The Typical Civil War Infantry Soldier’s Uniform
The Union infantry uniform was as varied as were the Union state's infantry units. That being said, the Union infantry soldier's uniform generally consisted of blue wool trousers, light shirt, flannel drawers, pullover shirt made of thick flannel, blue forage hat, a kepi cap, and heavy leather shoes, bootees and wool socks. The Union infantrymen were also issued other clothing and protective items such as a loose fitting dark blue flannel sack coat, a greatcoat, a heavy thick wool blanket and a gummed, or water proofed, blanket that served as a poncho as well as a tent floor.
The branches of the Union Army were identified by different colored stripes on the outer seam of the trousers; light blue stripes for infantry, green for mounted riflemen, red for artillery, crimson for medical and ordnance and yellow for cavalry. The frock coat was used to easily distinguish officer's ranks. Junior officers through the rank of captain wore single-breasted coats while majors up to and including general officers wore double-breasted coats.
The two army's uniforms were very similar except those worn by Union soldiers were blue and the Confederate uniforms were generally gray. The typical Confederate infantryman was issued a gray or yellow-brown shell jacket made of wool, gray, yellow-brown or blue wool pants, cotton shirt, wool vest, forage cap, kepi cap, leather shoes and wool socks and ankle high boots or bootees. Overcoats similar to those of the Union army were in short supply and not all soldiers received them with the initial issue so the Confederate soldier usually had some type of homemade coverlet and a blanket as well.
Confederate Army branches were designated by colored trouser stripes much like the Union uniform, with infantry being light blue. Rank was determined by the width of the colored stripes appropriate to the branch of service as well as buttons and insignias for the officers. Chevrons worn on their jackets sleeves determined non-commissioned officers rank.
Traveling merchants known as sutlers traveled with the armies regiments and sold clothing and personal items to the soldiers. They were regulated in what they could charge the soldiers who were often paid in script with which they could use for purchases. There are many organized reenactment units today that stage famous Civil War battles and living histories. Their members, or reenactors, depend on modern day sutlers, such as the online Civil-War-Costumes store, for authentic reproduction Union and Confederate uniforms, period correct civilian clothing, replica Civil War weapons, flags and more.