The 4th U.S. Infantry were part of “The Old Army”, the original 10 Regiments that formed the standing U.S. army prior to the Civil War. As such, their uniform and equipment reflected the pre-war issuances in effect when the war started. As the war drew on, pieces of clothing and equipment were replaced as items were lost or worn out.
Acquiring a new frock coat or showing off your new Hardee hat is part of the joys of re-enacting but like many hobbies buying all the uniform and kit that’s required can get expensive, especially if buying new. Therefore for your first events we will lend you all the kit you need then as time goes on you can accumulate your kit at your own pace as your budget allows. This also gives you the chance to get advice on avoiding costly mistakes, how to get the most from your budget, and to keep an eye out for people selling items second hand.
Basic Kit (Fatigues And Accoutrements)
This is the basic uniform and equipment of a Union soldier and is most likely what you’ll be loaned when starting out.
*There are typically two styles of forage cap: Standard and McDowell with the McDowell having a smaller, rounder brim. Either style is acceptable while some people wear a keppi instead.
This uniform is what the 4th wears for more formal occasions, particularly when acting as the Colour Guard, and helps us stand out from other Union regiments.
The standard weapon of the Union soldier was the rifled musket and in particular the 1861 Springfield however the North also bought the British Enfield 1858 en masse. Whichever you wish to buy it must be a 3 band variant for safety reasons. When you first join we will lend you a non-firing gun to take part in battles and drill with. In order to use a live firing gun (one that actually uses gunpowder) you will need to obtain the appropriate licenses from your local police force.
In addition to the musket you will also need a bayonet but again we can loan you one until you can get your own. Bayonets are kept in a scabbard and generally come paired with the musket as they vary in size during manufacturing and between weapon designs (e.g. Springfield vs Enfield).
While acting as the Colour Guard we can also wear a pistol for parade but since we only carry one weapon onto the battlefield this tends to be the preserve of officers and the flag bearer. As such it is a completely optional purchase.
There are two types of camping: historical and modern. Historical camping is where you sleep in either a canvas A-Frame tent in the company street or, for the more adventurous, a canvas shelter half in the woods. The advantage of this kind of camping is you get to stay in the main camp with your equipment (and friends) nearby. It also helps keep you in character for re-enacting. The downside is you need to keep anything modern hidden or, ideally, not used it at all.
On the other hand if you’d rather live with all the advances in outdoor living made since 1865, or even want to bring a caravan, there is usually an area for modern camping as well. The main disadvantage to this is that it’s often a long way away from the living history camp, particularly at the bigger multi-period event.
Other Uniform And Equipment
Here are some other pieces of uniform and equipment people purchase:
- Union Greatcoat
- Period underpants (seriously…)
- Musical instruments