Original Civil War, Id’d Infantry Greatcoat
Original Civil War, Id’d Infantry Greatcoat – During the Civil War, Union soldiers were issued greatcoats to be worn over their uniforms during the winter months. The dismounted or Infantry version of this iconic coat was single breasted and exhibited a standing collar and an elbow length cape. The mounted version, for use by the Cavalry and Artillery, was double breasted and exhibited a stand and fall collar, as well as cuff length cape. Per regulation, all Union issue greatcoats were constructed of a heavy weight, kersey weave, sky blue wool, issued with a variety of linings – some had a heavy cotton drill body lining that extended below the waist, while other examples exhibited a heavy, rough weave, dark blue, kersey wool lining (as this example does), and others had a near cotton burlap-like lining. Also, per regulation, which this coat adheres to completely, are down-turn sleeve cuffs, as well as a split back seam with the two piece back belt. The back belt has two buttonholes, with its original, general service Eagle button for waist adjustment. The bottom of the skirt, as per original issue overcoats, is not hemmed, but raw. The sleeve linings, per regulation, as well, were made of light cotton. Inside the right sleeve lining, near the armpit area, are the U.S. Government inspector’s stamping, and what appears to be an 1864 date. All buttonholes on this coat are of the hand-whipped type.
This coat is in excellent condition, retaining all of its original, general service Eagle buttons. At some point in its life, the coat was dyed a darker blue; explanations for this are as follows: a shortage of sky blue wool at the onset of the war (see – Michael McAfee’s article in the Winter, 2017 issue of “Military Images Magazine” – p. 51), post-Civil War issue during the 1866 to 1872, Indian War era or use during the filming of the John Wayne movie, “The Horse Soldiers.”
In addition to the fine, overall condition of this greatcoat, is the name of the soldier originally issued the coat, inked on a small piece of white, ribbed cotton in the inner, back neck area. Inked is the name: “T.E. Leavitt”. Thomas E. Leavit enlisted on 2/5/1864 as a Private, and mustered, on 1/1/1865, into “E” Co 30th Maine Infantry. He was mustered out on 8/20/1865 at Savannah, GA. Leavitt’s short term of service, as well as this posting to Savannah, may explain the lack of weather damage; there appear to be some areas of light soiling from the era of original use, but there are virtually no moth damage. The integrity and overall condition of the wool, lining and coat body, as well as the cotton sleeve linings is superior.
These coats evoke the Civil War era, perhaps as no other enlisted man’s uniform can. They are essential elements in a collection of Union soldiers’ equipage.
Thomas E. Leavitt
|Residence Biddeford ME; 15 years old; Enlisted on 2/5/1864 as a Private; On 1/1/1865 he mustered into “E” Co. ME 30th Infantry; he was Mustered Out on 8/20/1865 at Savannah, GA.|
Intra Regimental Company Transfers: * 1/1/1865 from company K to company E
|Thirtieth Infantry.-Cols., Francis Fessenden, Thomas H. Hubbard, Royal E. Whitman; Lieut.-Cols., Thomas H. Hubbard, Royal E. Whitman, George W. Randall; Majs., Royal E. Whitman, George W. Randall, Horace C. Haskell. Like many of theregiments formed in the latter years of the war, the 30th hada large number of experienced soldiers among its officers and men, though it also had some who were attracted by the large bounties offered and some who were old and disabled. The regiment was mustered in at Augusta from Dec. 12, 1863, to Jan. 8, 1864, to serve for three years. On Jan. 8, 1865, it was joined by three companies made up from the enlisted men of the 13th Me., whose term of service had not expired at the date of the muster out of that regiment, and were assigned to this organization on Nov. 18, 1864. The entire regiment was mustered out on Aug. 20, 1865, at Savannah, Ga. On Feb. 7, 1864, the 30th embarked at Portland on the steamer Merrimac for New Orleans, La., arriving there on the 16th. It participated in the Red River campaign as a part of the 3d brigade 1st division, 19th corps, and took an honorable part in the battles of Sabine cross-roads and Pleasant Hill on April 8 and 9, respectively. It lost in the two engagements 11 killed, 66 wounded and 71 missing, and during the retreat of the Union forces to the Mississippi river, it took the most prominent part in the dislodgment of the enemy at Cane river crossing, which was perhaps the most gallant action of the disastrous campaign. Its loss here was 2 officers and 10 men killed, 2 officers and 67 men wounded, and 7 men missing. Soon after the close of this campaign, the regiment was sent north to Virginia. In August and the early part of September it moved with the Army of the Shenandoah, but did not share in the battles and victories of Gen. Sheridan in September and October, as the brigade was detached from its division until Oct. 26. On Nov. 9, 1864, it took up a position between Kernstown and Newton and on Dec. 30 went into winter quarters at Stephenson’s depot, 4 miles north of Winchester, but a few days later moved to Winchester. After the recruits from the 13th Me. joined the regiment at Winchester it was formed into seven companies and retained its field and staff officers without change. The new companies from the 13th were lettered B, H and K in the new organization. The 30th remained at Winchester until April 1O, 1865, when it went to Washington, where it participated in the grand review of the Army of the Potomac on May 23, and on June 2 was transferred to the 2nd brigade, 1st division, 19th corps, which it accompanied to Savannah, Ga., the place of their muster out. On Aug. 24 it arrived in Portland, where the men were finally paid and discharged.|