The Holy Grail of Confederate Uniform Collecting, a Type I RD Jacket?

Package4

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Les Jensen wrote the paper on Richmond Depot Jackets and discussed the various Types I, II and III. Les was able to display pictures of existing Type II and IIIs, but was only able to show period photographs of the elusive Type I as none were known to exist. The closest was a reasonable copy, I believe it was the Sgt. Green jacket of a NC unit, but that was though not to be from the Richmond Clothing Bureau, but a commercially made commutation jacket.

Well, the white whale may very well have surfaced. We all speculated that one had to exist, in a trunk, in some obscure attic and we were right. A coat brought home by a prison guard at the infamous Elmira prison camp in 1864 has surfaced. The jacket was kept inn a trunk with the effects of the soldier who brought it home. I was not able to inspect the interior, but it has every earmark of the elusive I, it is incredibly small and would be a size 1 in the Federal sizing system. Shoulder to shoulder seam it approximated maybe 15 inches. The real unique aspect are the machine sewn chevrons. three up and three down in a diamond. There was speculation that this was a Sgt. Major's coat or even a member of a color guard. I actually think the young lad was a Quarter Master Sgt. The soldier had to have been the smallest in the regiment, with exception of maybe a drummer boy or band member. The jacket is also in remarkable shape, with exception of the area six to eight inches up from the cuff. The jacket is satinette and you can see the cotton warp on booth sleeves and there is speculation that the sleeves were used to wipe the face after eating and the oils, fats and other food residue along with the friction wore away the wool. The wool is only missing on the front of the sleeve and not the obverse.

I believe him to be a QM Sgt. because of his diminutive stature and the obvious lack of wear, I believe this young man had a clerical job in the prison due to his QM experience. There is no way this jacket would have remained in such good condition in the outside weather. The other conclusion would be that the young man died early on and his jacket was kept as a souvenir. I do not think the latter the case, the buttons are Federal General Service buttons and not original to the jacket. I'll wager that he traded his CS or state buttons for a favor, ration or other, along with a federal button.

The jacket looks to be tailored at some juncture as the chevrons are machine sewn to the sleeves and the waist has been taken in. Well, I'll let the pictures tell the tale:

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ucvrelics

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Les Jensen wrote the paper on Richmond Depot Jackets and discussed the various Types I, II and III. Les was able to display pictures of existing Type II and IIIs, but was only able to show period photographs of the elusive Type I as none were known to exist. The closest was a reasonable copy, I believe it was the Sgt. Green jacket of a NC unit, but that was though not to be from the Richmond Clothing Bureau, but a commercially made commutation jacket.

Well, the white whale may very well have surfaced. We all speculated that one had to exist, in a trunk, in some obscure attic and we were right. A coat brought home by a prison guard at the infamous Elmira prison camp in 1864 has surfaced. The jacket was kept inn a trunk with the effects of the soldier who brought it home. I was not able to inspect the interior, but it has every earmark of the elusive I, it is incredibly small and would be a size 1 in the Federal sizing system. Shoulder to shoulder seam it approximated maybe 15 inches. The real unique aspect are the machine sewn chevrons. three up and three down in a diamond. There was speculation that this was a Sgt. Major's coat or even a member of a color guard. I actually think the young lad was a Quarter Master Sgt. The soldier had to have been the smallest in the regiment, with exception of maybe a drummer boy or band member. The jacket is also in remarkable shape, with exception of the area six to eight inches up from the cuff. The jacket is satinette and you can see the cotton warp on booth sleeves and there is speculation that the sleeves were used to wipe the face after eating and the oils, fats and other food residue along with the friction wore away the wool. The wool is only missing on the front of the sleeve and not the obverse.

I believe him to be a QM Sgt. because of his diminutive stature and the obvious lack of wear, I believe this young man had a clerical job in the prison due to his QM experience. There is no way this jacket would have remained in such good condition in the outside weather. The other conclusion would be that the young man died early on and his jacket was kept as a souvenir. I do not think the latter the case, the buttons are Federal General Service buttons and not original to the jacket. I'll wager that he traded his CS or state buttons for a favor, ration or other, along with a federal button.

The jacket looks to be tailored at some juncture as the chevrons are machine sewn to the sleeves and the waist has been taken in. Well, I'll let the pictures tell the tale:

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Awesome jacket. Do you thing the sleeve shredding added and length? as the sleeve look might long.
 

Package4

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Awesome jacket. Do you thing the sleeve shredding added and length? as the sleeve look might long.
I don’t think so, I believe it was tailored and the body shortened a tiny bit and the waist brought in. Just a gangly youth with long arms and legs. I have seen several such jackets with the long sleeves.
 

captaindrew

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Awesome jacket. Do you thing the sleeve shredding added and length? as the sleeve look might long.
You have to keep in mind too the jackets were only supposed to come down to your natural waistline at your naval and over your hips. Not where we wear our pants today. They are quite short.
 

ucvrelics

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You have to keep in mind too the jackets were only supposed to come down to your natural waistline at your naval and over your hips. Not where we wear our pants today. They are quite short.
Makes sense with it being a waist coat. I thought he may have been a knuckle drager.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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I saw this pop up on FB over the weekend and thought "Now there ain't NO way in h*** one turned up!" and looked at the pictures in awe.

