Authenticity Guide 

The Citizens Guard

Introduction.  This is a companion document to our Uniform & Equipage List. The Authenticity Guide is based on continuing research efforts by our membership, input from respected Civil War historians and museum curators, and by actually viewing original articles and various collections we have seen over the years.  This is a living document. We will continue to update this material as we learn more about our unit and the Federal Civil War soldiers from Wisconsin that fought and died to preserve the Union.

Our Impressions and General Information about Authenticity. Our primary portrayal is a late 1862 campaign impression of the Citizens Guard, Company A, Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. We also portray campaign impressions of the Citizens Guard during 1863 and from January 1 through June 28, 1864. Occasionally, we depict re-enlisted veterans and draftees of Company A serving as the Independent Battalion, Wisconsin Volunteers (June 11 through November 30, 1864) and Companies G and H of the Sixth Wisconsin Veteran Volunteer Infantry (November 30, 1864 through July 16, 1865).  Although not covered in detail through this document, we also have valid impressions incorporation eastern federal, western federal, civilian, militia, and even confederate at times as well. 

We believe our uniforms and equipage should reflect the rigors of military campaigning. Our uniforms and equipage should also reflect the efforts that typical soldiers-in-the-field made to keep items and uniforms in “good working order.”  Muskets are to be kept field-clean and in good, safe and working order at all times.  After research and extensive experience carrying gear on marches, we believe our kits should contain only those items absolutely imperative for a soldier on an active campaign. 

Our members stress the proper wear and use of accoutermentsHats are generally unadorned for western theater impressions or with minimal dress hat ornamentation for war time Citizens Guard impressions. When there are exceptions, due to the time period we are enacting, company leadership will notify all members.  All canteens and haversacks ride near the small of the back and not the bottom of seat.  Haversacks should only hold mess gear (i.e., tin cup, utensils and plate) and period-appropriate rations. They should not be the repository for personal items or so called "haversack stuffers."  

The waist belt should be worn at the navel, not below it, positioned at what is called the natural waist. The cartridge box belt should be shortened so the top of the cartridge box is no lower than the bottom of the waist belt. It is acceptable to place the waist belt through the loops of the cartridge box and shorten the cartridge box belt accordingly. 

During reenacting, as during the war itself, it is attention to details that makes a soldier and unit truly distinctive. We attempt to have all uniform and equipage correct in pattern, materials, and construction to the original documented articles at all times. We keep our hair length short, with no flowing locks below a shirt collar. If a member needs vision correction, period spectacles or contact lenses are worn. Modern eyeglasses, wristwatches and other items of "this century" are not acceptable. We make allowances for medications and other reasonable circumstances, but ask that you discuss any of these personal requirements with your leadership in advance. 

In Conclusion. Citizens Guard members believe a top-notch kit is useless unless it is paired with a positive attitude towards an accurate portrayal and appropriate military bearing. This takes a great deal of effort… personally and as a company. We continue to refine our impression through research and, most importantly, by helping one another along the way. Because our standards are high, and because we realize our soldiers have varying means, we give ample time for and personal assistance to members working to meet our exacting standards. At all times, however, we expect that everyone will work on their impression. It should always be a work in progress. This personal and unit commitment not only makes us one of the finest units on the field, but a unit with the highest level of camaraderie.   

Uniform & Equipage Standards for the Enlisted Foot Soldier

Note:  For visual reference only, we have listed the page numbers in Time-Life Books, Echoes of Glory: Volume 2 - Arms & Equipment of the Union, that correspond with most items covered in this guide and our Uniform & Equipage List. The Echoes of Glory book set can be purchased on-line and at most popular bookstores. It is also available in many libraries. At the end of each description, we list the picture reference (i.e., EOG/US/page #). 

Fatigue Blouse (Sack Coat)

A bit of history.  The fatigue blouse is seen among Second Wisconsin members as early as the fall of 1861 (State Issue or Commercial Blouses). Photographic evidence of Company C, Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment, depicts the Grant County Grays clothed entirely in federal issue fatigue blouses during the late spring/early summer of 1862 (SHSW negative no. WHi (X3) 11298). Also a letter of correspondence from a member in Company E of the Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry indicated that by June 19, 1862, the regiment had received their initial U.S. Quartermaster Issue of the fatigue blouse. The men of the Second Wisconsin continued to primarily wear the fatigue blouse (except for dress occasions under the command of Gibbon & Meredith and during cold weather months) until their three-year term of service expired on June 28, 1864. Veterans who decided to re-enlist and new draftees continued to wear the fatigue blouse until the end of the war as members of the Independent Battalion, Wisconsin Volunteers (June 11-November 30, 1864) and Companies G and H of the Sixth Wisconsin Veteran Volunteer Infantry (November 30, 1864-July 16, 1865).   

Our standards.  The Citizens Guard requires all members to first purchase a fatigue blouse (before they purchase a uniform (or dress) coat). The fatigue blouse's basic features include an indigo dyed (a rich dark blue with a greenish tinge) wool flannel, with a diagonal weave, a kidney shaped or square corner interior pocket, four 3/4 inch general service eagle buttons, small cuff vents, and a falling collar. 

Our fatigue blouses are either lined or unlined, but lined fatigue blouses (which were in the majority) are preferred. Wool flannel lining can be tan, gray, brown, or blue with corresponding cotton muslin sleeve lining and hand-sewn sleeves between body of the coat and sleeve lining. Lining is slightly shorter that the outside wool (approximately two to three inches of wool flannel showing on the inside of the coat, as a border, based on original specimens).  

Unlined coats should have hand flat felled seams.   

All buttonholes shall be hand sewn using blue, black, or logwood faded (brown) linen or cotton thread.  We have authentic instructions and can also provide assistance for the "sewing challenged" among you! 

Approved styles include Schuylkill Arsenal Pattern (entirely hand sewn), J.T. Martin contract pattern, New York Depot pattern & other documented arsenal and contract patterns.   

When possible, we use the four standard sizes of the Federal Army during the war.  These were: Size 1 = 36 inch chest, Size 2 = 38 inch chest, Size 3 = 40 inch chest, and Size 4 = 42 inch chest.  For more information on fatigue blouses, please consult Patrick Brown’s monograph For Fatigue Purposes…The Army Sack Coat of 1857-1872. (EOG/US/125) 

Uniform Coat (Dress Coat)

A bit of history.  The Second Wisconsin had their initial uniform coat issue in October 1861. They primarily used the uniform coat through the spring of 1862, at which time many in the regiment chose to wear the more comfortable fatigue blouse. The regiment continued this practice (except for dress occasions under the command of Gibbon & Meredith and during colder months) until the expiration of their three-year term of service on June 28, 1864.  

While the soldiers generally preferred the fatigue blouse, all soldiers in the Iron Brigade were required to have in their possession a uniform coat by the order of Brigadier General Solomon Meredith on April 8, 1863.   Paraphrasing our pard Michael Thorson, most soldiers complied with this order by carrying their uniform coats in their knapsacks if they wore the fatigue blouse ("Portraying the 2nd Wisconsin").   

Our standards.  The coat’s basic features include an indigo dyed woolen cloth (broadcloth or uniform cloth as documented in original specimens), a standing collar, skirt with two rear pockets, 1/4 inch padded black or brown polished cotton chest lining, cotton muslin sleeve lining, hand sewn sleeves between body of the coat and sleeve lining, saxony blue/sky blue (not baby blue) welting on collar, cuffs, and a vertical welt along the cuff split.    

Eyes and hooks should be attached at the collar and corners of the skirt. There is no internal chest pocket in this coat, and there is no lining in the back of the coat body or the skirt.   

Buttonholes shall be all hand sewn using blue, black, or logwood faded (brown) linen or cotton thread. Uniform coats must have nine 3/4 inch general service eagle buttons on body front, two 3/4 inch general service eagle buttons in back (above the skirt tails), and two 5/8 inch general service eagle buttons on each functional cuff.   

All documented arsenal and contract patterns of correct construction are acceptable.     

If possible, we try to use the four standard sizes of the Federal Army during the war. These were: Size 1 = 36 inch chest, Size 2 = 38 inch chest, Size 3 = 40 inch chest, and Size 4 = 42 inch chest.  (EOG/US/121-123)  

Trowsers (Foot Pattern)

A bit of history. The Second Wisconsin's initial Federal trowser issue occurred during the first week of October 1861. These trowsers were of dark blue wool, complying with U.S. Army Regulations up to that time.   

By December of 1861, General Order No. 108 changed the color of the enlisted trowsers to sky blue. According to historian Howard Michael Madaus, the Second Wisconsin was issued dark blue trowsers up to its last requisition of August 13, 1862 ("Appendix III" 322). Starting in the fall of 1862, these dark blue kersey trowsers were gradually replaced by the standard sky blue kersey issue.    

