Author Topic: Sholder Boards  (Read 8246 times)

The Arapaho Kid

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Sholder Boards
« on: December 01, 2004, 10:20:52 am »

This is a picture of me in my Civil War Cavalry Colonels uniform.  Note the sholder boards.  There seems to be some controversy about those.  Some say that Confederate officers didn't wear the boards and others say they did.  The way I understand it is...after the first year of the war, Confederate officers did away with them....except....the ones who had graduated from VMI.  I've been told that they kept the boards.  So could some you experts put some input on this?  Thanks

Offline Terry

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Re: Sholder Boards
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2004, 10:46:04 am »
I just dug through my books on Confederate Unirforms and could not find a single surviving example of a uniform with shoulder boards....that, of course, does not mean there were not any.  A good reenactor group would probably give you some crap over them but this is CAS so it really doesn't matter to most....besides, this would actually be post-war so your character would probably be one of those living off his past glory days....like many on both sides, so don't take that wrong......wear 'em if you like 'em.


Offline Major Matt Lewis

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Re: Sholder Boards
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2004, 10:50:12 am »
I don't know about the VMI thing, but if you are going for the authentic generally accepted CSA Cavalry look, I would ditch the shoulder boards and get some gold stars for the collar.  The gold stars are easy enough to find.

http://www.jamescountry.com/

http://www.coonriver.com/

http://www.19th-century-us-history.com/uniforms_indian-wars_us.htm

http://www.quartermastershop.com/index.htm
Major Matt Lewis
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The Arapaho Kid

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Re: Sholder Boards
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2004, 11:10:17 am »
Major Matt:  They are hard to see in that picture, but there are three gold stars on each side of the collar, but no wreaths around them like would be on a Generals uniform.  The way I understand the VMI thing is that when the order came down to remove the boards, the VMI graduates decided not to do that because of their pride in their school. I have seen a couple of old Civil War pictures showing Confederate Officers with the boards.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2004, 11:32:48 am by The Arapaho Kid »

Offline Major Matt Lewis

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Re: Sholder Boards
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2004, 12:08:53 pm »
Well,

If you have seen it documented, I would say that you are "golden."  I would also ask this question over on The Frontier Spot under the Grand Army o the Frontiers web board.  One of us may be a VMI graduate or know more than I do about it.  Are you a VMI graduate?  They had some fine officer's when I was in the Marines.
Major Matt Lewis
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The Arapaho Kid

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Re: Sholder Boards
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2004, 12:24:50 pm »
Major Matt:  No...I am not a VMI graduate.  I graduated from the "Army College of Hard Knocks" and retired as a Sergeant Major with 24 years total service (Regulars and Reserve).  I hit 60 and they booted me!  No respect for the "Senior Soldiers" there!  I'll take my question over to TFS and see what some of those guys say.  Thanks for your input here.

Offline St. George

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Re: Sholder Boards
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2004, 02:18:57 pm »
Confederate officers typically wore stars on their collars and quatrefoils on their sleeves - both featuring branch facings.

I'd never heard the one about VMI - though I doubt the veracity.

The Confederate Army made a distinct "break" from the Federal uniform - creating itself as its own seperate entity - with its own dress and traditions - though in most cases, their Regulations mirrored those of the Federal side.

Any serving Confederate officer would've honored that order and not defied their command structure...


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Offline Gen Lew Wallace

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Re: Sholder Boards
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2005, 08:23:53 am »
Well I think you look pretty spiffy either way... for a Reb.   :P
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Offline Grapeshot

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Re: Sholder Boards
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2005, 12:53:28 pm »
Hey, Y'all look cool.  All my references on the Confederate Army Uniforms indicate that Stars and gold lace quatrefoil  French knots on the sleeve were indicators of rank.  The shoulder boards were delegated to Union Army Officers, except in rare instances, where Union Artillery Officers wore either Russian Knots on their shoulders or the trefoil French lace knots on their sleeves.

The sothern Army developed their own uniforms while still classified as State Militia, whose uniform colors were normally grey.  Case in Point, the N.Y. 7th Infantry.  That's not to say that all militia Uniforms were Grey, some, like the Washington Blues, out of New Orleans stuck to Federal Blue.

Militia Uniforms were anything but Uniform.  Once you start looking at the various Northern Units you wind up with, Highlanders, Italian Garibaldi Guards, Hussars, Zouaves, etc.

Regardless, have fun.
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Offline Malachi Thorne

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Re: Sholder Boards
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2005, 08:07:38 pm »
Good Evening, All;

I have found four photographs, and a few paragraphs of references for Confederate shoulder-straps in Dr. Howard G. Lanham's Straps: the Evolution of United States Army Shoulder Straps (no ISBN; auto-published via Johnson Graphics, Westminster, MD; available for purchase via Freehold Publications, 215 Washington Heights; Westminster, MD 21157-5632)

On page 141 of this book, the following text:

Quote from: Dr. Howard G. Lanham
...At the beginning of the war the sourthern states processed a large number of uniformed militia units whose officers wore shoulder straps similar to the US Army.  Some southern states published regulations prescribing shoulder straps after the outbreak of hostilities in 1861.

There were some differences from the US pattern.  The state of Mississippi was similar except there were no branch of service colors and a crescent device was worn by general officers and colonels [citation: Sydney C. Kerksis, Plates and Buckles of the Amarican Military, 1795-1874; Stone Mountain Press, 1974; page 551] North Carolina was similar, except for the colors of the fields of general officers who had buff and infantry who had black.  [citation: Ibid, page 549] South Carolina used a silver crescent on the straps of general officers and a gold palmetto tree on the straps of field officers.  Company officers were similiar to the US pattern, but those of regimental officers were embroidered in silver and staff officers in gold.  [citation: Richard Warren, "Officers, South Carolina Volunteer Forces, 1861", Plate 575, Military Collector and Historian, XXXVII, Summer, 1985 :89)

...

Photographic evidence, showing officers of early Confederate forces wearing shoulder straps is plentiful.  This practice continued when these forces took the field, as illustrated by the well-known photograph of George Armstong Custer with the captured Confederate officers James B. Washington [citation: Francis A. Lord, Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia, Volume IV, West Columbia, S.C.; Lord Americana, 1984, page 138) In June 1861 the Confederate War Department issued orders establishing a system of grade insignia based on collar and sleeve insignia rather than shoulder straps.  It should be no surprise that this order was not completely complied with, as an admonition against the use of shoulder straps appeared in the Richmond Daily Dispatch of March 21, 1862.

On page 142 of this same volume, is a full-page photograph of a South Carolina Militia Colonel's Shoulder Strap, with a triple-border and gold palmetto.  Page 143 reproduces a CDV of 1st LT Elberts Jemison, First Texas Infantry, CSA, wearing  a double-breasted frock coat with sleeve braid and a pair of shoulder straps with a single bar at either end.  Page 144 reproduces a CDV of Captain Egbert A. Ross, 11th North Carolina Infantry, CSA, wearing a blouse adorned with shoulder straps similar to a US Army Captain.  Finally, page 145 reproduces a CDV of an unidentified 1st LT wearing a frock coat adorned with home-made shoulder straps similar to US Army straps of the same grade.

It is also well-known that Confederate Naval Officers wore shoulder straps, albiet with one, two, three, or four stars, denoting lieutenants, commanders, captains, and flag officers, respectively.

From the above evidence, it is clear that some Confederate officers wore shoulder straps, at least early in the war.  And, if it makes you happy, Arapaho Kid, I say go for it!

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Bvt. Captain Malachi Thorne

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Department of the Pacific

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