Author Topic: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?  (Read 6197 times)

Offline Bow View Haymaker

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Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« on: October 12, 2008, 12:06:27 am »
After filtering through all the memories of last weekend at the Grand Muster, I  have a few that stand out.
One is the Reverence of the flag raising and lowering and the Aw and respect I felt watching the big American flag fying above the 135 year old frontier fort.  Maybe because I have never had the honor to serve our country in uniform but it was truly one of the most moving sights I have ever seen.  And the flag detail of men in uniforms ranging from confederate and union through the frontier years up to the spanish american war really added to the moment. 
My only regret was that I was dressed as and represented a civilian of the era and could only take off my hat to the flag insteaad of offer  a full salute.

Another thing that stood out was that representing a civilian, for me seemed to take a tiny bit from the expierence of staying at the fort and shooting with the military personel.  ( I don't think civilians can win the Iron trooper,and I heard that hte divisoin award had to be changed because one of the potential winners didn't shoot in uniform)

So in a step to further honor the solders that along with the cowboys, farmers, and townsfolk, helped shape our western frontiers I have decided to give it a go at putting together some sort of mlitary uniform.

I want to keep it somwhat in keeping with the things I know, such as cutting grass (making hay).  farm life or pioner life,  and a bit of construction (corp of enginers) and retail (supply or qurtermaster) expierience. and most lately bulletts and shooting supplies (armeror?).

So I am asking those that know about the period and what was common at the time and those that met me at the muster for youe ideas or input in making a start at portraing a military person of the era. 

I did read a bit somwhere about somthing called the Pioneer corps.  It seems they were ussualy the first in an area and responsible for getting things ready for the greater body to arrive.  Sort of paving the  way.  I however did not see anything of a pioneer corps in use during the late 1800s but later during the early 1900's in the conflicts across the oceans.  And by other contries around the world.

Thank you in advance or any and all input.


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Offline Pitspitr

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2008, 06:47:17 am »
Bow View
Here's a quote about the Hayfield fight from the http://www.legendsofamerica.com/NA-IndianWarsBattles-2.html web site, "Hayfield Fight (1867) - Fought on August 1, 1867, three miles from Fort C.F. Smith, Montana, Territory, the battle pitted a determined stand of 31 soldiers and civilians against more than 700 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. Fortified behind a barrier of a low log corral, the combined soldier/civilian force withstood six hours of attacks before relief finally arrived to disperse the warriors. Known as the Hayfield Fight, the site is located about three miles from Fort C. F. Smith, Montana. The site is on private land, marked by a monument and plaque." Given your alias you might want to do more reading about that battle as well as the Wagon Box fight. It would be fairly easy to portray a soldier from either of those fights as they were uniformed in civil war equipment but had early trapdoors.

You also mentioned you're interested in being a pioneer. All major columns would send out pioneers to improve river crossings and such before the main part of the column arrived.  In his book about the Powder River Campaign of 1865, Lt. Springer tells of being assigned to the Pioneer company. By the way, the North brothers led the Pawnee Scouts on this campaign as well. Again the men on this campaign were clothed in Civil War uniforms.

Vendors of good CW period uniforms are easy to find.
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Offline Bow View Haymaker

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2008, 07:58:21 am »
Thjanks for the great nfo.

I knoew this was the place to ask. 
I think pioneer corps might be an interesting way to go.  Ijust need tolearn more about it.  an earlier internet nearch didn't yield much of it on the american frontier. 
time to hit google again. 
It looks like uniform options are pretty much open to anyting civil war era and after. 
Thaks again

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Offline St. George

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2008, 10:09:48 am »
Before you decide on anything - do the research into what you'll want to represent - it'll save you time as well as money, and will allow you to direct your search, so take a good look through the 'back pages' of 'The Barracks' - you'll see a number of good references available for purchase or from your Public Library's stacks or from an 'Inter-Library Loan'.

In the American Army, a  'Pioneer' was a WWI Infantryman with special skills that followed the attack and made needed repairs.

The term 'Pioneer' was primarily in reference to various European armies of the time - big, bearded men with axes who would build fortifications and create and clear obstacles, and was a catch-all term in common use by all militaries of the time, but as a separate Branch, it didn't exist, since any soldier who could swing an ax or handle a shovel could be detailed to the working party.

Since WWI - they'd be called 'Combat Engineers' - but back then, the term was just one of those European military terms in general use, since the American Army didn't have a 'corps' of them.

Your stated skill sets as a civilian would lend yourself to a Quartermaster supplier or Contract Teamster - with the Teamsters being active across the Frontier in all Campaigns - however - they would wear civilian clothing, for the most part, with some weapons being issued from available stores.

Then as now, the Army contracted with and employed civilians to supply those services and skills not normally available on the muster, and many of those men saw as much or more action as the soldiers they provided for.

This topic's come up before - so you should be able to find some good ideas and good recommendations here and also at 'The Historical Society' forum.

If I can be of assistance - send me a note.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!
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Offline Bow View Haymaker

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2008, 10:53:27 am »
Again I thank you.

