Uniforms of the 20th Georgia: Country Brown Jeans

lelliott19

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Southern Confederacy. (Atlanta, Ga.), March 06, 1862, page 3.
Alvin Kimsey Seago was an Atlanta merchant operating a general store located at the corner of Forsyth and Mitchell Streets in Atlanta. Here he requests to purchase 500 yards of Country Brown Jeans, also referred to as "best brown Jeans" - delivered immediately at my store. The ad also tells us that he was purchasing this brown jeans specifically for the "Confederate Continentals."

I feel sure that Alvin would have known exactly what kind of fabric the Continentals wanted for their uniforms ---- his brother Eli Merrill Seago was the Captain of the Confederate Continentals, which became Company F of the 20th Georgia. How many uniforms would 500 yards make?

What does "Country Brown Jeans" look like? Would all the Companies of the 20th GA have had early uniforms made of the same fabric? What about earlier than March 1862? Interestingly, a uniform attributed to Pvt Matthew Reynolds of Co K 20th Georgia sold through Morphy Auctions in the Fall of 2005. It looks brown to me. Reynolds enlisted in 1861 and served through at least July 1862.

So is this uniform that was auctioned off in 2005 made of this "best brown Jeans" aka "Country Brown Jeans"?

Thanks in advance for your help. @Package4 @major bill @ucvrelics @Rusk County Avengers
 

Package4

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View attachment 385064
Southern Confederacy. (Atlanta, Ga.), March 06, 1862, page 3.
Alvin Kimsey Seago was an Atlanta merchant operating a general store located at the corner of Forsyth and Mitchell Streets in Atlanta. Here he requests to purchase 500 yards of Country Brown Jeans, also referred to as "best brown Jeans" - delivered immediately at my store. The ad also tells us that he was purchasing this brown jeans specifically for the "Confederate Continentals."

I feel sure that Alvin would have known exactly what kind of fabric the Continentals wanted for their uniforms ---- his brother Eli Merrill Seago was the Captain of the Confederate Continentals, which became Company F of the 20th Georgia. How many uniforms would 500 yards make?

What does "Country Brown Jeans" look like? Would all the Companies of the 20th GA have had early uniforms made of the same fabric? What about earlier than March 1862? Interestingly, a uniform attributed to Pvt Matthew Reynolds of Co K 20th Georgia sold through Morphy Auctions in the Fall of 2005. It looks brown to me. Reynolds enlisted in 1861 and served through at least July 1862.

So is this uniform that was auctioned off in 2005 made of this "best brown Jeans" aka "Country Brown Jeans"?

Thanks in advance for your help. @Package4 @major bill @ucvrelics @Rusk County Avengers
The pants are more than likely closest to the color referenced than the jacket. The jacket appears to be a late war “emergency“ issue. Some years ago I was offered a chance to purchase a Georgia kepi found at Devil’s Den and it was a dark brown color. I think I may still have pictures somewhere.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Oh I reckon 500 yards could've made around 300 full uniforms, (jackets, trousers, and caps).

Normally I'd think "drab" colored jean, like in the heavily modified post-war uniform in the link, but saying "best brown jeans" I'm inclined to think the color was more like Ben Tart's reproduction "boar brown" colored jean, which I made a repro of a Georgia greatcoat for a fellow a couple years ago:

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@Package4 will know better than me original cloth wise, as for the Continentals, I'll look for photos of them and see what their uniforms look like. Even in black & white you can get idea of how light dark their cloths were.
 

lelliott19

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Assuming a soldier could have kept his kepi in reasonably good condition from April 1862 to July 1863, then that one, found at Devil's Den, could theoretically have been one of the ones made for the 20th Georgia, using the country brown jeans. The 20th Georgia was Benning's brigade, Hood's Division, Longstreet's Corps and they were definitely in the vicinity of Devil's Den on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg. @Tom Elmore you might be interested to see this kepi.
 

Carol

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It appears that the "Brown Jeans" were not depot issued unlike majority of the jackets and coats. The above ad was captured in the Fayetteville area of Tennessee. But, "Country Brown Jeans" seem to be popular back during this time period as well. Usually, 1 1/2 yards is needed to create a pair of jeans today so with 300 yards, one could assume over 330 pairs were created.
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The above ad was located in print during 1863 in Abingdon, Virginia. Many merchants were in "dire straits" from the onset of the war and throughout the war. Notice the last two sentences in the ad.
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This ad can be found during September 5, 1861 mentioning the surplus of Tennessee Gray and Brown Jeans.
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A touch of blue wool integrated within the fabric on this pair of jeans belonging to Private Joseph William Daniel of Company D, 5th Georgia Cavalry, Liberty Rangers. The site with this photo also contains more details on this particular pair of jeans and includes many other details about the uniforms from other areas. This photo was from a segment entitled, " Confederate Uniforms of the Lower South"

I found this topic very interesting and thought I would share what I was able to uncover.