Now I'm kind of suspicious. A Type I from 1864, is like two years after they stopped showing up in records and pictures. I'm kind of halfway wondering if its a tailor made copy like the Green Jacket.

Also I just got to say it, I'm not sure any CS or State buttons were ever on it. Like a wise old man I know told me over and over when I was a kid, "The most common Confederate button is a Federal button."

(Not that I've ever got around to listening when making myself or friends CS jackets.:D I need to fix that.)
 

Package4

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I saw this pop up on FB over the weekend and thought "Now there ain't NO way in h*** one turned up!" and looked at the pictures in awe.

Now I'm kind of suspicious. A Type I from 1864, is like two years after they stopped showing up in records and pictures. I'm kind of halfway wondering if its a tailor made copy like the Green Jacket.

Also I just got to say it, I'm not sure any CS or State buttons were ever on it. Like a wise old man I know told me over and over when I was a kid, "The most common Confederate button is a Federal button."

(Not that I've ever got around to listening when making myself or friends CS jackets.:D I need to fix that.)
The thought is that the lad might have been captured ‘62 and died of disease soon after or had a desk job at the prison. The guard was there from 62-64, so the jacket wasn’t from 64, but brought home that year. How the original owner parted with it is supposition, but he must have died. His small stature and cold winters were not a great combination.
 

Package4

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Joined
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I saw this pop up on FB over the weekend and thought "Now there ain't NO way in h*** one turned up!" and looked at the pictures in awe.

Now I'm kind of suspicious. A Type I from 1864, is like two years after they stopped showing up in records and pictures. I'm kind of halfway wondering if its a tailor made copy like the Green Jacket.

Also I just got to say it, I'm not sure any CS or State buttons were ever on it. Like a wise old man I know told me over and over when I was a kid, "The most common Confederate button is a Federal button."

(Not that I've ever got around to listening when making myself or friends CS jackets.:D I need to fix that.)
You would be pressed to find early war jackets and frocks with federal buttons. The last thing a Southerner wanted was a reminder of the oppressive government they were up against. As supplies dwindled it became necessary to use what they might acquire. I also think that many jackets were worn after the war as the only garment they owned. Federal regulations and law precluded Southern displays of anything related to the CS and as such buttons were replaced, covered or painted black.

The buttons on this jacket are not original to it, we were able to ascertain that, thus the supposition that he traded them for rations or other privileges. When looking at photographs of Confederate dead after Union victories, you will see that the buttons are gone unless they were Federal. The Spotsylvania and Petersburg photos are very poignant in this respect. A button sent home to the family or sweetheart was a novelty few could match. You will also notice the shoulder straps of the Tait jackets were cut away as souvenirs as well!
 
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Package4

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The thought is that the lad might have been captured ‘62 and died of disease soon after or had a desk job at the prison. The guard was there from 62-64, so the jacket wasn’t from 64, but brought home that year. How the original owner parted with it is supposition, but he must have died. His small stature and cold winters were not a great combination.
Correction, the guard in question was there from August to November ‘64, but there is no doubt that the jacket is original, early and appears to be Depot. Did the young lad die and coat kept in reserve, did he die and a comrade keep the coat for his family then died himself? Les has looked at the jacket and Fred A has seen pictures, both have given a thumbs up, but have not studied it in depth. Could it be that the small lad was a favorite and given a desk job, passed from disease and his coat kept as a memento? Burial pictures of both Union POWs show burials in shirtsleeves and under drawers, might that be a general practice and uniforms as were kept for later distribution?

Lot of what if’s, the exciting thing is that even if commercially made it is the rarest piece of cloth to emerge in decades!
 

lelliott19

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Burial pictures of both Union POWs show burials in shirtsleeves and under drawers, might that be a general practice
@Gary Morgan you'll have to read the entire thread to catch up on the story, but do you know if Confederate prisoners in Federal prisons were buried in shirtsleeves and what was done with their uniform jackets? It makes sense to me that they would have been -- no sense wasting a good jacket burying it with a dead prisoner. I think the reason this one survived in such relatively good condition is because it was too small for anyone else to wear.
 
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@Gary Morgan you'll have to read the entire thread to catch up on the story, but do you know if Confederate prisoners in Federal prisons were buried in shirtsleeves and what was done with their uniform jackets? It makes sense to me that they would have been -- no sense wasting a good jacket burying it with a dead prisoner. I think the reason this one survived in such relatively good condition is because it was too small for anyone else to wear.
Probably. I know that in places like Andersonville and Salisbury, it was normal for the surviving prisoners to strip the clothes off of the dead ones because the living needed them and the dead didn't. Even if it didn't fit you, the buttons on it could be used as prison currency for trading with, so many of the dead went to their graves in the same state that they came into the world - naked.

The closest modern correlation I can make are films of the Warsau Ghetto in Poland, where you'd see dead bodies on the sidewalk, and it wouldn't occur to you until later that the bodies had been stripped of all their clothing.
 
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