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1846 - 1853

Enlisted Man's Brass Shoulder Scales


Noncommissioned Officer's Shoulder Scales

enlisted men's frock coat
The coat of the antebellum militia Washington Artillery was, for the enlisted men, a single-breasted dark blue wool frock coat. Details for the frock coat include:

- A plain, dark blue wool single-breasted frock coat with a short skirt for all members up through the rank of Captain; double-breasted for ranks above Captain. By a "short skirt", what is meant is that the skirt of the frock coat extends approximately one-half the distance from the top of the hip to the bend of the knee. That length, although not established in inches, gives us some idea first that the frock coat was tailored to the individual; and second, that the main body of the frock coat terminated at the top of the hip, while the skirt extended from the top of the hip to a point between the top of the hip and the bend of the knee, whatever that measured in inches for each man. In that way, the basic proportions of the frock coat were maintained.

- Red wool split cuffs that close with two (2) solid-cast brass Louisiana militia pelican buttons

- A tall, stand up collar. The two and one-quarter inch ( 2 1/4") tall stand up collar, like the cuffs, was red wool, which was the service branch color, as Artillerymen know. A hook and eye sewn into the base of the throat opening for the stand up collar's closure prevents the collar from tending to separate or roll over; the hook and eye maintains the collar's ability to stand up in front, as it did on the originals.

[The collar height of approximately two and one-quarter inches (2 1/4") may seem rather tall, and will almost certainly appear tall if examined close to other frock coats worn by reenactors. However, the collar height was indeed fairly tall for the antebellum and early war Federal Amy, as well as antebellum militia units, many of which mimicked the Federal Army uniforms in large degree. As the Civil War grew older, the collar height was reduced on frock coats.]

- The frock coat's front is secured with nine (9) tunic-size solid-cast brass Louisiana militia pelican buttons.

- Epaulets were worn by both enlisted men and officers, noncommissioned and commissioned. The enlisted man's frock coat was worn without epaulets except on formal occasions when brass shoulder scales, or epaulets, were worn, however, while officers commonly wore their epaulets.

The officers' uniforms, up to and including the rank of Captain, were also single-breasted. Except for the officers' rank, which was displayed upon and incorporated into the epaulets (worn on informal and formal occasions by the officers only), the frock coat was identical with that of the enlisted men.

The frock coat for the rank of Major and above was a double-breasted frock coat. Its features were otherwise identical with that of the single-breasted frock coat, except that it required fourteen (14) tunic-size solid cast brass Louisiana militia pelican buttons to secure the front of the frock coat.

While the Richmond Depot I uniforms of the Civil War-era Washington Artillery had breast pockets, that was not a common distinctive of the frock coat. Rather, the frock coat typically had two pockets made of brown pollished cotton sewn into the tails of the frock coat. The frock coat was lined in each breast, in most cases with quilted black alpaca.

Frock coats had a reinforcing stripe of wool hand sewn over the seam where the body of the coat meets the tails, running from one end of the tail pocket to the end of the other tail pocket. Hooks and eyes were sewn onto the inside of the skirt's tails, the eye portion of the closures being sewn onto the back of the skirt tails and the hook portion of the closures sewn onto the front of the skirt tails, to keep the tails closed when necessary. There were two ornamental tunic-size solid-cast brass Louisiana militia pelican back buttons sewn onto the frock coat at the two separations, or slits, of the tails of the frock coat. The slits, and the two ornamental buttons, stayed the same distance apart - about five and one-half inches (5 1/2"), no matter what size the coat was.

Note some of the differences between the Washington Artillery's antebellum frock coat and that of the US Army frock coat, according to the Revised Regulations For The Army Of The United States, 1861, in which Article 1454 describes the Federal frock coat thusly:

1454. The uniform coat for all enlisted foot men, shall be a single-breasted frock of dark blue cloth, made without plaits, with a skirt extending one-half the distance from the top of the hip to the bend of the knee; one row of nine buttons on the breast, placed at equal distances; stand-up collar, to rise no higher than to permit the chin to turn freely over it, to hook in front at the bottom and then to slope up and backward at an angle of thirty degrees on each side; cuffs pointed according to pattern, and to button with two small buttons at the under seam; collar and cuffs edged with a cord or welt of cloth as follows, to wit: Scarlet for Artillery; sky-blue for Infantry; yellow for Engineers; crimson for Ordnance and Hospital stewards. On each shoulder a metallic scale according to pattern; narrow lining for skirt of the coat of the same color and material as the coat; pockets in the folds of the skirts with one button at each hip to range with the lowest buttons on the breast; no buttons at the ends of the pockets....

1459. On all occasions of duty, except fatigue, and when out of quarters, the coat or jacket shall be buttoned and hooked at the collar.



The greatcoat is an optional item, although you may not regard it as such when the weather turns cold.  

The greatcoat was a regular issue item for every soldier. 

A greatcoat differs significantly from the frock coat and uniform jacket.  The wool weight of a greatcoat was much heavier than that used in frock coats and jackets.  Like the frock coat, the greatcoat had a long skirt; but its skirt extended further down than did that of the frock coat, ending somewhere around the knees rather than on the thigh.  Not all jackets and frock coats were lined, but the greatcoat was designed to be lined with wool flannel or cotton.  The frock would seem to match the greatcoat most closely, and yet for inclement weather the greatcoat had yet another advantage over the frock coat, for it had a cape, lined or not, which gave the wearer the option of buttoning it up so that the wearer had even greater protection from cold and wind.  The collar, depending on the style of the greatcoat, was either a standup or a roll collar. 

Appropriate for cool to extremely cold weather, the greatcoat was far too heavy for campaign wear.  Soldiers were expected to retain their greatcoats, unless ordered to re turn their coats to the Quartermaster when warmer weather came so that their greatcoats could be reissued them in the fall when the armies went into winter quarters.  When cooler weather swooped in before the fall issue of the coats, soldiers who had returned their greatcoats to the Quartermaster had to do the best they could to stay warm.  

Sky blue wool was used extensively for greatcoats, primarily because it was less expensive than other colors that the military would consider using.  Whether buying a greatcoat or a pattern for a greatcoat, we recommend that you use the Mounted (or Cavalry) pattern greatcoat in order to have the correct look for our impression.