Idid find a couple of references to pioneers in some civil war eampaings and one referenc under unifrom guidlines as totheuse of crossed axes of cloth of the sam ecolor as the niform worn on the arm. 
I'll keep researching all aspects and I am sure womthing willl come together.  thanks again for the help.
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Offline Pony Soldier

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2008, 09:42:50 pm »
Fall Creek carries Pioneer Chevrons (crossed axes).  Good luck with your research.  I've had fun looking into mine.

Offline US Scout

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2008, 07:25:20 am »
I did find a couple of references to pioneers in some civil war eampaings and one referenc under unifrom guidlines as totheuse of crossed axes of cloth of the sam ecolor as the niform worn on the arm. 


Somewhere I have one of these for Federals.  If you decide to pursue this route, let me know and you can have it.

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Offline St. George

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2008, 11:12:10 am »
There was no 'Pioneer Corps' - the insignia is a 'specialty mark' - denoting a soldier's additional skill.

As an example, the Signal Corps 'qualified' soldier wore two such marks - the 'un-qualified soldier' ( a man merely serving within the unit, but not fully trained), wore a single such mark.

Since the different elements of the Service follow along - this is reasonable to expect, and should the soldier achieve Corporal's rank - the specialty mark would be worn above the chevron.

During the Great War, a similar system was used, with the specialty mark acting as the insignia of rank for a 'First-Class Private'.

A regular, everyday Private wore slick sleeves, and if there was rank involved, the specialty mark went below the chevron.

With some soldiers holding specialty marks within a 'specialized' outfit - the waters get muddy pretty quickly, but - that's something that would come in the fullness of Time, and not the era you're interested in.

Good Luck!

Vaya,

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Offline Trailrider

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2008, 12:19:56 pm »
Howdy, BVH,
In the post-Civil War Army, many specialists, were hired by the Quartermaster Dept. These included scouts (including Buffalo Bill Cody, Luther "Yellowstone" Kelly, "Maj." Frank North, chief of the Pawnee scouts, his brother and second-in-command Luther North, Al Seiber, et al); interpreters (many of whom were Indians or half-breeds or French Canadians, or white men who had lived with the Indians); scouts hired to fight as a special ops group, i.e., Forsyth's Scouts under Army Major Geo. A. "Sandy" Forsyth and 1st Lt. Fred. H. Beecher, 3rd Inf, who died in the Beecher Island Battle; packers who packed and were in charge of pack animals; teamsters, who drove wagons for the Army, the latter often in the field with the troops; carpenters, bricklayers, and other artisans, mostly employed at the various posts, and others.

Many of these QM employees were veterans of one side or the other in the CW, and might have worn parts of old uniforms, such as kepis, trowsers or even sack coats.  Some might have worn buckskins. (Many officers and enlistedmen wore parts or all of old uniforms in the field so as to save their good uniforms for garrison life. Straw hats were often purchased from the suttler's store to protect the wearer from the sun.)

Arms might be issued to the employee from whatever was on hand at their post where they were hired.  In the case of one teamster I've researched, he was apparently issued one of five Sharps Carbines, cal. .50-70, from Co. G, 3rd Cav, at Sidney Barracks, NE, in 1875-76.  These were kept by the company after they were issued .45-70 Trapdoor Springfield Carbines in 1874.
The men of Forsyth's Scouts in 1868 were issued Colt's M1860 cap and ball revolvers and Spencer Carbines (or maybe rifles).  Other employees might have owned their own guns, such as Colt's Single Actions or Frontier Six Shooters (after 1878) and repeating rifles.  Holsters and belts could range from old saber belts and holsters to civilian type leather.

As you can see, you have a wide choice of personnas and dress. Hope this helps.  Welcome to the GAF!
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Offline Bow View Haymaker

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2008, 01:33:59 pm »
Again,

Thanks for the help
Apon more reading , I did find out that the pioneer designation was like you said a specialty and not a seperate group like signal or artilery.   I might still like to add the crossed axes to whatever uniform I end up with.

While the jobs I am familier with would have probably been prefoemed by civilians I do want to have some type of uniform to get in on htat part of the GAF as well.
maybe some of what I have isn't too far off from one a irregualr or retired working as civilian now. 

Her are a few pics from the muster and others, but none of them really show very good.

