6th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia coat question

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Billy1977

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Hello everybody, I have a question about the overcoats worn by the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia when they went through Baltimore in 1861. Were they blue or were they gray? I ask because in Don Troiani's Regiments and Uniforms of the Civil War it says on the same page that "The Massachusetts volunteers are provided with the dark-gray overcoat..." and also that "The uniformed companies have black pants, with red and orange stripes down the sides, and dark blue infantry coats". Is the latter referring not to their overcoats but actually what we would call the 4-button fatigue blouse sack coat? If not I can't figure out why they would refer to them as both dark gray and dark blue.
 

rpkennedy

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Hello everybody, I have a question about the overcoats worn by the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia when they went through Baltimore in 1861. Were they blue or were they gray? I ask because in Don Troiani's Regiments and Uniforms of the Civil War it says on the same page that "The Massachusetts volunteers are provided with the dark-gray overcoat..." and also that "The uniformed companies have black pants, with red and orange stripes down the sides, and dark blue infantry coats". Is the latter referring not to their overcoats but actually what we would call the 4-button fatigue blouse sack coat? If not I can't figure out why they would refer to them as both dark gray and dark blue.
Their grey overcoats would be their cold weather gear that they would wear over their dark blue uniform jacket. That's how I read it anyways.

Ryan
 

Package4

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Hello everybody, I have a question about the overcoats worn by the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia when they went through Baltimore in 1861. Were they blue or were they gray? I ask because in Don Troiani's Regiments and Uniforms of the Civil War it says on the same page that "The Massachusetts volunteers are provided with the dark-gray overcoat..." and also that "The uniformed companies have black pants, with red and orange stripes down the sides, and dark blue infantry coats". Is the latter referring not to their overcoats but actually what we would call the 4-button fatigue blouse sack coat? If not I can't figure out why they would refer to them as both dark gray and dark blue.
They had nine different uniforms with only three of the companies conforming to the state regulations, shown by a photograph shortly before leaving the state. Up until 1851 there was no real uniform code for Mass, with each company choosing their own uniform. August of 1853 brought about General Order #5, all state troops would conform to the pattern 1851 army uniform regulations, with exception of branch color and state buttons. The state troops were slow to adopt, particularly those outside of Boston. Most did have the M1851 shako; the shako pictured below was on Pratt Street that day, worn by a member of Co. G 6th Mass. and picked up off the street that day.

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major bill

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This would be common practice in many state militias. The state wanted to have all the militia companies wear similar uniforms so the state could call up militia companies and not have to supply uniforms or have the militia companies try to get matching uniforms in a hurry when they were called up. Great plan but it did not always work too well.

The militia companies had to get militiamen to join that militia company. There were considerable cost involved. It was an encouragement to recruits to have a fancy uniform to impress the locals so there was a real incentive to have a fancy company or regimental uniform. This caused the units to push the regulations or read the uniform regulations in such a way as to allow them to wear what they wanted to wear. In the end most State Adjutant Generals had to either allow this or to dismiss units that did not follow the State uniform regulations. Unless the State have some financial leverage their was little the Adjutant General could do to force the unit to comply. Companies could always drop out of the State militia and form a independent company which usually allowed them to set thier own rules and select their own uniforms.
 

John Hartwell

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@Billy1977 :

Sixth Regiment, Mass. Vol. Militia:


"The regimental dress at this time was far from uniform. Each company was literally an independent one in apparel. Company A had changed its name to the National Greys, and its uniforms were being made, but they were unfinished, and the men left for Washington with blue frocks and black pantaloons, tall round caps, and white pompoms. Company B wore the United States regulation uniform; that is, dark blue frocks, and light blue trousers. Company C wore gray dress coats, caps, and pantaloons, and yellow trimmings. Company D, the same as C, with buff trimmings. Companies E and F were dressed like B, and Company G wore blue dress coats; Company H, gray throughout; Company I, caps, and dark blue frocks and red pants, in the French style. Company K wore gray, and Company L was dressed in blue.

"At the instance of General Butler, Governor Andrew provided all with excellent gray overcoats, so that quite an appearance of uniformity was preserved." (Minute Men of '61, p. 193)

The overcoats were handed out just as they were leaving Boston. Butler was ridiculed in the press for insisting on the overcoats for troops going to the "Sunny South." But, after a few cold April nights, the men were very glad to have them.
 
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