Civil War Union 1st Lieutenant of the Artillery Shell Jacket and Regulation Pants
Civil War Union 1st Lieutenant of the Artillery Shell Jacket and Regulation Pants – We have only had one other Union officer’s shell jacket, as they are not often encountered. This jacket is accompanied by a rare pair of 1862 regulation, officer’s, sky blue trousers, retaining their original, red piping, artillery branch of service, down the exterior side of each pant leg. When we obtained this shell jacket and pants, a Federal, Civil War, 1st Lieutenant of the artillery, officer’s frock coat, sash, and GAR slouch hat, accompanied the jacket and pants; all items were contained in an old, cardboard box, that had been shipped to the wife of an academician at an Albany, NY prep school. The stamps on the box indicated that the box been shipped in the 1930s; the box and contents had been mailed from Cincinnati, Ohio. In pencil, written during the 1930s, on the top of the box, was a brief descriptor of the box’s contents: “Civil War Uniforms”. We presume that both coats, the pants, sash and GAR slouch hat were all the war time possessions of one, Union artillery officer. Unfortunately, we have, to date, been unable to determine the identity of the officer.
The jacket remains in superior condition, with no visible insect damage whatsoever. The front of the jacket has twelve, Eagle A, coat size buttons; the cuffs each have three, Eagle A, cuff size buttons. The Civil War period, officer’s rank straps are representative of a 1st Lt. in the artillery and are original to the jacket; they remain in excellent condition. The coat proper is constructed of a fine, indigo-dyed wool and retains great, original color. The collar is high and is unlined; on the interior is a hand-attached, cloth coat hanging band. The interior of the jacket is lined in a quilted, rough, greenish-beige cotton; it is in equally excellent condition. The sleeve linings are made of a lightly striped (all stripes are equal in width), linen or high grade, off-white cotton. The elbows are the typical, war period, “balloon” style.
Perhaps markedly rarer than the above enumerated officer’s shell jacket, are the pants that accompanied the jacket. This pair is representative of the onset of the 1862 regulations – at the onset of the war, the U.S. Army uniform regulations for officers’ pants, dictated that they be constructed of a dark blue wool, with a colored welt, indicative of the officer’s branch of service, along each leg. In 1862, the army’s regulations changed regarding officer pants – the pants now were to be constructed of a sky-blue wool, still retaining the branch of service. colored welt down the outside of each leg. This pair of sky blue, kersey weave wool pants are c.1862 examples of early war, officer’s pants. Unlike the fine, English, broadcloth, dark blue wool, from 1861, these pants are almost comparable to enlisted man’s pants, as the wool is of less quality and constructed in a rough, Kersey, diagonal weave. The pants are unlined, with the exception of the waist area and are predominantly constructed by hand work; all buttonholes are hand whipped. The red branch of service welt is red cording, indicative that the officer was in the artillery. There are two slash pockets and one small watch pocket. The size adjuster belt buckle, in the back of the pants, is made of a tinned, thin iron; the various buttons, fly and suspender, are the typical, Civil War period, thin, tin variety. The pants are in overall very good condition, with only a couple of small, insect-induced holes; there are two period repairs in the bottom of the pants’ seat. As mentioned, these pants accompanied the frock coat, officer’s shell jacket, sash and belt, in the 1930s cardboard box described above. We presume that the shell jacket and pants, as well as the other items, were all the possessions of one, Civil War, Union artillery officer.