1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

Butternut uniforms

Discussion in 'Civil War Uniforms & Relics' started by LT.J.H.McDaniel, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. LT.J.H.McDaniel

    LT.J.H.McDaniel Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Messages:
    2,364
    Location:
    Covington,Tennessee
    How often in the war was butternut uniforms used? How were they mainly used? Mixed with greys, or full butternut uniforms? Thank you.
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. wilber6150

    wilber6150 Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    Messages:
    19,319
    Location:
    deep in the Mohawk Valley of Central New York
    I had always heard that it was the grey uniforms that changed to butternut as they were exposed to the elements...
     
  4. LT.J.H.McDaniel

    LT.J.H.McDaniel Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Messages:
    2,364
    Location:
    Covington,Tennessee
    I always thought that butternut was used after the south ran out of dye. They boiled wallnuts and used the water as dye and thats were butternut came from.. But i dont know.. Could be..
     
    Dugger and Robtweb1 like this.
  5. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    33,665
    Location:
    Smack dab in the heart of Texas
    Here's an old thread with some links that might be useful. If your head doesn't spin after reading this, I'll be impressed :wink:

    http://civilwartalk.com/forums/showthread.php?34075-Brown-vs-Butternut&highlight=butternut+uniform

    And this one seems to have some of what you're looking for:

    http://civilwartalk.com/forums/show...rate-uniform-help&highlight=butternut+uniform

    Might use that search function to check out others; I just looked for "butternut uniform". Good luck!
     
  6. LT.J.H.McDaniel

    LT.J.H.McDaniel Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Messages:
    2,364
    Location:
    Covington,Tennessee
    After reading thru the threads, im a little confused.. It seems to be a mixture of 2 diffrent answers..
     
  7. TerryB

    TerryB Major

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,217
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    Sam Watkins wrote that in 1863 his company made great sport of a newbie who arrived in camp with a govt issue butternut "suit," as he called it. By that time, they were using a butternut dye because of impurities in the gray dye that made the cloth come out butternut. I have an account of a Nashville boy in Roddey's cavalry who captured an overcoat from a dead federal trooper on an island in the Tennessee River during a skirmish. He said he dyed it a shade of butternut and wore it for the rest of the war.
     
  8. Bob Owen

    Bob Owen Captain Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Messages:
    6,029
    Location:
    Middle Tennessee
    I have Union canteens that were issued with the blue cloth covering, but after time have turned to a near butternut color. I expect due to exposure to the sun. I cannot say they may have been recovered as I believe that a Confederate capturer of the canteen would bother recovering it.
     
  9. Dave Hull

    Dave Hull Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Messages:
    1,767
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    I would think that if black walnuts were used for the dye, it would be the pulpy green outer coating and not the shell itself which was used as the dye. Next time you are out in the woods in late summer, pick up a freshly fallen black walnut, still in its green pulp, give it a squeeze and let the juices run down your arm. The skin will be black/brown for months, no matter how much scrubbing you do.

    My brother and used to use them as ammunition, since there was no way you could claim "you missed me" with a big, juicy black stain on your face.
     
  10. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    34,925
    Location:
    Near Kankakee
    The Confederacy never could supply grey uniforms for everyone. The Confederate reenactor could wear most anything, because that is what they wore.

    I have a familiarity with black walnuts. One of which has to to do with putting them into frozen ruts and spinning tires on them.

    Butternuts were a different kind of walnut.
     
    Dugger likes this.
  11. bama46

    bama46 Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,368
    Location:
    Alabamian, living behind enemy lines in Illinois
    you are correct, sir! Some of the grey dyes did exactly that.
     
  12. rhp6033

    rhp6033 Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Messages:
    1,874
    Location:
    Everett, Washington
    A small point I learned years ago when I was first learning to paint in oils. There is no such thing as a perfect "gray". It takes on either a brownish tint, or a blueish tint - you have to pick one direction or the other. Over time, the brown or blue pigment tends to come out more.

    My understanding is that in the western theatre, including the AoT, few had anything resembling a real uniform. They wore what they brought with them from home, or picked up along the way. Any attempt at uniformity was mostly dying it with whatever was available, resulting in a more generic "brown" material. Exposure to the elements over the months and years added to the effect.

    But on it's way to Chickamauga, Hood's Texans picked up new uniforms at Richmond. This caused some confusion on the battlefield, as one Union unit didn't fire on them until it was too late. The union troops in the Army of the Cumberland were accostomed to seeing all manner of dress and accouterments on Confederate troops, but seeing the smartly-turned out troops complete with uniform cartridge-boxes and haversacks gave them pause, they thought that they MUST be Union troops.
     
  13. bama46

    bama46 Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,368
    Location:
    Alabamian, living behind enemy lines in Illinois
    My afinity with black walnutws is shelling them and eating them raw or making pies .. think pecan on steroids... verry good!

    the term "butternut" refers to the color not the nut used to dye the cloth, I blieve
     
  14. dvrmte

    dvrmte Major

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    Messages:
    9,944
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I used walnut husk dye to decorate my buckskin arrow quiver. The color was a medium brown. I guess a weaker solution would result in a yellowish brown color.

    I soak the husks in water for a few days to get the stain or dye. I stained a gunstock with it also but I used other ingredients that made it almost black.
     
  15. 101combatvet

    101combatvet 1st Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    Messages:
    4,865
    Location:
    a happy farm in Maryland or a friendly Co-Op in NY
  16. RustyReb

    RustyReb Cadet

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2011
    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Arizona
    In one of the history books dedicated to Montgomery County, Illinois, it mentions that those with southern sympathies wore "butternut badges" to identify each other in 1864 during the time of the "Clingman Raids." Seems that, at least at that time, butternut was common.
     
  17. LT.J.H.McDaniel

    LT.J.H.McDaniel Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Messages:
    2,364
    Location:
    Covington,Tennessee
    Any idea what the badges looked like? Just out of curiosity...
     
  18. bama46

    bama46 Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,368
    Location:
    Alabamian, living behind enemy lines in Illinois
    Since I used to live in Montgomery county, Illinois, I would welcome seeing anything you can supply online...

    Ed
     
  19. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Messages:
    4,440
    Location:
    Livingston Tn
  20. Davidkmendel

    Davidkmendel Private

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    Messages:
    227
    Location:
    Hobart Tasmania
    I noticed in the film "Gods and Generals" some of the Confederate troops were shown wearing what appeared to be uniforms the same as those worn in the War of Independence. If this was so can someone explain why?
     
  21. bama46

    bama46 Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,368
    Location:
    Alabamian, living behind enemy lines in Illinois
    Thank you. An interesting account with a large number of readily identifiable names, including, of course Governor Yates. The good governor was the very first graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville (oldest college in IL).
    I lived in the NW corner of the county in it's panhandle... but have spent considerable time in all the towns mentioned. Montgomery county remains to this day a predominately democratic county
     

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)