Uniforms of the Civil War

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The uniforms of the Civil War helped distinguish between the Union soldiers of the North, and the Confederate soldiers from the south. But early in the war, uniforms were provided by states, towns and wealthy individuals. This resulted in a confusing variety of styles and colors on both sides. Over time, blue became the official color for the North and gray for the Confederate uniforms.

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Union Uniforms

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Union Soldier
Portrait of Private Ira Fish, 150th New York Infantry, U.S.A.
(Source: Library of Congress)

In the Union army, early in the war, soldiers wore a variety of uniforms. Many groups wore uniforms of their native country. For example, soldiers of Scotish decent often wore kilts. As the war went on, a standard uniform design emerged.

Infantry officers and enlisted men wore dark blue frock coats hanging to mid thigh. High ranking officers including majors, lieutenant colonels, colonels, and generals wore double-breasted coats. Lower ranking soldiers wore single breasted frock coats.

Union soldier uniform
Union Uniform
The Union uniforms used buttons and other insignia for identification of rank.


Confederate Uniforms

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Confederate soldier
Portrait of a Confederate Soldier
taken between 1860 and 1865
(Source: Library of Congress)

Confederate uniforms looked quite similar to the Union uniforms. Like the Union army early in the war, there were a wide variety of designs. Several southern volunteer units even wore dark blue uniforms that could be mistaken for the enemy on the battlefield.

By 1863, the confederate army began to use a common uniform design. All infantry officers and enlisted men would wear a gray uniform that included a frock coat hanging to mid thigh.


Confederate soldier uniform
Confederate Uniform
As with the Union uniforms, the Confederate uniform used buttons and other insignia for identification of rank.


Books on the Civil War

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  Books on the Civil War


Links to other sites on the Civil War

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For a daily history lesson see AccentHistory.net http://www.accenthistory.net
American Civil War http://www.civilwar.com/
Civil War http://www.civil-war.net/
The Civil War on PBS http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/

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