By the spring of 1863, well before the battle of Gettysburg, the regiment was nearly all supplied with sky blue trowsers.   

Our standards. The Citizens Guard requires all members to first purchase their sky blue kersey issue trowsers. After other initial items, you can than purchase dark blue kersey trowsers.    

Some basic features include a greenish cast sky blue or dark blue kersey wool with a diagonal weave, correct rise of trowsers in the seat (back yoke), right side watch pocket, narrow tapered waistband, four or six stamped paper backed tin suspender buttons, five small paper back tin fly buttons, side seam pockets, correct overlapping cuff vents with internal cuff facings, and correct fly panels and facings.   

Buttonholes and tieback grommet holes should be hand sewn with dark blue or logwood-dyed cotton or linen thread.

Approved styles include Schuylkill Arsenal pattern (entirely hand sewn), J.T. Martin contract pattern, William Deering contract pattern & other documented arsenal and contract patterns. 

If possible, we once again recommend sticking to the four standard sizes of the Federal Army during the war. These were: Size 1 = 32 inch waist x 31 inch inseam, Size 2 = 34 inch waist x 32 inch inseam, Size 3 = 36 inch waist x 33 inch inseam, and Size 4 = 38 inch waist x 34 inch inseam.  (EOG/US/121, 123, 127) 

U.S. Pattern 1858 Dress Hat (Hardee Hat)

A bit of history. The famed black hat was first issued to the Second Wisconsin during the first week of October 1861. They were re-supplied with the U.S. pattern of 1858 dress hat throughout the war. This hat was worn with pride and made the Iron Brigade a distinctive unit within the Army of the Potomac.   

Outdoor photographic evidence of the Second Wisconsin in July 1862 depicts the Badgers wearing their dress hats with both sides of the brim down, or pinned up on the left side with a stamped brass eagle.  Research conducted by Howard Michael Madaus allows us to read the contents of a Second Wisconsin quartermaster report from the National Archives, Entry 4381, Record Group No. 393, Pt. II. This requisition form is dated July 11, 1862, "...11 hats complete: 70 eagles, 50 bugles, 40 feathers, 40 letters 'C,' and 60 figures '2' " (qtd. in Appendix III, "The Uniform of the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg" 339).   

With the rigors of campaigning, the Second Wisconsin soldiers obviously lost the eagle plates, ostrich plumes, enlisted sky blue infantry hat cords, company letters, and regimental numerals. In April 1863, the soldiers of the Second Wisconsin were ordered to wear die cut, worsted wool corps badges on their dress hats. These were positioned generally underneath the regimental brass numeral of each soldier's dress hat. The existing dress hat of Sergeant Philander B. Wright (located at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum (WVM)), Company C, Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment confirms this corps badge positioning. It has the 1 7/8 inch, red worsted wool disk sewn into the front crown of the dress hat, with the regimental brass '2' inserted directly on top of the corps badge.   

By the battle of Gettysburg, hat ornamentation within the Second Wisconsin was gradually on the decline. Corps badges were definitely in use, with lesser degrees of regimental numerals and company letters. Some soldiers still used the stamped brass eagle to pin the hat up at their discretion.   

As one might assume, the degree of dress hat ornamentation decreased in requisition from early, to mid, to late war. 

Our standards. Made of black rabbit or wool felt, with a 2.5 inch black leather sweatband, the hat has a 3 inch brim, 5.5 inch crown height, has double row brim stitching at 4 stitches per inch, a black silk grosgrain ribbon surrounding the base of the crown, and a black oilcloth or paper crown label.    

Since we portray Company A during active campaigning, we prefer minimal dress hat ornamentation with decreased amounts worn as the war progressed.  Corps badges may only be worn during a post April 1863 impression. You may also leave your black hat undecorated as well!  (EOG/US/120) 

Forage Cap


Our standards.  With increasing opportunities to reenact other Wisconsin and Midwest units in other theatres and periods of the war, having a good forage cap is becoming a necessity.   These shall be worn without hat ornamentation unless otherwise noted.


U.S. Pattern 1858. Made of dark blue wool, with a lining of black or brown Silesia soft, sturdy lightweight cotton). Body of the cap should be stiffened by a 2 ¾ inch piece of buckram with a single row of stitches, 16 (to the inch) with black silk or linen thread. The sweatband of good black morocco (leather) two inches wide which should be sewed to the base of the cap and through the cloth buckram. The brim should be of glazed leather black above, in the form of a squared off crescent, with the chinstrap of soft black glazed leather and two 5/8 inch general service eagle buttons attached on each side of the chin strap.  Note that Type I versus Type II is not addressed specifically in this edition of the Guide and either is acceptable. (EOG/US/120)(QM Manual 1865)

U.S. Pattern Jefferson Bootees (Shoes)

Our standards. Black dyed, semi rough out leather, squared front, one inch heels, four sets of shoelace holes with one in the vamp, accompanied with leather shoelaces. Leather soles can be either pegged or sewn. Heel rims, inlet heel rims, and hobnails are all acceptable. For further information on U.S. pattern Jefferson Bootees, please consult Michael R. Cunningham's article, "Federal Issue Jefferson Bootees-Part 1," contained in Volume 7, No. 2 issue of The Watchdog.  (EOG/US/191) 

Civilian Shirt 

Our standards. Must be of period fabric and construction. The body of the shirt may be either hand or machine stitched, but entirely hand sewn civilian shirts (which were more common) are preferred. All buttons & buttonholes shall be entirely sewn by hand. Hand felled seams helped to prevent fraying, and was another very common sewing detail found in civilian shirts. Look for two to three colored woven shirt patterns such as small plaids, checks, and stripes. The woven shirt patterns should be the same on the reverse side of the shirting fabric. Civilian shirt fabrics should be of 100 percent cotton or other natural material. Look for small folding or banded collars, and three or four button plackets. Civilian shirts can have square gussets as popular in the 1850's, or the rounded sleeves, which became stylish during the 1860's.   

Correct buttons were comprised of bone, horn, shell, china, milk glass, brass/metal, hard rubber, or wood in two or four hole styles (use documented compositions for buttons). Small size buttons ranging from 3/8 of an inch to 1/2 of an inch in diameter are preferred.  According to Robert A. Braun, four hole style buttons should be sewn on "such that the thread forms an "X" between the button holes." ("Low-Cost Improvements for your Uniform and Equipage")   (EOG/US/126) 

Federal Issue Shirt

Our standards. Made of domet wool flannel, completely hand sewn, incorporating a rectangular body with square gussets, produced in one size, and delivered in bales. In Stephen Osman's article, "The Federal Issue Shirt," he describes the basic features of an existing issue shirt located at the Danish Army Museum in Copenhagen: "It is off white or cream-colored flannel (wool on a cotton warp) with a reinforced slit front opening, a squared collar closed by a single stamped sheet iron button, tapered sleeves with internally faced cuffs formed as part of the sleeve and closed by single buttons, a reinforcing strap across the top of the shoulder, and very full cut in the body." (4-5)   

Also acceptable are the gray wool flannel contract variant issue shirts. Paraphrasing our pard William Brewster in his article, "The Case for the Contract Variant Issue Shirt," the basic features of this shirt include: a three-button placket, no sleeve gussets, machine-sewn body, and the use of stamped tin buttons. (6-7)    

Since all soldiers were allotted three issue shirts per year, we know the men of the Second Wisconsin wore these warm-clothing articles. Citizens Guard members should strive to wear an issue as much as possible in their impressions.   (EOG/US/126) 


Our standards. Either Federal Issue pattern or civilian patterns are acceptable. Federal issue drawers should be made of cotton canton flannel, with cotton tape ties in the rear and the ankles. Hand sewn paperback tin buttons, buttonholes, and tieback grommet holes. These should wear high on the waist. (EOG/US/127) 

Civilian drawers should be made of fabrics such as cotton catton flannel, cotton osnaburg, or linen. Other features include hand-sewn buttonholes, buttons, and tieback grommet holes. Buttons may be bone, china, or other documented compositions. Civilian drawers should also ride rather high on the waist.   

We highly recommend all members have at least one pair of drawers. 


Our standards. Either wool or cotton, hand knitted or period machine construction, with period tops and side seams, available in varying lengths. Stick to dull colors such as gray, brown, cream, blue, dark green, tan, or dark red.   


Our standards.  Suspenders must be of documented style and construction. Since the Federal Army did not issue these, soldiers had to either purchase a pair from a merchant, have them sent from home, or simply went without them. They were typically made out of cotton or linen webbing or drill with “differing degrees” of sophistication (sometimes little). Common styles ranged from simple straps with hand-sewn buttonholes (poorboys), to sewn straps with two or three tined brass adjustments & leather ends on each side. The suspenders are not sewn together in the middle of the back but are instead separate pieces.   

