Light Artillery Militia Uniforms

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Sep 18, 2017
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Fort Schuyler, Throggs Neck, NY
So I'm looking into Light Artillery uniforms for NYS Militia so that our unit can get all new jackets and trousers and the right gear so that when we go to reenactments we don't look so rag-tag. We've tracked down what NYS Militia jackets look like and some reference photos from the US Army's Quartermaster Museum's online site, but they're federal uniforms. I just want to know how far from federal uniforms the militia uniforms would be or if we could just use the federal uniforms for our base, minus the difference in jackets, and then work our budget around that.We're a relatively newer unit and we all want to get on par with our uniforms so that we can really look the part. We currently have 3 State Shell coats and the rest of our collection is sack coats. The pictures attached are the references that I found, with the ranks that we have specifically for our unit. Thanks for any help you guys can provide for us.
 

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Hello and welcome to Civil War Talk.

I'm sure others are far more qualified to answer your questions, but I would think these militia uniforms would limit your unit to only a few very early War events.
 

major bill

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Hello and we'll come to the forum. It would help if you gave us a date and a light artillery unit. I am sure you are aware that the New York militia had two styles of jackets, depending on the time frame.

In 1863 the New York militia was using chasseur style jackets a.k.a. polka jackets.

The next question is how long had the light artillery unit been in Federal service?
 
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Our unit name is the 20th NY Independent Battery, Light Artillery
Our unit mustered in from Sept.-Dec of 1862 and was mustered out on July 31, 1865. Our unit only ever saw light action during the New York City Draft riots where we helped quell the riots. We were garrisoned in Fort Schuyler for the duration of the war. We as a unit use the C&C Sultery NY Militia Artillery shell jackets with V piping on the sleeves and piping down the front http://www.ccsutlery.com/store/us-shell-jacket-new-york-militia-artillery.html?__utma=224036233.2072454544.1504987884.1505011347.1505788633.4&__utmb=224036233&__utmc=224036233&__utmz=224036233.1505788633.4.3.utmccn=(referral)|utmcsr=google.com|utmcct=/|utmcmd=referral&__utmv=-
We literally reenact our unit where we were stationed during the war because our unit is comprised of faculty and students from the NYS Maritime Academy (SUNY Maritime). Also we since a lot of major events, like Gettysburg, want authentic units present we don't usually attend those, but still go to other events where they're more relaxed about what units can come and reenact there. I'm the unofficial/official club historian and I've searched all over google from broad searches to narrow searches and can't really find too much information about what a unit like ours would look like.
 

Frederick14Va

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What specific unit is the portrayal?... and any data regarding known issues and when?

Most units chose a given time frame appearance as their primary impression fodder... This commonly reflects the majority of programs and events they desire to participate in... One kit to cover the largest scope. This generally is a mid-late war impression... many also have alternate kits put together later as an addition such as early war time frame.... Knowing that uniforms and gear tended to evolve over the course of the war... hence what a given unit looked like in 1862, may be totally different than what they looked like in 1864... They may have started out being provided state issued goods... but later in the war that likely changed to receiving standard US govt stuff when the first wore out.. The images above are full dress uniforms... likely wouldn't have much opportunity to don such dapper goods, especially on a battlefield.... and they would also be quite expensive to put together...

Another issue is the impression flexibility potential.... Most times on the reenactment fields we are commonly designated to portray a given historical unit that was there.... that is different from whom we normally portray or is our namesake... This is also why majority of reputable units tend to lean towards a more common generic appearance... so they can feasibly portray whom ever they desire or needed to do... Doing Federal is much easier since the respective time frame issues were less complex than doing CS impressions... A simple quality Federal sack coat, and fatigue cap, sky blue trousers one can fit in to just about anything, for a good long time frame... and its less expensive kit to obtain as well... and also would provide a degree of uniformity within the ranks... Have been doing both US and CS authentic Artillery for decades... When US... I use the sack coat the most... I also have an artillery MSJ for when we are portraying units that it applies too.. On the CS side for artillery I have four different jackets, depending on the time frame, and theater, being portrayed. But much of this was put together over the course of many years too...

