Uniforms "Gray Zouave" uniforms worn by the Detroit Light Guard?

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
16,307
I was working on getting an idea what the "Gray Zouave" uniforms worn by the Detroit Light Guard were. The Detroit Light Guard was one of the companies guarding the Detroit/Canadian border during the Civil War. I was wondering if anyone one had more to add?

After hosting the Chicago United States Zouave Cadets in 1860, the Detroit Light Guard was so impress with the visitor’s Zouave uniforms that they adopted Zouave fatigue uniforms of their own. Their new fatigue dress consisted of gray roundabout jackets [possibly the same gray shell jackets as worn before], gray Zouave trousers and gray Sardinian caps. It is not clear what was meant by Sardinian caps and the term could indicate long tailed caps or the term could indicate a fez style cap. The Detroit Daily Tribune confirmed the new fatigue uniforms on August 30 1860 when it reported that the Detroit Light Guards now have a very pretty light infantry cap and grey Zouave pants in addition to their usual garb. A jaunty Zouave cap was also used as winter head wear in 1860.[ii] It is possible that the reported light infantry cap and jaunty Zouave caps were terms for the same style of kepi.
The Detroit Daily Tribune of 1860 called the fatigue trousers, gray Zouave pants and the caps Light Infantry caps (what made it a Light Infantry Cap?).[iii]


It is possible that the gray roundabout jackets referred to in this passage are the same gray fatigue jackets
that they had been wearing for some time.

[ii] “The Detroit Light Guard” Detroit Daily Advertiser, February 13 1860, p. 1, col. 2.
[iii] “Jackson Encampment, Camp Jackson Wednesday Aug. 29, signed M”, Detroit Daily Tribune, August 30 1860, p. 1, col. 4.
 
Last edited:

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
16,307
I did this quick uniform drawing from a photo of the Detroit Light Guard and using the above information as a guide. I am no artist, but could maybe do a bit better drawing. Part of my problem is the cap. In the photo it appears too stiff to be a forage cap and to short to be another styles of cap. Could a forage cap be stiffened to allow a pompom to be worn?
dlg 8.jpg
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
16,307
This is a 1850s music sheet and the uniform on the left is their fatigue uniform before they adopted their Zouave uniform. I wonder if they retained their old fatigue caps and wore them instead of the new gray Sardinian caps. It is also possible that I misidentified the color of the roundabouts they are wearing in the photograph and they were dark gray, but they sure look to be dark blue in the photograph.

DSC03116 Detroit Light Guards 1859.jpeg
 

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
16,307
This is from the book A distant Thunder 'Michigan in the Civil War' by Richard Bak. The image in the book is samll and does not enlarge well.
dlg.jpg


I have seen a much better copy of this image at a museum with the reproduction of the image about three fee tall. I believe the jacket is dark blue, but dark gray is not impossible. To me the cap looks too wide at the top and too squarish to be a normal forage cap, still i am starting to go with his cap being a forage cap and I am not sure if this is the cap the newspapers are calling a Light Infantry Cap or what the newspapers are calling a jaunty Zouave cap, or what the newspaper called a Sardinian cap.
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
16,307
What about the bearskins? this is how a major in the 51st Michigan Uniformed Militia Regiment described the bearskins of the Detroit Light Guard; the “Detroit Light Guard in elegant uniforms except the monstrous cap, which is some twenty-four feet - or rather inches high, and as uncouth in appearance, as would be a quarter of a barrel of beer (minus the beer) upon their craniums.” The bearskins do appear to be rather large in period photographs.
 

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
16,307
Thanks for sharing this awesome story and photos. Also you did a excellent job on your drawings!
The drawing is to put my view of the uniform down and not as art work. I find this a good way to think about what a uniform looks.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
9
I was working on getting an idea what the "Gray Zouave" uniforms worn by the Detroit Light Guard were. The Detroit Light Guard was one of the companies guarding the Detroit/Canadian border during the Civil War. I was wondering if anyone one had more to add?

After hosting the Chicago United States Zouave Cadets in 1860, the Detroit Light Guard was so impress with the visitor’s Zouave uniforms that they adopted Zouave fatigue uniforms of their own. Their new fatigue dress consisted of gray roundabout jackets [possibly the same gray shell jackets as worn before], gray Zouave trousers and gray Sardinian caps. It is not clear what was meant by Sardinian caps and the term could indicate long tailed caps or the term could indicate a fez style cap. The Detroit Daily Tribune confirmed the new fatigue uniforms on August 30 1860 when it reported that the Detroit Light Guards now have a very pretty light infantry cap and grey Zouave pants in addition to their usual garb. A jaunty Zouave cap was also used as winter head wear in 1860.[ii] It is possible that the reported light infantry cap and jaunty Zouave caps were terms for the same style of kepi.
The Detroit Daily Tribune of 1860 called the fatigue trousers, gray Zouave pants and the caps Light Infantry caps (what made it a Light Infantry Cap?).[iii]


It is possible that the gray roundabout jackets referred to in this passage are the same gray fatigue jackets
that they had been wearing for some time.

[ii] “The Detroit Light Guard” Detroit Daily Advertiser, February 13 1860, p. 1, col. 2.
[iii] “Jackson Encampment, Camp Jackson Wednesday Aug. 29, signed M”, Detroit Daily Tribune, August 30 1860, p. 1, col. 4.
If you are looking for someone to make this uniform our parts of it for you, check with Lynn at Timeless Stitches: www.tstitches.com I just got my 114th Pennsylvania Zouave Uniform yesterday.
 

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
16,307
If you are looking for someone to make this uniform our parts of it for you, check with Lynn at Timeless Stitches: www.tstitches.com I just got my 114th Pennsylvania Zouave Uniform yesterday.
My hope is to gather enough information about the uniforms of the Detroit Light Guard of th Civil War era, to do a uniform plate for the Company of Military Historians. Have enough information to do dress uniform and uniform issued by Michigan, but lack enough information to include their Zouave uniform in the plate. I think I am getting close to enough information about their Zouave uniforms.

I would do the description but would need an artist to do the art work.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top