Do not purchase a cheap sutler pair of suspenders! Stick to the merchants in the Uniform & Equipage List and you will do fine. While we do not encourage the wearing of belts instead of suspenders, it is acceptable.  All belts must be of documented materials, pattern, and construction as compared to original specimens. 


Our standards. For those who need vision correction, you must either purchase a set of period or reproduction eyeglasses with your prescription, wear contact lenses, or go with out any.  This is not negotiable.   

Period spectacles of the mid 19th century had features such as oval or rectangular frames, arch or crank bridges, and straight or sliding temple pieces with a small teardrop final. Frames were commonly made out of brass, silver, or gold. Lenses were made out of glass. For more information on spectacles, please consult Nicky Hughes' article, "A Closer Look," Volume 3, No. 4 issue of The Watchdog

Cartridge Box

Our standards. U.S. Pattern of 1855, 1857, and 1861 .58 caliber cartridge boxes are all acceptable. Cartridge boxes should be sewn by hand using waxed linen thread, comprised of tanned leather, dyed black, with tins, and cartridge box plate attached with a small piece of leather.  (EOG/US/199, 202) 

Cartridge Box Belt (Sling)

Our standards. The Cartridge Box Belt (sling) is made of bridle leather, dyed black, 2.25 inches wide, and 55.5 inches long clear of billets. Billets (two narrow four-hole adjustment strips) should be 4.25 inches in length at each end of the belt. The total length of the cartridge box belt is 64 inches. The cartridge box belt should be shortened so the top of the cartridge box is no lower than the bottom of the waistbelt. The round eagle cartridge box belt plate (breastplate) should be attached using a small piece of leather. 

U.S. Pattern Waistbelt

Our standards. The waistbelt is made of bridle leather, dyed black, 1.9 inches wide, 38.5 inches long with leather loop keeper which is preferred, or brass belt keeper for impressions after 1863.  All waistbelts shall have the correct lead backed U.S. buckle for the pattern of belt worn.  For the leather loop pattern waistbelt, a stud backed U.S. pattern buckle is suggested to be attached.  For the brass belt keeper pattern waistbelt, the arrow back U.S. pattern buckle is suggested to be attached. (EOG/US/198-199, 202)  

U.S. Pattern 1850 Cap Box

Our standards. The cap box is made of bridle leather, dyed black, has an outer flap with latching tab, wool strip hand sewn to the back of the inner flap, cone pick loop, riveted brass finial, and two waistbelt loops which were hand sewn to the back of the cap box along with small copper rivet supports. Once again, the cap box should be entirely hand sewn. Shield front cap boxes are also acceptable.  (EOG/US/202) 

U.S. Pattern Bayonet Scabbard

Our standards. Must be the U.S. Pattern; no British Enfield Scabbards are allowed. We prefer the early war "Gaylord" pattern two rivet sewn style, or the pattern 1863 seven-rivet bayonet scabbard which is acceptable for impressions after 1863 only. These bayonet scabbards were made of black dyed bridle leather and featured attached frogs of either bridle or buff leather. All bayonet scabbards must have a secure brass tip. This item should be hand sewn.  (EOG/US/202) 

U.S. Pattern 1851 Haversack

Our standards. Some basic features includes hand or machine sewn construction, black tarred exterior coating that seeps into the interior, cotton or linen inner bag attached by three hand sewn 5/8 inch tin or bone buttons, hand sewn inner bag button holes, iron 5/8 inch roller buckle, and a one piece shoulder strap of 40 to 45 inches in length.   

Haversacks must ride at the small of the back, with the top of the haversack no lower than the waistbelt. To make adjustments, either cut and re-sew the strap or fold over the excess portion and re-sew using 100 percent cotton or linen black thread. Haversacks should only hold those items of your mess gear (tin cup, utensils, and plate) and your rations. They should not be the repository for your personal items or so called "haversack stuffers." (EOG/US/210-211) 

U.S. Pattern 1858 Smoothside Canteen

A bit of history. The following canteen descriptions are from Robert A. Braun's article, "The Federal Canteen," that was at one time posted on the Thirty-third Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Website:

“New York Depot Pattern of 1858, with spout of white metal (not tin), occasionally mounted on the canteen with large spout ‘shoulder’ reinforcement that bulged out from the canteen. Stopper secured with a jack chain, with hole punched in a tin strap keeper to hold the chain (only the New York Depot canteens had this chain attachment feature!).

The New York Depot had no manufacturing capability, thus received and shipped lots of canteens as ‘complete’ from their contractors.

The canteens purchased by the New York Depot featured the jack chain to secure the stopper. ALL OTHER canteens of verifiable provenance have their stoppers secured with a simple cord or string. This means that, theoretically, ONLY the New York Depot canteens would have a hole punched into one of the tin strap keepers to secure the chain. Philadelphia Depot canteens (this includes all those Pattern of 1862 corrugated canteens) and Cincinnati Depot canteens wouldn’t have this hole.”

Our standards. Must be a U.S. Pattern 1858 Smoothside Canteen, with correct brownish/gray jean wool cover, pewter spout, jack chain (New York Depot only) or string stopper attachment. If string is used for Philadelphia and Cincinnati Depot canteens, then the tin strap brackets should not have a punched hole. 

Leather canteen straps are preferred for Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment impressions from late 1861 to the spring of 1863.  A mixture of the leather strap and cloth strap would be appropriate for impressions during the spring through summer of 1863 for Second Wisconsin impressions. There is documented evidence of the leather strap in the ranks of the federal army at the battle of Gettysburg from canteens in the collection of this national battlefield park. Cloth straps are preferred for impressions generally after the summer of 1863 for Second Wisconsin impressions. Western Theater depots such as Cincinnati and St. Louis Depot seem to have issued canteens exclusively with the cloth strap throughout the war. For western theater federal impressions, the cloth strap is the correct choice unless documentation proves otherwise.

The canteen must ride at the small of the back. Proper means of cotton strap adjustment include cutting the strap and re-sewing it using 100 percent cotton or linen thread, or tying a knot in the strap. We have seen several original canteens at the WVM that feature cotton canteen straps knotted once and in some cases twice. However, this style of adjustment is rather uncomfortable to wear with a knapsack. We prefer the cut and sew adjustment over the knotted adjustment, but both are acceptable.  If the leather strap needs to be shortened, adjust to a smaller strap length with the existing issue strap holes or if necessary for even a smaller strap, cut and punch a new hole in the leather to make sure it rides at the small of your back.   (EOG/US/206-207) 

U.S. Pattern 1855 Doublebag Knapsack

Our standards. Hand or machine sewn linen body tarred black with a glossy appearance (some exterior coating seeping into the interior is to be expected), black dyed shoulder straps, iron roller buckles, hand sewn buckles & keepers, reinforcements of split leather, and overcoat straps.  The double bag knapsack contained two compartments; one consisting of a tie shut pouch with leather ties while the other side was simply a four-sided fold in keeper with leather straps & roller buckles. Wartime documented contract versions are also acceptable. (EOG/US/212-213) 

U.S. Issue Rubber Blanket or Poncho

Our standards. Rubber or Gum Blankets were the primary ground cloth of the infantry during the war. Made of rubber with a white linen backing, small brass grommets, with dimensions of 46 inches by 71 inches.   

Ponchos were mainly used by the cavalry, but there are accounts of infantrymen using them. Ponchos have a reinforced slit in the middle of the spread, with a tin button closure. Same small brass 9/16 inch diameter grommets are also used. We will accept both, but the Rubber (or Gum) Blanket is the preferred choice.  (EOG/US/215) 

U.S. Issue Blanket

Our standards. Must be a documented pattern and can be either the gray issue wool blanket with black woven end stripes and 4 to 4.5 inch US letters stitched in the middle of the blanket, or the brown issue blanket with woven brown end stripes and 4 to 4.5 inch US letters stitched in the middle of the blanket. Blankets should not have bound edges, if they do, they must be removed. All blankets should have a noticeable diagonal weave, especially visible in the end stripes.  Dimensions should be close to 7 feet by 5 feet-six inches, weighing about five pounds.   

Don't go cheap when purchasing an issue blanket. You want something that will keep you warm, using only one blanket as allotted by the government.  (EOG/US/214) 

U.S. Issue Shelter Half

Our standards. Shelter halves were generally made of 8 ounce cotton duck, with varying dimensions in the area of 66 inches long by 65 inches wide (original shelter halves did shrink quite a bit, so their are dimension differences between original shelter halves), had twenty three hand sewn bone or tin buttons & buttonholes of waxed cotton thread, and 8 hand sewn grommet holes (includes the guy rope and pole grommets).  Shelter halves were not issued with brass grommets and machine-stitched buttons & buttonholes; therefore this common modern construction method used by some merchants is NOT  acceptable.

