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trousers

1838 - 1845

trousers

Trousers will fit differently from the modern jeans or pants to which you are accustomed. Pants were generally of a looser fit in the mid-19th century. Pants and waist belts were worn at the real waist (cutting across the navel), not with the waistband slung down around the hips. Trousers were made with a higher back, also, to prevent an unsightly gap beneath the shell jacket, a gap which would otherwise appear every time a soldier sat down. The higher back made it easier for a man to work without ripping off braces (suspender) buttons, if braces were worn.

Trousers are also of Richmond Grey wool. Details of the trousers include:

- Infantry style trousers for enlisted men; Cavalry style trousers for drivers, buglers, noncommissioned officers, and commissioned officers. Cavalry style trousers are distinguished from Infantry style trousers primarily by an additional reinforcement in the seat of the trousers. (Drivers, buglers, noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers wear Cavalry style trousers because their historical counterparts rode horses.)

- Red piping down the outer sides along the seam, whether enlisted men or any level of officer.

- Pockets may be of one of three types. Mule Ear pockets, the flap of which must be secured by buttoning it to the trousers by cast pewter or stamped tin buttons (the same buttons used for underdrawers and fastening the fly of the trousers, approximately 3/4" in diameter) are the second most common style of trouser pockets. Slit top pockets, requiring no flap or button, are also acceptable, and are most commonly found in Cavalry style trousers and tailored trousers. Side seam pockets, seen most commonly on enlisted men's trousers for both Confederate and Federal service, are the most common of the war, but not commonly seen in tailored trousers. Bear in mind that the uniforms of the Washington Artillery were not the results of mass production and goovernment issue, but were indeed tailored uniforms. A watch pocket may be included as an option for those who elect to carry a pocket watch.

- Pocket closure buttons for mule ear pockets are to be cast pewter or stamped tin, of the type used to secure the trouser fly or underdrawers. The buttons should be approximately 3/4" diameter. Note that we recommend the use of cast pewter buttons in preference to stamped tin. Although either button requires that you work it over with a small file and / or sandpaper in order to take off rough edges (especially in the holes in the buttons themselves where the thread will pass through) that might saw through the thread holding it on, stamped tin buttons tend to require more preparation work to protect the trousers from them, and are also prone to rust anywhere you have filed off rough edges.

- The back vent of the trousers may be secured either with a ribbon-tie closure or with a buckle closure that is adjustable. We recommend the buckle closure, as that covers the back vent more effectively, and is more durable than the ribbon-tie closure. Also, if the waistband of your trousers is somewhat tight, either from overtightening the ribbon-tie or neglecting to push back from the meal table soon enough, the ribbon-tie closure may be prone to cut or tear through the area of the fabric through which the ribbon-tie is threaded. We strongly recommend against the use of leather thongs to tie closed the trouser vent, as it is not something that was commonly used during the war.

- For men wearing Artillery or Cavalry boots, you may want to secure the bottom of your trouser legs under the soles of your feet by adding thin cloth straps to hold them in place as you draw on your boots (sometimes referred to as a "Cavalry Modification"). The tailor may or may not make that option available to you, depending on the sutler. You also may or may not find that comfortable to walk on.

- Trousers may be lined or not. We recommend that the trousers not be lined, but instead that your underdrawers be a separate garment which is removeable. (When you sweat into the undergarment, you can always remove it and wear a dry one in its place if you have two or more sets of underdrawers with you, but a sewn-in lining is damp until it dries, and the garment is consequently smelly until it is dry-cleaned.)

(Underdrawers may be secured to the inner waistband of the trousers by means of cast pewter or stamped tin buttons to hold them in place, or you may rely upon a snug fit to keep them up. A word of caution for the men who have something of a paunch, however: if you trust the snugness of the fit to hold them up, you may find that you have to dig the seat of your underdrawers out of the inside of your boot tops if they slide down. This is not a unique situation, given the task that the underdrawers are being required to perform in their defiance of gravity. Did you ever try to put a pair of pants on a funnel?)

When having the uniform dry-cleaned, it is always advisable to specify “no creases” to the dry cleaner. While creases look crisp to our modern eyes, they are not accurate for the period.

When serving the piece, you may get moist or wet black powder on your uniform. It is important that you wash it off as quickly as possible or else the black powder will discolor your uniform. It will also etch a dark stain on your brass buttons, so we recommend that your brassware be thoroughly rinsed after coming into contact with blackpowder.

 


Braces



Braces

 

 

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