1846 - 1853
Bib Front Shirt
(commonly referred to as
State-Issue Or Federal-Issue Shirt
Pleated Front Shirt
(shown with cravat)
Shirt With Stand & Fall Collar
The style of shirt you will want is a military-style shirt with a placket-front, typically closed with three buttons. The military-style shirt will allow you greater flexibility in adopting a number of different impressions. However, that is a matter of choice. We have no requirement other than that you wear a shirt that is period in appearance. Your shirt will be unseen most of the time in all likelihood, since you are required to wear the tunic when outside of camp, and we strongly recommended that, like the gentlemen of that age were wont to do, you wear a vest whenever you are without your jacket.
There is documentary evidence that men of the Washington Artillery also wore solid red shirts of the type often referred to as a fireman's bib shirt - a placket front shirt with a shield covering the chest and extending down to the abdomen - during the Civil War. Although as of yet unverified, there seems to be evidence that the shields on those shirts may also have been secured in place with brass buttons, and perhaps even may have had cloth epaulets. We caution that this has not been adequately researched. We are presently awaiting the opportunity to again view two watercolor self-portraits made by two different men of the Washington Artillery during the war to better ascertain if these shirts were, indeed, as described herein. Furthermore, we are a long distance away from determining from documentary evidence if these may have comprised "summer weight" uniform tops.
(The exception to that rule is when the weather is fiercely hot, in which case good sense must prevail over style, fashion, and custom. Having a heat stroke or collapsing from heat prostration tends to take all the fun out of an event.)