First photo documentation: Fayetteville observer. [volume] (Fayetteville, Tenn.) 1850-1966, February 27, 1862, Image 4 « Chronicling America « Library of Congress (loc.gov)
Second photo documentation: The Abingdon Virginian. [volume] (Abingdon [Va.]) 1849-1883, August 07, 1863, Image 4 « Chronicling America « Library of Congress (loc.gov)
Third photo documentation: Memphis daily appeal. [volume] (Memphis, Tenn.) 1847-1886, September 05, 1861, Image 1 « Chronicling America « Library of Congress (loc.gov)
Fourth photo documentation: Confederate Uniforms of the Lower South, Part IV: Atlantic Seaboard (adolphusconfederateuniforms.com)
 

Package4

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From a piece in my collection, it appears identical to the one referenced in the Morphy/Julia Auction, down to the pillows in the rear:


The jacket is faded and internally it shows a dark brown jean, I am of the opinion that this is post war, but it is identical in every respect (exception, lack of buttons) to the Matthew Reynold's jacket of the 20th GA. @ucvrelics, look familiar?

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BTWhite61

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Could "brown jeans" be a reference to what is now known as "drab" or "sheep's gray/sheep's brown?" You shear a sheep, card and scour the wool, and spin it into yarn without dyeing. Depending upon the color of the sheep and degree of fiber blending, you'll get shades varying from natural white, grays, tans, browns and sometimes even black.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Could "brown jeans" be a reference to what is now known as "drab" or "sheep's gray/sheep's brown?" You shear a sheep, card and scour the wool, and spin it into yarn without dyeing. Depending upon the color of the sheep and degree of fiber blending, you'll get shades varying from natural white, grays, tans, browns and sometimes even black.

That's what I first wondered, but if so wouldn't they have just asked for drab jean instead of specifying brown?
 

Package4

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Could "brown jeans" be a reference to what is now known as "drab" or "sheep's gray/sheep's brown?" You shear a sheep, card and scour the wool, and spin it into yarn without dyeing. Depending upon the color of the sheep and degree of fiber blending, you'll get shades varying from natural white, grays, tans, browns and sometimes even black.
Since the reference is of “Jeans” how much would wool impact the color of the fabric, realizing that the weft most likely was of wool?
 

RedRover

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"Brown jeans" was the common wear of country people in the South before, during, and immediately after the war. It was frequently home-spun. Here is a description from the period:

“The wool is coarse, and is used with cotton in the manufacture of homespun clothing for the Crackers. Very little "factory cloth" is worn in some of the districts. The old spinning wheel and loom are still in operation. The Cracker seldom suffers pecuniary loss from too sudden change of fashions. He is doggedly opposed to innovation. The first pattern of frock coat and trousers worn by the country planters in the Old Dominion, is now the most modern style in central Georgia and the Carolinas. Even imported dye stuffs are little used, as the native barks impart the favorite otter color at a less expense.” [Parsons, C.G., An Inside view of Slavery, or a Tour Among the Planters. John P. Jewett & Company, Boston, 1855. 92.]

More refined sorts, even in the South, called the country people "brown jeans" in derision. See John Jackman's Diary of a Confederate Soldier (Orphan Brigade).

An 1862 painting of country hunters in brown...
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While many in the South had taken to mill goods before the war, the blockade, etc. forced a renewed reliance on the old stand-by... brown jeans!
And from August, 1861 it was considered suitable for soldier's dress:

"Clothing our Soldiers All who can do should at the earliest possible day, make up something like the following for their friends and relatives; two pairs of pants, heavy brown or gray mixed jeans lined, if thought advisable with domestic. One roundabout, or army jacket of the same material, lined throughout, with side and vest pockets. It should be long enough to come some four inches below the waistband of the pants and large enough to be worn over the vest or outside shirt. One heavy vest of jeans, linsey or kersey; One overshirt [underwear], of some woolen or mixed goods, one or two pairs of drawers, as the case may require, two pairs of heavy woolen socks, one good blanket, or a loose sack coat; or hunting shirt with belt." [Tuscaloosa Observer, Tuscaloosa, AL, 8-28-1861.]

In her memoir ("through Some Eventful Years...") Susan B. Eppes of Madison, Florida noted by late 1861 only cheap domestic butternut jeans made in north Georgia and Alabama were available on the market for men's clothes:
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J. Marshall,
Hernando, FL.
 
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