Shelter halves should have a guy rope of six-thread manila line that extends six feet, ten inches in length. The same manila line is also used for the tent stake loops.  Early war three panel sections are preferred for all Citizen Guard impressions also coined as Type II shelter halves by Fred Gaede. All shelter halves shall be correct in pattern, materials, and construction compared to the original specimens.  Type III shelter halves (October of 1863 issue according to Fred Gaede) would be appropriate for later war impressions, which feature two panel sections of cotton duck and in some documented specimens tabby weave and blue line canvas material.  It takes two shelter halves to make a shelter tent.

Tent pegs for the shelter half were issued by the Federal Army during the war. They were generally made of wood, with a curved top, which slimed down to a narrow point. Obviously these were lost during campaigning, but seemed to be a lightweight item that could be easily carried in a knapsack (Each soldier would carry two pegs for his shelter half). We typically recommend using hard wood sticks as tent pegs. During an active campaign, soldiers would not have carried metal or iron tent stakes in their knapsacks because they are too heavy to cart around. Tent poles have a similar history. While there were issue tent poles (at times) many soldiers appear to have fashioned their own poles out of what they could find in terms of tree branches. For further information on shelter halves, please consult Frederick C. Gaede’s monograph The Federal Civil War Shelter Tent, Tim Shaw's article, "The Lowly Shelter Tent," in Vol. 3, No. 2 issue of The Watchdog, and Patrick McDermott's article, "A Survey of Civil War Shelter Halves," in The Company Wag, a publication of The Mudsills, Inc., Vol. 1, No.2, (September, 1988).     (EOG/US/214) 

Did Soldiers Actually Carry All of These Things? Most or many did! And items lost or destroyed were reissued at times. Here are the requisitions of the Second Wisconsin from June 12 through August 13, 1862, regarding equipage. The following table is from Howard Michael Madaus' article, "The Uniform of the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg." The table is entry 4381, Record Group No. 393, Pt. II, from the National Archives. This table appears as a footnote on page 357 of In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg, by Lance J. Herdegen and William J.K. Beaudot. 


June 12, 1862

July 3, 1862

July 11, 1862

Aug. 13, 1862
















Rubber Blankets





Shelter Tents






A bit of history. The following account is an ordnance summary from June 30, 1863 as documented by Howard Michael Madaus in his article, "The Uniform of the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg": 

“Among the Wisconsin regiments, the eight reporting companies of the 2nd Wisconsin claimed two-hundred and sixty-seven Austrian "Lorenz" M1854 rifle-muskets in their original .54 caliber.  (Companies E and H had failed to report their arms as of June 30.) These had replaced their sheet iron .69 caliber smoothbore altered percussion muskets during January of 1862.”  (363) 

By January 1864, quartermaster records indicate that the Second Wisconsin was issued new Enfield rifle-muskets to use for the duration of their muster.

Our standards. Since there is not a dependable reproduction source for the Austrian "Lorenz" M1854, .54 caliber rifle-musket & replacement parts at this time except for original weapons, we have opted for some other commonly reproduced rifle-muskets during the war. We prefer the M1861 Springfield rifle-musket that the 6th Wisconsin carried, or the Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle-musket that the Citizens Guard carried by January of 1864. All muskets must have three-barrel bands, with exception to original Austrian Lorenz M1854, .54 caliber rifle-muskets, which are of course highly encouraged but are expensive. 

If the Enfield rifle-musket is purchased, it should be burnished (bright). We also suggest that modern makers' marks should be removed, and any necessary modifications be made to ensure the accuracy of your rifle-musket.  (EOG/US/28-29, 36-37, 38-39, 40-41, 42-43) 


Our standards. You also need to purchase a corresponding pattern bayonet for your rifle-musket. Make sure it fits on your rifle-musket properly before purchasing. File off any modern markings. Original bayonets are even better if you can find one to fit your rifle-musket.

Rifle-Musket Sling

Our standards. Leather rifle-musket slings of documented patterns only. Here is a section from Geoff Walden's article, "Sling, Arms!," in Vol. 3, No. 3 issue of The Watchdog. It is a great description of what to look for in reproduction musket slings. 

“The US regulation sling was a leather strap, 46 inches long and 1 1/4 inch wide, with a captive loop at one end, and a brass hook at the other, and a sliding keeper between (US Ordnance Manual, 1861, p.228). The leather specified was "russet bag-leather," which was a brown color, lighter weight leather. It was not the bright orange-red of most reproductions, but was a medium brown that darkened after it was oiled. Besides the color here are other things to look for (and avoid) on reproductions. There should be no rivets, except those holding the hook on. The captive loop and the sliding keeper were sewn, not riveted. The hook should be a flat brass hook with a point, about 3/4-inch long.  It should not be made of brass or iron wire. The end of the sling should be folded over & sewn, and the back of the hook should pass between these leather pieces, and be riveted with two small brass rivets.” (6) 

For further information on rifle-musket slings, please consult Geoff Walden's article, "Sling, Arms!," in Vol. 3, No. 3 issue of The Watchdog

Mess Furniture

Our standards.  A soldiers mess items should consist of a tin cup or fruit can boiler, knife, fork, and spoon (or combination set), and a plate/canteen half. No stainless steel mess furniture will be allowed!

A.  Tin Cup: Made of tin, with proper lipped bottom, wire reinforced cup handle, cup size approximately 4 by 4 inches. No crimped bottom cups.   

B.  Fruit Can Boiler: An alternative to the tin cup, made of tin, with a lipped bottom, and a wire bail. No crimped bottoms or sides.   

C.  Knife: Plain wood or bone handles with straight steel blades. 

D.  Fork: Plain wood or bone handles with 2, 3 or 4 steel tines. 

E.  Spoon: Made of stamped steel or iron, with a fiddle or oar shaped handle. 

F.  Combination Set: Must be of a documented pattern, with steel knife, fork, & spoon attachments.   

G.  Plate: Made of stamped or hot dipped tin, approximately 8.5 to 9.5 inches in diameter. 

H.  Canteen Half: An alternative to a plate, which can additionally function as a skillet. Must be of tin; no stainless steel.   

I.  Skillet:  An alternative to a canteen half. Must be made of thin sheet iron with thin riveted handles. They should also have a looped or hooked end at the tip of the handle. These will be closely inspected for accuracy.  Once again, stick to the Uniform & Equipage List and you will do fine. A picture of an existing Civil War skillet can be seen in Time-Life Books, Echoes of Glory: Volume 1 - Arms & Equipment of the Confederacy, page 214.  (EOG/US/224-225)   


Our standards: The sewing kit of the common soldier used during the Civil War. Generally homemade of cotton (shirting material), linen, wool, or silk, entirely hand sewn using cotton or linen thread; with compartments for thread, buttons, needles, and patching material. They should neatly roll up or fold, and be secured by two cloth ties or a hand sewn button.    

Leather housewives, or those of a black tarred exterior coating are also acceptable, but must be patterned after a documented wartime article. May be either hand or machine sewn, with compartments for thread, buttons, needles, and patching material.

This is a very handy item for all to have in their kits. For further information on sewing kits commonly called housewives, please consult Erle H. Roberts' article, "Sewing Kits of the Civil War," contained in The Hardcracker Handbook.  (EOG/US/222-223) 

Additional Items (Not Required to Purchase… Note Listing towards the end of this guide regarding times lines and recommended items)


Our standards.  Foot Pattern only. Some features include a greenish cast sky blue kersey wool with a diagonal weave, standing three inch collar, two sets of hooks and eyes, hand sewn button holes and buttons using dark blue or logwood faded (brown) cotton or linen thread, body lining of dark blue kersey wool or a light brown wool & cotton/linen mixed lining, sleeve lining of cotton drill, cape with six 5/8 inch general service eagle buttons, front with five ¾ inch general service eagle buttons, back half belt with two ¾ inch general service eagle buttons attached, two piece cuffs, and a unhemmed skirt bottom.  (EOG/US/128-129) 


Our standards. Must be well-fitted and constructed of documented materials and pattern. Either military or civilian patterns are acceptable. All buttonholes and buttons should be hand sewn, using cotton or linen thread.  (EOG/US/121)          


A bit of history.  The Second Wisconsin was issued in early May of 1862, linen leggings by the order of Brigadier General John Gibbon. They were disliked by many in the Black Hat Brigade during the summer of 1862. Here is a passage from William H. Harries, Company B, Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment, describing his view of leggings. This passage is from Mr. Harries' article, "In the Ranks at Antietam," which is part of George H. Otis' compilation, The Second Wisconsin Infantry

“General Gibbon tried at one time tried to make us wear leggings.  They were troublesome to keep clean. The Virginia mud would cling to them with a tenacity that would make the soldiers swearing mad. One day just as we were starting out for brigade drill, as the general's horse was brought out to him to mount it was found someone had enclosed his horse's legs in the leggings.  When the boys saw this they raised a great shout of laughter.  Gibbon tried to find out who it was that played the trick but was unable to do so.” (262) 

According to quartermaster records, this was a one-time issue for the entire regiment. By the fall of 1862, many of these items were in rather tattered shape. Only one known serviceable pair of leggings was able to last into 1863. 

