of DGF schools removing their mascot. The mascot appears to be a cartoon figure in a gray hat with a large white feather.  Supposedly it represents a civil war soldier. It’s a very, very diluted version at best. Let’s look.

Plumage- with the advancements of firearm technology before and during the Civil War a large white feather indicated where to shoot at one’s head? This is counter to every soldier’s basic need to survive.

The hat itself would serve no practical purpose either. A hat with a brim this wide would obscure those behind you from a clear shot. Civil War combat was often lines of Infantry advancing slowly, stopping to load, shoot and repeat. It also would have made running or horseback riding difficult.  How about concealing ones position? It would be like trying to hide with a large pillow on one’s head. The hat most commonly wore was the forage cap or Kepi. It was of cylindrical shape with a single bill. The hat was a tool. One could gather nuts, berries, firewood etc. while holding the brim of the hat. The hat the mascot wears most historically represents is that of Cavaliers hat and Musketeers hat. Cavaliers are attributed derived from noble background and were supporters of King Charles. Musketeers were established in 1622, by King Louis XIII of France. Originally 50 of his best personal guards were equipped with a fairly new weapon, the musket. These two types of soldiers did wear large plumage in a slow moving rather stagnant military action. Plumage could give a commander a view and an idea if they were winning or losing. It could also determine where to send more soldiers. The hat more resembles what the fictional character “Puss n Boots” wears.

Confederate uniforms assigned the color gray can sometimes be misleading as well. The Confederate Army was poor and hastily organized. Most soldiers wore the clothes they brought from home. It wasn’t until late 1862 with the establishment of the Confederate depot were gray uniforms issued. In fact many of the Union soldiers derived from state militias wore gray shirts. Once Texas ceded from the union, many of the federal military bases were abandoned. In 1861 one of the captured bases in San Antonio contained blue uniforms. These uniforms were being staged for the Western expansion of the US. All 90,000 of the Texas Confederate soldiers had blue uniforms. Hundreds of thousands more blue uniforms were shipped east. It wasn’t until union gunboats blockaded the Mississippi river this stopped. There were other units that wore red, green and combinations of all.

Once the Confederate states started issuing gray uniforms the cotton fabric would rapidly change color due to sweat, heat, dirt etc. It would change to a butternut color. The “Butternuts” was a very common name later in the war for Confederate troops.

Even Robert E. Lee creates uniform confusion. He most often wore a Colonels uniform, and many different colors.

Military history is very deep indeed.

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