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!

Long Hair on Confederates, (and Federals)

Discussion in 'Impressions of the Civil War' started by Rusk County Avengers, Apr 13, 2018.

  1. Rusk County Avengers

    Rusk County Avengers Private

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2018
    Messages:
    51
    Location:
    Coffeeville, TX
    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.
     

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

    captaindrew Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2017
    Messages:
    2,313
    Location:
    West Palm Beach Florida
    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.
     
  4. Rusk County Avengers

    Rusk County Avengers Private

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2018
    Messages:
    51
    Location:
    Coffeeville, TX
    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.
     
  5. Rusk County Avengers

    Rusk County Avengers Private

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2018
    Messages:
    51
    Location:
    Coffeeville, TX
    You beat me to it by one second lol!
     
  6. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Messages:
    23,301
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    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.
     
  7. MaryDee

    MaryDee 2nd Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2014
    Messages:
    2,680
    Location:
    Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
    Many of the high ranking officers had body servants to help them with grooming, which explains why they could afford those luxuriant beards.
     
  8. amweiner

    amweiner Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2,408
    Location:
    Monterey, CA
    And while I can't recall the exact quote, I did read one soldier's statement that getting a good shave and haircut restored "[a man] to decency", or something along those lines. Sounds like the soldiers looked forward to getting rid of excess hair that only served as lice hotels and fire hazards.
     
  9. Tailor Pete

    Tailor Pete Private

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2018
    Messages:
    110
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    In the few instances where I can find photographs of the same soldier over a course of in-service time, you see the hair change pretty immediately... long flowing locks in the studio portrait when they enlisted, short hair after some time in the ranks.
     
  10. johan_steele

    johan_steele Colonel Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    14,110
    Location:
    South of the North 40
  11. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    6,887
    Location:
    Texas
    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.

    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.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Rusk County Avengers

    Rusk County Avengers Private

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2018
    Messages:
    51
    Location:
    Coffeeville, TX
    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...
     
  13. Rusk County Avengers

    Rusk County Avengers Private

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2018
    Messages:
    51
    Location:
    Coffeeville, TX
    Love that photo, so telling in many ways, especially with no kepis, or forage caps
     
    mofederal likes this.
  14. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    6,887
    Location:
    Texas
    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.

    Confederate prisoners Cropped.jpg

    Confederate prisoners 1.jpg
    Confederate prisoners 2.jpg
     
  15. DixieRifles

    DixieRifles 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Messages:
    4,425
    Location:
    Collierville, TN
    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 _______"
     
  16. Rusk County Avengers

    Rusk County Avengers Private

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2018
    Messages:
    51
    Location:
    Coffeeville, TX
    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.
     
  17. mofederal

    mofederal 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2017
    Messages:
    4,330
    Location:
    Southeast Missouri
    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.
     
    Rusk County Avengers likes this.
  18. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    20,851
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    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!
     
  19. Cpl Isaac Metcalf CSA

    Cpl Isaac Metcalf CSA Private

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2018
    Messages:
    58
    Location:
    Hartlepool,England
    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!
     
  20. Northern Light

    Northern Light Major

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2014
    Messages:
    8,507
    I was looking at these pictures, and a question occurred to me. Did the cowboy hat that we know today morph from the slouch hat of the Civil War? I am looking at the picture posted by @AUG351, the first blow up, and the guy sitting on the ground holding his knees, just left of centre. Is that a slouch hat or some other type?
     
  21. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    20,851
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    Just a side note: Fighting with really long hair has some major drawbacks... If you're trying to leave the fight (run!) they can grab your braid or pony tail and drag you back in... :x3:
     

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

Share This Page


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