Our standards. Must be of the correct leather looped thong pattern, and made of white linen or canvas. No other patterns are acceptable.   

The leggings leather loops are attached to the inside of each legging. Each successive leather thong, beginning from the bottom, was looped through the upper one until the top of the leather strap. 

Additionally, all leggings should have a correct buckle closure at the top leather strap, and a bottom leather strap, which passes underneath a soldier's shoes and attaches via two copper rivets. Correct maker's marks are also appropriate. 

These will be severely inspected for accuracy. Only one merchant currently makes an accurate pair of leggings for our impression. Stick to the Uniform & Equipage List and you will do fine.

The Citizens Guard will only wear leggings for a late spring-fall, 1862 impression.  (EOG/US/190)   

Civilian Hat


Our standards. Documented pattern, construction and materials only and a popular style available to the troops at the time. Preferred styles include the pork pie, crown (the so-called beehive), bowler, plug, and other documented selections in dark colors such as black, dark brown or dark gray. The hats should have a grosgrain ribbon surrounding the brim and around the base of the crown. The hat should be constructed of fur felt with an interior liner of cloth. The sweatband should be constructed of thin dyed leather. (EOG/US/186)


Personal Items

Our standards. These items should generally be carried in a soldier's pockets or knapsack. Some items are only appropriate for a camp impression. These should be rather limited in your kit. 

A.  Matches: Generally made out of pine, with red tips, and contained in period cardboard matchbox. Make sure label is of a documented manufacturer, and not a modern maker. Matches were issued to soldiers as well in attached strings or single sticks.  (EOG/US/222) 

B.  Match Box {Match Safe}: A private purchase item that some soldiers used to protect their matches from getting damp and wet. Francis A. Lord, in his Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia, states, "One of the author's collection is of heavy tin, oval in shape, 3 ¼ inches long, 2 ¼ inches wide" (162).  Look at antique stores for some plain tin matchboxes. Avoid most sutler row matchboxes, which contain modern markings and designs. (EOG/US/222) 

C.  Cotton Napkin and Towel: Another item from home or purchased privately. Made out of cotton (the same fabric as your civilian shirt), with two to three colored woven patterns such as small plaids, checks, and stripes. The woven patterns should be the same on the reverse side of the fabric. A simple ¼ inch overlapped hand sewn (whip stitched) border is an additional touch that will prevent fraying of the material. Approximate size should be around 24 by 24 inches. Period cotton towels of correct pattern and weave are also appropriate such as huck toweling. 

Francis A. Lord, in his Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia, states, "In the Ferris collection is a hand blocked cotton handkerchief (As we learned from William Brewster at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, this is correctly called a napkin, not a handkerchief), carried in the war by Daniel Heyden, Co. E 149th New York Infantry. The dominant color is red, with white circular designs spread throughout. The size is 25 by 22 inches." (119)    (EOG/US/223) 

D.  Pocket Watch: Key wind watches with relatively plain silver, silver alloy, or highly expensive gold watch covers and backings. Look for roman numerals. You can expect to pay quite a bit for an accurate Civil War timepiece. These will be closely inspected for accuracy. Watch chains seem to be rather rare.

E.  Pipes:  Stick with simple pipes that an enlisted man of limited means would carry. These were commonly made of briar, clay, or wood with corresponding reed or wood stems. Period tobacco use only. Plain rolled cigars are also allowed, but absolutely no cigarettes. (EOG/US/222) 

F.  Toothbrush: Comprised of wood or bone handles with either horsehair or boars' hair bristles commonly called "natural bristles."  Please remove any modern markings. Tooth powder or baking soda shall only be used with your toothbrush. (EOG/US/223) 

G.  Wallet: A private purchase item that some soldiers used to organize any small bills that they had. All wallets shall be correct in pattern, materials, and construction per original specimens. Materials such as leather and rubber were common per original wallets. Francis A. Lord, in his Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia, states, "Most wallets were of brown leather, 4 to 4 ½ inches long and 2 ½ to 3 inches wide. Many have a wrap-around strap.  In the author's collection is a wallet of finely-tooled leather 7 ½ inches long and 3 5/8 inches wide. It belonged to Corporal H.V. Polley, 14th New Jersey Volunteers. The excellent quality of Polley's wallet is unusual. Moreover, its large size rendered it cumbersome to carry in the field" (332). (EOG/US/223) 

H.  Playing Cards: Playing card decks should be rather plain without numbers and plastic coatings. Can be either patriotic Union decks or standard decks with a flat finish. (EOG/US/222) 

I.  Mirror: A small tin or wooden cased looking glass of approximately three inches in diameter. No modern markings allowed. (EOG/US/222) 

J.  Razor:  Straight steel blades with bone, horn or hard rubber handles.  These can be found at antique stores. Once again, no modern markings allowed. (EOG/US/222) 

K.  Comb: Composed of wood, bone, or hard rubber. Hard rubber folding combs are easier to carry than straight wooden or bone combs. Once again, no modern markings allowed. (EOG/US/222-223) 

L.  Writing Tablet & Stationary:  Plain white or yellowish paper bounded in a period covering such as leather or marble paperboard. Avoid modern bindings and markings. Stationary must be of documented design and construction. No modern stationary allowed.  (EOG/US/222-223) 

M.  Pens, Ink, & Pencils:  Pens should be rather plain with steel or wooden points. According to Vol. 1, No. 4 issue of The Watchdog, "Pens actually used during the war have straight, unpainted wooden shafts with metal fixtures on the business ends to accept nibs" (7). Ink should be carried in a tin, glass, or wooden inkwell. Pencils should be plain, without modern markings and erasers. (EOG/US/222-223) 

N. Camp Furniture. Pull up a log boys or just simply sit on the ground like the original members of the Citizens Guard did. No folding camp chairs or straw bales allowed in camp. These post-date the war. This is not negotiable.


Uniform & Equipage Standards for the Commissioned Officer

Commercial Officer’s Blouse

A bit of history. Commercial (also called Private Purchase) Officers Blouses were seen on many Second Wisconsin officers during the war as documented by several field photographs. The photograph in the holdings of the La Crosse Historical Society depicts many Second Wisconsin Company Officers including the Citizens Guard’s George Stevens wearing a Commercial Officers Blouse. The Wisconsin Historical Society also has a full length studio picture of Captain James D. Wood of Company D Second Wisconsin showing him wearing a fine four button commercial blouse with three outside pockets.

Our standards. The commercial officer’s blouse should exhibit a four or five button front, with two to three outside pockets and one inside pocket. Can be made of either an indigo dyed fine grade wool cloth (broadcloth) or wool flannel with corresponding lining as seen on original specimens such as black silk or polished cotton. Sleeve lining can be of patterned cotton or cotton muslin. Sleeves may also feature a large circumference around the elbow, which was another stylish trait in officer’s blouses. Black velvet collars and cuffs are also acceptable as seen on many original commercial blouses.

The private purchase officer’s blouse must be accurate in terms of pattern, construction and materials compared with an original article. Due to the variety of documented construction methods in this commercial garment, the officer’s blouse may be either completely hand sewn, hand sewn with machine topstitching, or a combination of both hand and machine sewing as per an original specimen. Hand sewn details such as quilting, linings, and facings were common features present in officer’s commercial blouses as well. Buttons and buttonholes must be hand sewn using blue or black cotton or silk thread.

The Citizens Guard prefers an officer’s commercial blouse to be lined but unlined blouses are also acceptable. Seams should be flat felled in all unlined officer commercial blouses.