Bow View Haymaker

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Offline Captain Barrett

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2008, 06:20:27 pm »
Bow View,

Head to the GAF web site. Click on the History link in the top menu, then look for and click on my article, "Authentic Attire and the 'Non-Hollywood' Military Alias," from the April 2003 $A$$ Chronicle. Fell free to email me any questions you may have...
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David P. Barrett
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Offline Guns Garrett

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2008, 10:30:21 pm »
Haymaker,
It was great to meet you at the Muster, and I look forward to shooting with you again next year.
Just off the top of my head, but mostly to bring up some ideas that could be greatly illuminated by our more learned colleagues:

I am aware that certain regular Army personnel having special skills were designated as "artificers" (sp?) These included men skilled as carpenters, blacksmiths and foundry workers, mechanics, machinists, wainwrights (wagon makers) and masons, even electricians, later on.  The Army did not always rely on "civilian contractors" to maintain equipment , although I would think it more expedient to do so on the Frontier.  These specialists would probably have been posted at the larger, headquarters-type forts, depots or arsenals, like St. Louis, or The Presidio, possibly Ft Leavenworth, Ft Sill, or Ft. Riley.  I would think that any frontier post would have at least a Saddler and Blacksmith assigned.  The Saddler would maintain or make all leather equipment, including uniform belts and holsters.  The Blacksmith would of course shoe horses, as well as some mechancal repairs (wagons, door hinges, buckles, etc.) even minor small arms repairs (springs, hammers, firing pins).  Often worn or damaged equipment, such as artillery pieces, or other mechanical equipment was expensive to replace, and had to be repaired or refurbished to continue to be used.  Remember, after the Civil War, Congress severely cut spending for the Army and other services - C.W. uniforms (and even food!) were still being issued for years afterward.  Many things had to be cobbled along until they were completely worn out.

The Corps of Engineers were the builders of forts, bridges, gun emplacements, trenches, levees and other major construction.  They also performed surveying and the laying out of roads, and included Sappers and Miners.  Robert E. Lee designed and built several forts on the East Coast before the War.  The US Military Academy at West Point is, in fact, a School of Engineering, and most of the top graduating officers went into the Engineers.  I never hear much, if any, about enlisted men in the Corps of Engineers, though.  I don't know if the enlisted had any sort of distinctive insignia or uniform trim, other than the "castle" cap badge.  Most enlisted engineering involved the use of a shovel anyway, so who needs a specialist?

Ordnance personnel had uniforms trimmed in a dark red, almost maroon material (I think it was termed "Crimson", as apposed to the Artillery "Scarlet").  They did major maintenance on artillery and ammunition, as well as the carriages and caissons.  I believe they weren't assigned any lower than Division level, so they probably would have been posted at places like arsenals and depots, but occasionally, I could understand them being sent "to the field", in certain circumstances.  They would have included wheel- and wainwrights, mechanics, machinists, and foundry workers (patternmakers and molders)

Each of these mentioned above had at least a "distinguishing mark" of some kind:  I believe "artificers" had crossed hammers.  A soldier fully kitted out in regulation gear would be instantly recognizable for what he was. Of course, a "field uniform" would have consisted of a mix of various issues of uniforms as well as civilian attire thrown in as needed.  As stated above, the supply system was woefully understaffed and underbudgeted, so the soldiers out on the Frontier had to do with was on hand, for the most part.

Just my 2 cents, I hope someone more knowledgeable can straighten me out, if I'm off in left field on this.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 10:43:27 pm by Guns Garrett »
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Offline Pitspitr

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Offline Bow View Haymaker

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2008, 06:51:21 am »
guys ,
thnaks again for the wealth of information youve given me. 
I've learned more than I bargined for and  i'ts beeen much more interesting reading hear thatn in some book.
 
Now does anyone know of a source for an inexpencive, (under $100) lightweiight (non=heatstrock inducing) enlistd fatige blouse or what we call today a coat.  Or somthing that looks cloce enought or can be modified?
I know there are some really great reproductions out thier that are very detailed and corect but rigth now I have to do everything "on the cheap".
Bow View Haymaker

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Offline Pitspitr

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« Last Edit: October 14, 2008, 09:39:43 am by Pitspitr »
I remain, Your Ob'd Servant,
Jerry M. "Pitspitr" Davenport
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Grand Army of the Frontier
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Offline US Scout

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2008, 01:44:34 pm »
If you stick with Civil War era clothing, which was worn well into the 1870s, you can find relatively inexpensive uniforms.

Try these out:

Fall Creek Sutler: http://fcsutler.com/

Regimental Quartermaster: http://www.regtqm.com

The Blockade Runner: http://www.blockaderunner.com/

Coon Creek: http://www.cooncreekoldwest.com/

Coon River: http://www.coonriver.com/

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Offline Curley Cole

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2008, 06:18:11 pm »




Old Top and Cole Harbour are working on setting up a "military posse" out here in SoCal, so I decided to be their "trusty scout"

here is my current representation, along with a few soldiers we met along the way....

curley Cole
« Last Edit: October 17, 2008, 06:19:46 pm by Curley Cole »
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Offline Bow View Haymaker

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2008, 08:29:20 am »
Thanks again for the great info guys,

I found a couple more Pics of what I have now.

Bow View Haymaker

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Offline Texas Lawdog

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2008, 11:22:22 am »
I've been looking for one of those pull over shirts. Where did you get yours?
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Offline Bow View Haymaker

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2008, 11:25:27 am »
THE FORT
 

Old West Shop at the Fort in Lincoln is where I found mine.  I've seen them other places though I just can't remember where.
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Offline Texas Lawdog

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Re: Where to start in building a military uniform and/or persona?
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2008, 11:49:54 am »
I wear a 5X, do they have any that big?
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