How to Get Started
What to Buy
Your Basic Uniform
Needed for Infantry
To Complete Your "Kit"
Care and Feeding of your Uniform
Military and Camp Life
Rations and How to Cook
US Oval Belt Plate:
Model 1851 black leather with leather keeper or Model 1856 with brass keeper.
Brass with lead backing, 1-7/8" wide.
Military issue black painted canvas with inner bag made of lighter weight canvas. Inside buttons should be bone. Strap should be shortened to allow carrying haversack at correct height (top of haversack should be about at elbow level.
Model 1858 smooth-side tin; although several cover colors are accurate, dark blue, brown or gray jean cloth, is recommended. Jute or cotton cord is correct for the stopper cord (no chain - chains came later in the War) and it must have the correct russet leather (oiled - not blackened) strap. Should be carried at same height as haversack.
Caution: there are many canteens on the market and some are absolute garbage; check with the Quartermaster before you buy. A good quality tin canteen will last for years if properly cared for. We recommend you do not buy a stainless steel canteen.
Tin Plate or canteen half:
Either military or civilian is fine, as long as the cup is tin and has a bottom that is not recessed. Adding a wire bail is a nice touch (add your own as opposed to buying it with). Carry the cup inside your haversack.
We suggest a good, high quality tin plate from a recommended supplier; the old pie plates just don't do it. Tin only - No stainless or aluminum.
Use correct period civilian style (bone or wood handles on knife and fork - 3 tined forks) or issue style (stamped out of sheet iron, four tined forks).
A boiler made from a used correct (modern tin can is wrong) tin vegetable can with wire attached for a bail was sometimes carried in lieu of a tin cup.
Fry pans (optional - limited):
They were carried but not by every soldier. A common practice was for a soldier to carry one to be shared by his comrades or the members of his mess. See separate page on fry pans.
To complete the "mess kit" a soldier will want to have several tins and pokes to carry rations, salt, sugar and other various items. If you choose to carry glass bottles, make sure they are of a period style and are closed with a cork stopper.
NOTE: "Muckets" are to be heavily discouraged. There is little documentation of their use and the veteran would not have carried both a mucket and a cup or boiler.
TO COMPLETE YOUR "KIT":
Poncho or Gum Blanket:
Some events may mandate a US Army issue blanket, so we recommend you have one. Color should be a dirty grayish (or mouse) brown with a dark brown stripe across each end. There was some color variation on blankets. Ends need to be unfinished and there should be a "US" embroidered in the middle in correct fashion. Some excellent repros of original blankets are now available. The group has recently decided on the Abraham Thomas blanket from Quartermaster Woolens. This blanket should be accepted anywhere. We know that states also issued blankets (some were red) and a soldier may have gotten one from home. As with all other equipment - talk to the Quartermaster before ordering.
Black rubberized cloth. This item can also be purchased in kit form, which can make a very acceptable item; look for very small brass eyelets. Jarnigan is currently a good source.
Military issue, natural color cotton duck. Make sure you have the correct (early war) half! It should have hand-sewn buttonholes and bone buttons. Hemlock member Eric Hector is now producing an excellent shelter half. No metal stakes (must use wood). A soldier would not have carried metal stakes.
Other Recommended Items
Federal issue double bag knapsack. Look for a QUALITY knapsack!
Specifically not allowed:
Pocket knife, housewife, candle, correct matches in period container, writing supplies, bible, cards, etc.
Hay bales (if hay is correct for an impression, open the bales and pile or spread the hay), lanterns, camp furniture (exception for officers) or other inappropriate impedimenta in an infantry campaign camp.
Before you order, talk with the Quartermaster or others in the group for guidance. There is a lot of junk and just plain incorrect items out there. Don't let yourself be ripped off. If you can afford the luxury of hand-sewn buttonholes, go for it. Consider having a seamstress convert your machine-made buttonholes to hand-sewn. It improves your impression and if you are serious it will save you money in the long run.
If you wish to carry items other than those listed here - be careful! Make sure the item you wish to carry is a period item and is something that has been documented to have been carried by a soldier. Remember, most of the fresh fish carried far too much gear. After the first or second serious march, that impedimenta was scattered along the march route. That would be a great impression but I doubt many of you will want to discard personal belongings. The best thing to do is ASK first!
The Hemlocks maintain a small stock of equipment that can be borrowed by new members who are not yet fully equipped. Contact the Quartermaster for more information.
Once again, we stress that in order to preserve authenticity and help ensure you will receive a quality product, ALL items must be purchased through, or with the approval of, the Quartermaster.
ITEMS NOT APPROVED PRIOR TO PURCHASE MAY NOT BE ALLOWED ON THE FIELD!!!
If you have any questions PLEASE contact: Doug Grout, Henry Wakefield or Eric Hector
(see member list for phone numbers, etc.)