Unless documented for a particular impression, please avoid the use of enlisted fatigue blouses if possible. Please refer to our enlisted standards for this garment. (EOG/US/119) 

Officer’s Private Purchase Dress Coat (Frock)

A bit of history. There are plenty of studio and a few field photographs of company grade officers wearing private purchase dress coats in the 2d Wisconsin. Photographic evidence of Company C, Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment depicts the officers of the Grant County Grays clothed in dress coats during the late spring/early summer of 1862 (SHSW negative no. WHi (X3) 11298). It was an officer’s choice to wear either a commercial blouse or private purchase dress coat. These garments were typically expertly tailored and well made as several of us have seen an original worn by Captain Fred L. Warner, Company G Seventh Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Our standards. The officer’s private purchase dress coat features include an indigo dyed fine grade woolen cloth (broadcloth), a standing collar, skirt with two rear pockets, padded black or brown polished cotton, alpaca, or tow chest lining, cotton muslin sleeve lining. An internal coat pocket is also acceptable if documented by an original dress coat. Sleeves may also feature a large circumference around the elbow, which was another stylish trait in officer dress coats as well. Private purchase dress coats must have nine 3/4 inch general service eagle buttons* on body front, three 5/8 inch general service eagle buttons on each functional cuff, two 3/4 inch general service eagle buttons in back (above the skirt tails), and two ¾ general service eagle buttons on the tails. *Buttons on these coats can be branch of service, state or staff, but we prefer officers’ coats to have general service or branch of service buttons.

The private purchase officers dress coat must be accurate in terms of pattern, construction, and materials compared with an original article. Due to the documented variance among original dress coats, the Citizens Guard prefers a dress coat to be hand sewn or "mostly" hand sewn. A combination of hand and machine work is acceptable as seen in original garments. In particular note that hand sewn details such as quilting, linings, and facings were very common features in commercial officers dress coats as well. Buttonholes and buttons shall be all hand sewn using blue or black cotton or silk thread.

An eye and hook should be attached at the collar. Black velvet collars and cuffs are also acceptable as seen on many original specimens.

Officers dress coats are highly encouraged for all junior officers of the Citizens Guard. Officers cannot wear enlisted dress coats. (EOG/US/116-117)

Officer’s Commercial Trowsers (Foot Pattern)

Our standards: Commercial Officer trowsers custom tailored are preferred to create the proper look. Some basic features include a greenish cast sky blue or dark blue wool cloth (broadcloth), correct rise of trowsers in the seat (back yoke), right side watch pocket, narrow tapered waistband, four or six stamped paper backed tin, tin backed tin, china, or documented composition suspender buttons or, five small paper back tin, tin backed tin, china, or documented composition fly buttons, side seam pockets, correct overlapping cuff vents with internal cuff facings, correct fly panels and facings, back belt with adjustable tines, etc. Correct corresponding thin trowser welt (sky blue for dark blue trowsers, dark blue for sky blue trowsers) down the outside seam of the trowser.

Buttonholes and tieback grommet holes shall be hand sewn with dark blue cotton thread.

Enlisted dark blue or sky blue kersey wool trowsers are also acceptable for officer impressions although commercial trowsers are preferred. Please refer to our enlisted standards for this garment.

Officer’s Commercial Haversack

Our standards. Commercial black oilcloth, painted cloth, or tooled leather haversack, which includes inner bag compartment halves. Hand & machine sewn construction methods as per original specimens. Outside flaps may be either plain or embossed. Adjustable leather strap with leather closure tab.

Officer’s Commercial Haversacks are preferred. Enlisted haversacks may ONLY be worn on a documented basis. Please refer to our enlisted standards for this accouterment. (EOG/US/201)

Officer’s Commercial Waist Belt (Sword Belt)

Our standards. Made of bridle, patent, or folded leather, dyed black with varying documented styles and dimensions per original specimens. Due to such variance, all Citizens Guard officers must base their accouterment on an original officer’s waist belt of known service during the war. Officer’s waist belts must have the correct rectangle eagle belt plate affixed with an accompanying brass eye to secure the belt. Details such as a leather belt keeper, brass adjustable buckle which controls the length of the waistbelt, hand-sewn leather loop reinforcements, two one-inch wide leather supporting straps, and brass hardware such as the loops, swivel snaps, sword hanger, and studs must all be accurate when compared to an original specimen.

Referring to "Regulations and Notes-Uniform of the AUS 1861." specifies the dimensions for officer's sword belt(s) and indicates that for General Officer's Russian Leather is to be used.  For other officers, black leather, plain. Dorsey's "American Military Belts and Related Equipments" implies that officer's belts were constructed with "planned obsolescence" and of flimsy strength (folded leather being predominant). Two examples including dimensions are displayed. Of note, shoulder belts were commonly excluded from officer's belts. A reference in Volume XLVII #3 MC&H refers to a rebuilt (junior) officer's belt (western federal - folded leather) that was apparently modified in the field with "collar leather" while the owner was in the "west."

An officer’s commercial waist belt may be worn with or without a shoulder strap. Many officers during the war chose not to wear a belt made with a shoulder strap at all. Officer’s commercial waist belts should be entirely hand sewn per original specimens. (EOG/US/200)

Officer’s Insignia

A bit of history. Officer’s insignia among company grade officers in the Second Wisconsin was very common by looking at various field photographs in taken in the late spring/summer of 1862 at their camp near Falmouth, Virginia. In particular, all officers photographed could be seen wearing appropriate shoulder straps indicative of their rank. As the war progressed, more and more officers wanted to conceal their rank from the enemy by wearing miniature shoulder straps, small collar ranks attached on the shoulders or collars, and by cutting out the symbolic rank from a shoulder strap and attaching it directly to the coat. The latter description is one that can be verified by Major Rufus Dawes of the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. According to the research of Lance Herdegen, by the battle of Gettysburg, Rufus Dawes is believed to have started the habit of cutting out the leaf from his shoulder strap and sewing the leaf directly to his coat. Photographic evidence from other sources depicting Army of the Potomac company level officers in the field seems to indicate by 1864, subdued rank was definitely in use.

Our standards. Insignia for officers of the Citizens Guard should be reflective of the documented trends during the war. Shoulder straps must be worn at all times unless documented for a specific impression. The use of subdued rank such as collar ranks, miniature shoulder straps (primarily sewn on blouses), and the cut out ranks from shoulder straps may be used for 2d Wisconsin impressions after 1863. Shoulder straps must feature a fine gold embroidery with complementing French blue or medium blue fields of velvet or fine wool. Gold borders can be either single or double as per original specimens. Backing materials can be either velvet or fine wool. Miniature shoulder straps and collar ranks should be crafted of the same materials as standard shoulder straps.

For those instances when an officer from the Citizens Guard is asked to portray a staff impression, shoulder straps with dark blue fields could be used unless documentation proves otherwise. (EOG/US/116-119, 175)

Officer’s Headgear

A bit of history. Photographic evidence and research by various authors including Alan Nolan in his book, The Iron Brigade: A Military History, indicates the many of the officers of the Second Wisconsin and the Iron Brigade wore some form of the 1858 US Army officers dress hat or privately contracted versions of the hat. Commercial slouch hats are also seen in photos. Posed pictures of several of the officers of the Second Wisconsin including Lucius Fairchild show them wearing a commercial version of a forage cap but this appears to be the exception. The embroidered infantry bugle and eagle, gold and black officers hat cord and plume are often seen in pictures taken early in the war and became less prevalent as the war progressed. What sets the officer’s dress hat apart from the enlisted mans' dress hat are the weight of the material used in the hat, bound brim, lined interior, embroidered decorations and officer's hat cord.

Our standards. It is strongly recommended that officers of the Citizens Guard wear the 1858 Officer's Dress Hat, commercial variations or commercially available civilian hats. Construction of the hat must be of fur or wool felt with a brim bound in silk or satin and lined interior using period construction methods. On the 1858 Officer's Dress Hat, the brim may be folded up and held in place by an embroidered eagle device. An embroidered infantry bugle may also be worn on any of the hats. The black and gold officer's hat cord and plume may also be worn although the plume is more appropriate to early war impressions.

When a civilian hat is worn, it should be a bowler, crown (the so-called beehive), plug or porkpie styles. The hats should be a dark color such as black, dark brown or dark gray. The hats should have a grosgrain ribbon surrounding the brim and around the base of the crown. The hat should be constructed of fur felt with an interior liner of cloth. The sweatband should be constructed of a thin, dyed leather. The La Crosse Historical Society picture of the Second Wisconsin officers taken in the Spring/Summer of 1862 shows all these styles on the officers pictured. For a further description of civilian hats acceptable for officers, please review the enlisted section on Civilian Hats of this publication. (EOG/US/186)

Use of the 1858 enlisted forage cap for the Citizens Guard officer impression is discouraged, but there is some documentation of the private purchase forage cap and officers kepi among the officers of the Second Wisconsin. The La Crosse Historical Society photo (spring/summer 1862) has a company grade officer in the middle of the picture with a plain private purchase forage cap. Also Captains Wilson Colwell, James Wood, and Col. O'Connor are seen in studio pictures with an officer’s private purchase kepi. In our standards, the private purchase forage cap or kepi must be accurate in terms of pattern, construction, and materials as compared to an original article. Once again, because of historical documentation, we believe the majority of officers wore the officers dress hat or a various selection of bowlers, crowns, plugs, and porkpies. These are preferred. (EOG/US/178-181,184-186)

Officer’s Footwear

A bit of history.  Studio and field photographs of company officers in the Second Wisconsin show them wearing a variety of footwear. Some are wearing privately purchased low cut boots. Others are wearing private purchase shoes. Still others are wearing variations of the army issue bootee. Men who were on the march favored a low cut boot or bootee in deference to the higher cut boots or private purchase shoes worn by field and staff officers and the mounted services. As with other parts of the officer's uniform, his footwear was privately purchased and what he wore on his feet often reflected his status in life.

