1861 - 1865
Bib Front Shirt
(commonly referred to as a
State-Issue Or Federal-Issue Shirt
Pleated Front Shirt
(shown with cravat)
Shirt With Stand & Fall Collar
There is substantial photographic and written evidence to indicate that a popular fashion or fad among the men of 5th Company was to wear gingham shirts; that is, with small and medium checks of red-and-white (apparently a 1/2" to 3/4" square; squares smaller than that do not match the photographic evidence, and tend to give the shirt more of a pink tone than red). Whether you choose to wear that print or not, the style of shirt should be a military-style shirt with a placket-front, typically closed with three buttons. 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, 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. 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. However, 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.)