I would also suggest resisting the urge that many new units and new reenactors tend to trod is diving into the decoration binge of preponderance of brass decorations, hat cords, badges, John Wayne neon red bibbed battle shirts and the like... that many wade into... Also try to keep the displayed rank structure in line with historical provenance of what a typical battery would have. Too many times we see units that half are NCO's and the other half officers.... It just looks silly when a group has 5-6 of the 7 cannoneers wearing chevrons... including 1st Sgt, Sgt Maj and the like, up on the gun... Good luck on your endeavor...
 

Frederick14Va

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Our unit name is the 20th NY Independent Battery, Light Artillery
Our unit mustered in from Sept.-Dec of 1862 and was mustered out on July 31, 1865. Our unit only ever saw light action during the New York City Draft riots where we helped quell the riots. We were garrisoned in Fort Schuyler for the duration of the war. We as a unit use the C&C Sultery NY Militia Artillery shell jackets with V piping on the sleeves and piping down the front http://www.ccsutlery.com/store/us-shell-jacket-new-york-militia-artillery.html?__utma=224036233.2072454544.1504987884.1505011347.1505788633.4&__utmb=224036233&__utmc=224036233&__utmz=224036233.1505788633.4.3.utmccn=(referral)|utmcsr=google.com|utmcct=/|utmcmd=referral&__utmv=-
We literally reenact our unit where we were stationed during the war because our unit is comprised of faculty and students from the NYS Maritime Academy (SUNY Maritime). Also we since a lot of major events, like Gettysburg, want authentic units present we don't usually attend those, but still go to other events where they're more relaxed about what units can come and reenact there. I'm the unofficial/official club historian and I've searched all over google from broad searches to narrow searches and can't really find too much information about what a unit like ours would look like.
My apology... was still typing when you responded above and answered some of the questions I presented...

If your range of participation is limited to the general area and environs as mentioned the NY State Jackets would serve its purpose, sack coats would too. Troops garrisoned in state generally would be much more uniform and tidy than those out on active campaign....

Do you have an artillery gun to use?... or just portraying garrisoned troops ?
 
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We do have sack coats and normal sky blue trousers. We do have 4 pieces that we can bring, but usually only 3. We bring a light hand mortar, 12 pdr mountain howitzer, and our 1862 and 1872 dalhgren boat howitzer. The last one being the 1872 because it's a smaller gun than our medium one and makes it easier to transport to reenactments and to school football games. That being said we do participate in reenactments. We did just this past weekend Cold Spring Village in Cape May NJ, do Locust Grove VA in November, have done Brickhouse multiple times and participated in the 150th Appomattox Courthouse. Our issue is that during the summer a good portion of our crew is on the training ship so we only can reenact early in march-april and from late august-november
 
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current standard uniform for us at reenactments is either a sack coat or the state shell coat, sky blue trousers, a white or red undershirt, belt with either a US or NYS buckle (we just ordered more NYS buckles), and the implement that we use on the gun. At southern events few of us carry sidearms, and our 1st sergeant (gun commander) has a saber (USN issue) at all events. As for covers we wear either the french style kepis or forage caps with crossed cannon barrels. Attached are pretty much how we attempt to portray our uniforms. Artillery common picture is from our most recent reenactment, this past weekend, in Cape May
 

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major bill

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According to Frederick P. Todd in his 4 volume book series, American Military Equipage 1851 to 1872 the 20th New New York Independent Artillery Battery was issued Federal regulation light artillery uniforms for Federal service.

Although Todd's classic work is now a bit dated, it is still a good place to start.

It would be possible that the battery wore New York uniforms when not on Federal duty. It is also possible they adopted uniforms of their own choice while not on Federal service.
 

major bill

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Todd's book has been out of print for years. However it is available in most large libraries. Todd is no longer with us and we lost a major uniform expert.

I am not sure where Mr. Todd got his information. I do think his widow donated his uniform notes to a library in Rhode Island.

The top New York Civil War uniforms experts I know of are Anthony Gero and Rodger Sturcke. Well I am excluding experts that are next to impossible to get to talk to.
 


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