Our standards. Officers of Citizens Guard have several options when it comes to footwear. The federal issue bootee, privately contracted variations of the bootee or low cut military style boot are all appropriate. For issue bootees, please see the enlisted equipment standards. Private purchase variations of the military issue bootee must be of period design and construction methods. Boots should be cut below the knee and constructed of waxed vegetable tanned leather with either sewn or pegged soles. Shoes of non-military design are discouraged. EOG/US/190-193)

1850 Foot Officer’s Sword

A bit of history.  A basic part of any company grade officer impression is the regulation 1850 Foot Officer's Sword. Officers were required to privately purchase their sword. Men of wealth were able to purchase swords with more elaborate decoration or imports of various configurations. The majority of company officers purchased variations of the 1850 Foot Officers sword. Photographs of officers of the Second Wisconsin show that they carried swords that were of this configuration though it is hard to tell the Foot Officers sword from the Field and Staff sword without seeing the blade. Research shows that more Foot Officers swords had leather scabbards than metal. The sword itself was either plain or engraved.

Our standards. It is strongly recommended that officers of the Citizens Guard use the 1850 Foot Officers Sword with leather scabbard. Metal scabbards are also acceptable. This sword has a straight undecorated or decorated blade that is unsharpened with a rounded, pointed tip (the 1850 Foot Officers Sword on p. 74 of EOG shows a sword with some engraving still extant). 

The brass basket and grip are much less ornate than that of the Field and Staff Officers sword but still contains the letters US. The grip is wrapped in ray skin and held in place by brass twisted wire. The scabbard could be made of either leather or metal like the Field and Staff sword. A brass drag at the bottom and brass hardware are found on both scabbards. The 1850 Field and Staff Sword was generally not available to company level officers due to cost and should avoided if possible. Variations of the 1850 Foot Officers Sword and swords imported from Europe may be used if they are of period design but are discouraged. Cavalry sabers and artillery swords with curved blades should not be used for an infantry impression. (EOG/US/74-75, 84-85) 

Officer's Small Caliber Sidearm

A bit of history.  Photographic evidence and accounts of many officers indicate that as the war progressed side arms were carried less and less since an officer considered the body of men that he commanded to be his best weapon. Examples of side arms carried by infantry officers indicate that they favored smaller caliber cap and ball revolvers of .36 or .31 caliber due to the smaller size and weight. This was in contrast to the .44 caliber revolvers favored by the officers and men of the mounted services. The most popular examples of small caliber revolvers were the various models produced by Colt with over 500,000 produced before and during the war. The most common models were the six shot 1851 Navy in .36 caliber, the five shot 1862 Pocket Police in .36 caliber. The second most widely available small caliber revolvers were produced by Remington with the .36 caliber 1858 Navy. Other manufacturers produced variations of the Colt and Remington revolvers and a .32 caliber rim fire, cartridge, revolver was produced by Smith and Wesson but did not see widespread use. Several varieties of imported revolvers were seen in small numbers but were not widely used.

Our standards. If a sidearm is carried, it is strongly recommended that officers of the Citizens Guard use the Colt 1851 Navy.  With over 250,000 produced before and during the war, the Colt Navy was the most widely available model of revolver to the Union army. The Colt Navy should have a blued, hardened steel frame with either steel or brass trigger guard and octagon barrel. All other metal parts of the revolver would be of blued steel. Grips should be constructed of maple or walnut. No mother of pearl or ivory grips should be used. Non-period markings should be removed. Other models of Colt or Remington revolvers in smaller calibers are acceptable but must also have a steel frame and have all non period markings removed. Large caliber Colt or Remington revolvers may be used but are discouraged. Use of revolvers from other manufacturers must be well documented.

Brass framed versions of either Colt or Remington revolvers in any caliber or .44 caliber, round barreled, or short barreled versions of the Colt 1851 Navy did not exist and should not be used for any impression.  (EOG/US/64-69) 

Officer’s Sidearm Holster

A bit of history.  The period officers holster was designed to be worn on the right side of the sword belt with the rear of the holster facing to the front to allow the pistol to be drawn using the left hand since the right hand is used to draw the sword. When placed in the holster, the grips of the revolver are facing to the front unlike the more modern cowboy holster. The period holster should also have a flap to covering the top of the pistol with a fastening strap. The flap is held in place using a brass finial on the side of the holster.

Our standards.  Holsters carried by officers of the Citizens Guard will be made of black leather, smooth side out with hand sewn seams of linen thread and copper rivets holding the belt loop and closure strap.  The strap will close over a brass finial. The holster needs to be of sufficient size to completely enclose the sidearm. As mention above, the holster will be worn on the right side with the back of the holster facing forward to allow the sidearm to be drawn with the left hand. No modern or plain leather holster should be used by Citizens Guard officers. (EOG/US/ 201) 

Purchasing Tips


  1. Do not purchase any item on your own!  Each new Citizens Guard member will be paired with a member from the Authenticity Committee.  The Authenticity Committee member will guide each new member through the ordering process to insure you are getting the correct uniform & equipage. They will use the Uniform & Equipage List as the approved shopping list for the Citizens Guard.


  1. Never, never, buy anything unless it is on the Uniform & Equipage List!  Sutlers will try to sell you anything as being authentic. Be on guard, and resist the temptation to rush out and purchase your uniform. We have made numerous mistakes in the past, and do not want to see our new and established members fall down the same road we did. Remember, unacceptable uniform & equipage will be removed regardless of the expense. If you purchase a item from a non-approved merchant, you will have to replace it with an item that is from a approved merchant. Work with your assigned Authenticity Committee member to avoid such circumstances.
  1. Do not assume since a merchant is listed as an approved source for one item, that they are approved in other areas.  The Uniform & Equipage List details whom is approved for each uniform and equipage category.  Stick to the list and you will do fine!
  1. Since most of our merchants strive for the exact replication of their products to the original articles, waiting time for these items may be quite substantial. Be patient and plan your purchases way ahead of time. Your assigned Authenticity Committee member will aid in this area as well.   
  1. Above all, have fun and enjoy the experience of putting together your kit! We take pride in our impression and we hope you will too.

Purchasing Timeline

Preface:  This is the typical order of uniform & equipage procurement for the Citizens Guard.  It generally takes approximately two years to put your kit together.

Minimum Uniform & Equipage (You will need these items in order to fall in with us at an event!): 

Jefferson Bootees, Pattern of 1858 Dress Hat, Fatigue Blouse, Sky Blue Kersey Trowsers, Spectacles (if necessary), Civilian Shirt, Suspenders, Wool Socks, Leather Loop Keeper Waist Belt, Canteen, Haversack, Mess Furniture.  

Uniform & Equipage Highly Recommended (You will need these items in order to complete your kit!):  

Cartridge Box, Cartridge Box Belt, Cap Box, Two Rivet Bayonet Scabbard, Rifle-Musket, Bayonet, Rifle-Musket Sling, Rubber Blanket, Wool Blanket, Forage Cap, Knapsack, Drawers, Issue Shirt, Shelter Half, Housewife, Uniform Coat, & Dark Blue Trowsers. 

Additional Items (Great items to have to further expand your horizons and ability to enact certain scenarios): 

Overcoat, Leggings, Vest, Civilian Hat & Personal Items.  


