Long Hair on Confederates, (and Federals)

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#1
I'm still relatively new to the forum, but as a reenactor, I've seen far to many fellow reenactors with excessively long hair, (particularly among a certain group with no horses), and while I'm currently guilty of it myself for other reasons than CW but, long hair is NOT correct for a Confederate impression, or a Union one either. To illustrate this I'll share an amusing story from W.H. Andrews, Company M, 1st Georgia Regulars in 1861 shortly after enlisting.

"Sometime in the evening we were ordered to go to the regimental barber and have our hair shingled. All men before the war wore long hair, with no beard or mustache on their faces. It went pretty hard with some boys to give up their glossy locks, but off they had to come. Saw an officer spoil a fellow's hair with his knife because he refused to have it cut off. In way of uniforms we drew blue flannel shirts. And for bedding a blanket for each man."

I'm sure the issue has been addressed, but this is a hilarious first-hand account that the naysayers should here, also if my Captain was still among us and read this, a lot of guys would have had their hair cut in this fashion.

Anyone interested in the source look for "Footprints of A Regiment" by Andrews as it was his journal/Diary, its a good read.
 

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#2
It was out of necessity, long hair and long beards were a perfect home for lice. If you look at any field photos of Federals or Confederates you will mostly see short hair, no beards or shortly trimmed beards. There's always exceptions but not the norm. Usually the only time you will see it is on officers taken in a studio.
 
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#3
Also, I'm positive this account would count for Federals, as these very officers in Andrews's account were former US Army officers. This hair cutting practice would have been universal throughout the war, as its just been demonstrated how easy an cheap it is lol! But short hair wasn't just for looking professional, but also a health issue as lice were a major problem in the War, and those lice would have been right at home in long glossy hair or in a beard.
 
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#4
It was out of necessity, long hair and long beards were a perfect home for lice. If you look at any field photos of Federals or Confederates you will mostly see short hair, no beards or shortly trimmed beards. There's always exceptions but not the norm. Usually the only time you will see it is on officers taken in a studio.
You beat me to it by one second lol!
 

Pat Young

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#5
It was out of necessity, long hair and long beards were a perfect home for lice. If you look at any field photos of Federals or Confederates you will mostly see short hair, no beards or shortly trimmed beards. There's always exceptions but not the norm. Usually the only time you will see it is on officers taken in a studio.
Yeah. When I see it in pictures, beards are more likely on officers. The higher the rank, the longer the beard. When my beard gets out of control, my friends say it is Civil War General length.
 

AUG

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#10
Agree with what others have said. I can recall at least a couple midwar photos of Confederate prisoners with shoulder-length hair, but those were in prison camps, not taken in the field and the exception among the other prisoners. I don't think I've ever seen a photograph of troops in the field with long hair (at least not shoulder length) and few with big scruffy beards.

All men before the war wore long hair, with no beard or mustache on their faces.
Also, when Andrews says "long hair" worn by men before the war I assume he means not any longer than shoulder-length; hair any longer than that was not the style of the period. I think the prewar photo of William Mangrum (who later served Co. H, 20th Tenn. Inf.) below was typical for the the prewar era and perhaps what Andrews meant.
 

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#11
Glad to see everyone here is in agreement, but one would be surprised at the arguments I've had to listen to at reenactments with a reenactor with hair down lower than his shoulder on their hair length. The most common I've heard was that soldiers couldn't get, or afford a haircut, which this first hand account I've shown is, to me, hilarious evidence to the contrary.

The worst argument I've heard was when a guy told me that real men in the 1860's wore their hair down to a waist length like himself out of pride for their homeland! After I stopped laughing on the ground, I was shocked to learn, he was serious!

Some folks shouldn't be let near a reenactment...
 

DixieRifles

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#14
I've heard was when a guy told me that real men in the 1860's wore their hair down to a waist length
Reminds me what I heard growing up with Red Necks in the 50's & 60's during the hippie movement.

"It isn't how much hair you grow on your head that makes you a MAN, it how much you grown on your _______"
 
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#15
I've posted it a few times before, but this is a great image of Confederate prisoners at White House Landing, Va., taken June 9, 1864. These men were captured about a month into the Overland Campaign, yet many are still clean shaven and their hair doesn't appear to be that long.

View attachment 183908

View attachment 183903
View attachment 183904
I've seen that photo a million times but never blown up so big, never noticed before but one man standing behind the soldier with the sack coat and haversack out front almost looks like a black man, never noticed that before. Thanks for sharing that photo in such clarity.

I've never been a proponent of the long hair craze in reenacting, but hopefully someone in need of an education sees all this on google lol.
 
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#16
I think that people have been watching too many movies. Missouri Confederate Guerrillas do not seem to have long hair either based upon published images. Somewhat long, but not real long. In the movies though they swore to not cut their hair till the end of the war. Given lice and other critters, I would think long hair was mostly a story only. Images do not lie. They had short hair for a reason. I would say that hygiene played a huge roll in this. I would also say there are always a few who would have longer hair, but I think most wore it closer cropped.
 

diane

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#17
I've noticed the difference in hair styles between the North and the South, but neither had it very long. Some individuals did but the average fellow seemed to keep it short. I think the officers did tend to have beards more than the soldiers because of better access to water and soap! Grant and Lee both had very short hair, then you had the blunt cut and somewhat bushy - like Forrest. That, I think, was a style meant to be dandied up a little with hair cream and curls around the face. Really long hair tends to fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees as well as being a home for the fleas!
 
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Jan 24, 2018
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#18
Oh,bother (or something like that),i currently own hair that extends to just below my shoulder blades and a beard just waiting for a Badger to move in,i freely admit i thought it appropriate for a Confederate Guerrilla (my new interpretation) but,now that i know better,Sunday has a date with scissors & shears,just glad i didn't appear in the field looking like that,thanks everyone,it sure has saved me considerable embarrassment!
 

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