Uniforms of the Civil War
by Wayne

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After the fall of Fort Sumter, the United States War Department was unable to make enough uniforms fast enough. The northern states were told to dress their own companies. Some states could not get enough dark blue cloth. Some of the blue cloth faded to gray when the dye washed out. Many soldiers were given gray over shirts until the blue coats could be made.

New York was able to give all soldiers a dark blue woolen jacket with 8 state seal buttons. But when the war lasted longer than people expected, the factories ran out of dark blue cloth. They gave out 7,300 gray jackets to the soldiers, but soon found that there was a problem on the battlefields. Soldiers were being fired at by other Union soldiers. By 1862, Maine, Vermont, and Wisconsin were told to stop giving out gray uniforms. They could still design their own style jackets but they had to use dark blue cloth. That is why there were uniforms in many different styles.

It was in 1862 that the Union Army made strict rules about uniforms. Uniform coats and jackets were made of dark blue material. Pants were also dark blue. Later that year the government examined all uniforms that came from the factories. They stamped them to make them official before they were given to the troops.

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Bet you think I'm wrong on the color!
Read all about it!

When the Civil War started in 1861, the Confederate Army did not have one style of uniform for all soldiers. A few states had dress regulations but most governors let each company pick their own style. At the start of the war many volunteers left home wearing their own clothes. The army could not make enough uniforms. Some soldiers wore dark blue clothes. That is the color the Union soldiers wore so there was a lot of confusion. Their own men during the Battle of Shiloh fired at some soldiers.

At first uniforms were made of undyed wool. When dye was used the colors faded quickly because the vegetable dye was weak. Many uniforms turned a light brown color.

Some states followed state regulations. They were Mississippi, North Carolina, and Georgia. The Louisiana Brigade of 3,000 soldiers took pride in their look. They wore coats and jackets made in England.

In Alabama, the governor had a factory make the first gray uniforms. Their soldiers wore short gray tunics with green trim. Pants were light blue for enlisted men and dark blue for high-ranking officers. By the end of the war most southern states had their soldiers wearing these gray uniforms.