A bit of history.  Here is some great information on the rations issued to the Iron Brigade during 1863. The following passage is from the book, Echoes From the Marches of the Famous Iron Brigade

“Doc Aubrey has in his collection of war relics all the papers of the quartermaster of the Seventh Wisconsin regiment and a tabulated report shows that the Old Iron Brigade in 1863 used 1, 337 barrels of pork, 29, 694 pounds of bacon, 35, 593 pounds of ham, 528 pounds of fresh beef, 742 cattle slaughtered, 1, 748 barrels of flour, 487, 307 pounds of hard bread, 1, 764 pounds of cornmeal, 60, 820 pounds of beans, 9, 336 pounds of rice, 16, 420 pounds of dried apples, 884 pounds dried peaches, 55, 565 pounds of coffee, 715 pounds of tea, 124, 898 pounds of brown sugar, 917 pounds white sugar, 8, 659 pounds of candles, 18, 007 pounds of soap, 19, 672 pounds of salt, 571 pounds of pepper, 24, 241 gallons of vinegar, 1, 062 gallons of pickles, 232 cabbages, 458 gallons whisky, 2, 080 desiccated vegetables, 20, 436 pounds potatoes, 7, 962 onions, 3, 210 beets, 2, 782 turnips, 1, 158 pounds of carrots.  The average number of men was 1, 863, a daily cost per man of 24 ½ cents.  This included the feeding of the One Hundred and Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania militia, who were attached from July 17th to Aug. 5th.”  (51-52)  

We also have a unique perspective on hard bread, commonly known as hardtack. On July 10, 1861, Charles C. Dow, Company G, Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry wrote to his friend James from Arlington Heights, Virginia: 

This hard bread is a great institution. You might soak a biscuit in a cup of coffee six weeks, and then you would have a good set of teeth to eat it. This kind of bread I suppose was made to keep. I think the maker has got the receipt for making it, for I have not the least doubt but what it would keep ten thousand years and then be as fresh as now.”  (136) 

Our standards. Since we portray the Citizens Guard on active campaign, we try to limit our rations to those items issued on the march. This includes hardtack, coffee, brown sugar, salt pork or salt beef, fresh pork, bacon, ham, or fresh beef. When portraying a camp impression, we add apples, dried fruit, desiccated vegetables, onions, corn meal, rice, red potatoes, soft bread, tea, salt, sweet potatoes, soap, & candles. Also appropriate are foraging items as well as gifts from home. Stay away from non-period foods and modern canned food. 

Rations must be packaged in a period way. This includes muslin or cotton ration bags, wrapping items in a period cloth (such as muslin) or plain brown paper, small glass bottles with cork stoppers, & in period cans. Avoid plastic at all costs! 

During several times each year, we will institute a company wide ration issue. Contents of this ration issue will be based upon our impression, and the wishes and means of the membership. 

Hardtack was the basic staple of the Federal infantryman during the war. We recommend that all members purchase hardtack from the vendor listed on the Uniform & Equipage List. Commercially made hardtack resembles the original item much better than homemade products.   

For those who wish to make their own with a hardtack cutter (Village Tinsmithing Works sells them), here is a recipe that works fairly well.  It resembles the original product, but it does not have the uniformity & consistency that commercially made hardtack does. Unfortunately for us, the only true way to make hardtack requires a special type of cracker flour. 

Hardtack Recipe: 

2 Cups Flour (Unbleached White Flour)

3/4 Cup Water 

Mix ingredients and roll out dough six times to a thickness of 1/2 inch.  You may have to add some flour or water to the mix while combining the ingredients. The mixture should be rather dry and not too sticky. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a greased cookie sheet. If you have a Hardtack Cutter, simply cut out the crackers and place them on the greased cookie sheet. Then bake these crackers for about 40 minutes or until they become slightly off white. Check them periodically while baking just to make sure your not burning them. These crackers should not be all light brown when finished baking. Let crackers air out for 12 to 24 hours until they harden. They may need some additional baking if the middle is still soft. If that is the case, just reheat them at 300 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes and keep a close eye on them.

If you do not have a Hardtack Cutter: With a sharp knife and a ruler, cut out crackers to (3 by 3 inches) or (3 by 3 1/4 inches). Place 16 equal holes (Four Rows) into the crackers using a nail head. Proceed as above.    

It may take you a couple of times in order to get the results you want. If all else fails, one can take heart in the following passage from Alan D. Gaff's Book, Brave Men's Tears: “The army stores were being removed, except for the immense quantities of food which could not be carried off.  Pork and hardtack were being burned by the wagonload to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.”  (30) 

Soap and candles were another important ration issue for the boys while in camp.   

First Person Impressions

Upon joining the Citizens Guard, all members are required to select a first person impression they would like to portray from the Citizens Guard. We will make allowances for those members who wish to depict their own relatives from the war. You will be addressed by your first person persona at all living histories & reenactments. 

Concepts to remember when portraying a first person impression include: the soldier's enlistment date, hometown, ethnicity, occupation, height, weight, hair and eye color, any wounds received during the war, and family background. 

It is also important is remember that these men for the most part were all civilians before the war. Find out what public interests would be talked about during the 1860's. Politics, local businesses, farming, hometown acquaintances, religion, social events, a letter from a family member, and care packages or gifts from home are just some topics to discuss with your mess mates.  

We will help everyone in picking out and developing their first person impression. It is a great way to educate the public, and also helps to keep everyone in an 1860's mindset throughout a living history or reenactment.


All members are expected to know and perform drill at designated times called for during a living history or reenactment. New members will have the opportunity to work with an assigned corporal to work on the "School of the Soldier," and Guard Mount.    

We will help all new and existing members to become proficient in drill.  This includes the School of the Soldier, School of the Company, School of the Battalion, Guard Mount, and Bayonet Exercise. 

The Citizens Guard takes pride in our ability to drill, and strives continually to become more proficient at this required duty.   

We primarily consult the following three manuals for drill:

  1. D. W. Baxter's Volunteer's Manual
  2. United States Infantry Tactics
  3. Casey's Tactics

 We additionally consult: 

  1. George B. McClellan's Manual of Bayonet Exercise
  2. Dominic J. Dal Bello's Parade, Inspection and Basic Evolutions of the Infantry Battalion, 4th Edition.
  3. Dominic J. Dal Bello's Instructions for Guards & Pickets, 2nd Edition. 
  4. August V. Kautz's Customs of Service

Primary Citations 

Braun, Robert A.  "The Federal Canteen."  33rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Website.  (2000):   Online.  Internet.  17 February 2000.  Available: 

- - -.  "Low-Cost Improvements for your Uniform and Equipage."  33rd Wisconsin

Volunteer Infantry Website.  (2000):  Online.  Internet.  17 February 2000.  Available: 

Brewster, William.  "The Case for the Contract Variant Issue Shirt." The Company Wag.  Nov.  1994.  6-7. 

Dow, Charles C.  "Wartime Letters of Charles C. Dow, Company G, 2d Wisconsin."  The Second Wisconsin Infantry.  Ed. Alan D. Gaff, Dayton, OH: Morningside House, 1984.  130-152.   

Echoes From the Marches of the Famous Iron Brigade.  Gaithersburg: Ron R. Van Sickle Military Books, 1988. 

Gaff, Alan D.  Brave Men's Tears.  Dayton:  Morningside House, 1988. 

Harries, William H.  "In the Ranks at Antietam."  The Second Wisconsin Infantry.  Ed.  Alan D.

Gaff, Dayton, OH: Morningside House, 1984.  257-271.    

Hughes, Nicky.  "If everyone lit just one little candle*Lighting for Civil War Reenactors."  The Watchdog.  3.2 (1995): 4-5 

- - -.  "The Pick of the Litter." The Watchdog.  1.4 (1993): 7. 

Lord, Francis A.  Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia.  New York: Castle Books, 1965. 

Madaus, Howard Michael.  Appendix III "The Uniform of the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg."  In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg. By Lance J. Herdegen and William J.K. Beaudot.  Dayton:  Morningside House, 1990.  301-367. 

Osman, Stephen.  "The Federal Issue Shirt."  The Watchdog.  1.2 (1993): 4-5. 

Thorson, Michael E.  "Portraying the 2nd Wisconsin." 33rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry  Website.  (2001):  Online.  Internet.  26 March 2001.  Available: /33articles/portraying2nd.html. 

Walden, Geoff.  "Sling, Arms!,"  The Watchdog.  3.3 (1995) 6-7. 

Special Thanks and Origins.

Original Document: Authenticity Guide was written and updated by membership of the re-created Citizens Guard. It is approved in its entirety by the Company’s membership. 

Authenticity Committee members both past and present whom have assisted in the preparation of this document since its inception in April 2000 include Brad Argue, Scott Frank, Michael John, Tom Klas, David May, Rich Propp, Andy Seymour, Scott Sonntag, and Andy Voss.

All Rights Reserved. 

Special Thanks to Mr. Michael Thorson, Mr. Bill Brewster and Mr. Dave Gerow for their assistance with this project. 

Original document completed April 4, 2000

Revisions: March 27, 2001, August 4, 2004, December 3, 2004, January 2005, October 16, 2006, September 25, 2007, January 30th, 2010 and November 23rd, 2010.

TK 11/23/2010