USN enlisted shoulder sleeve insignia

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#1
Hello everybody, I was hoping that someone could explain to me (preferably with pictures) about the US Navy's shoulder sleeve insignia for enlisted ratings during the Civil War. For example, I've seen a sleeve badge for a gunner's mate that had crossed cannon barrels and also seen an illustration and read a regulation that had gunners mates wearing a sleeve badge that was the same as for an ordinary petty officer with an eagle and an anchor. Also I don't know which sleeve any of this was worn on. Were the badges that had individual designs, like crossed cannon barrels for a gunner's mate, unofficial badges made up by crewmen and not in the regulations whereas the plain badge that was the same as for any other petty officer what was really supposed to be worn by a gunner's mate? I've seen also for example a coxswain's badge that had an anchor and I'm wondering what sleeve this was worn on and if this was an official badge. Many thanks to anybody that can explain to me about the enlisted ratings shoulder sleeve insignia, it's uncharted waters for me.
 

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DaveBrt

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#2
Hello everybody, I was hoping that someone could explain to me (preferably with pictures) about the US Navy's shoulder sleeve insignia for enlisted ratings during the Civil War. For example, I've seen a sleeve badge for a gunner's mate that had crossed cannon barrels and also seen an illustration and read a regulation that had gunners mates wearing a sleeve badge that was the same as for an ordinary petty officer with an eagle and an anchor. Also I don't know which sleeve any of this was worn on. Were the badges that had individual designs, like crossed cannon barrels for a gunner's mate, unofficial badges made up by crewmen and not in the regulations whereas the plain badge that was the same as for any other petty officer what was really supposed to be worn by a gunner's mate? I've seen also for example a coxswain's badge that had an anchor and I'm wondering what sleeve this was worn on and if this was an official badge. Many thanks to anybody that can explain to me about the enlisted ratings shoulder sleeve insignia, it's uncharted waters for me.
This is not a complete reply, but does answer some of your questions.

https://www.history.navy.mil/resear...istory-of-us-navy-uniforms-1776-1981.html#en4
 

DaveBrt

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#5
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#6
I found this:
" It is to be noted that the petty officer displays no form of rating badge, only the device worn by all petty officers, that introduced in 1841 and modified by the addition of the star in 1852. It is possible to determine the man’s rating for the petty officers’ distinguishing mark was worn on the right arm by boatswain’s mates, carpenter’s mate, gunner’s mates, sailmaker’s mates, ship’s stewards and cooks only. "
https://www.history.navy.mil/browse...nd-personal-equipment/uniforms-1862-1863.html

This is what I'm talking about, I've seen specialty badges for gunner's mates, boatswain's mates etc. but this refers to them as only wearing the petty officer's insignia. Would they wear the PO's insignia on the sleeve designated above and on the other sleeve wear their specialty badge (e.g. boatswain's mate etc.)?
 
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#7
It's badges like these I'm talking about, this one is a boatswain's mate
Civil War; Union,Navy.boatswain's.mate.insignia..jpg


and this one is a gunner's mate
Civil War; Union,Navy.gunner's.mate.patch..jpg
and this one is for a coxswain
Civil War; Union,Navy.coxswain's.badge..jpg


These kind of insignia don't seem to be mentioned in the regulations, or at least in none that I've seen. But they clearly must have had a role in the war. Maybe worn on the opposite sleeve from the generic petty officer badge?
 
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#9
Have you thought about contacting the following museums:

US Naval Academy Museum
Civil War Naval Museum

Even though many museums have had their budgets reduced in recent years, they are still friendly and helpful.
 

major bill

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#10
Because I have been on a escapade in Florida and Georgia for two weeks, I am far from my uniform reference labrary in Michigan. One book that might be worth looking at is Bluejackets by Ron Field. Mr. Field joined CWT a month or so ago and answered some questions about uniform booklets he had published.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#11
I actually don't know a lot about enlisted insignia. They seem to have primarily identified ratings/skills, or petty officers, and they don't appear to have been mandatory-- or, at least, it was up to the sailors to sew on their own badges, and some of them seem not to have bothered!
 
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#12
Col. Mark F. Jenkins, if I could ask your advice sir, if you were an artist illustrating a book about Civil War uniforms who is now at the part where he's drawing the U.S. Navy uniforms, which way would you draw it? Would you have for example a boatswain's mate with the specialty badge shown above on one sleeve and the petty officer's badge on the opposite sleeve, or with only the boatswain's specialty badge and no PO's badge or conversely only the PO's badge on one sleeve and nothing to immediately identify him as a boatswain? I just want to get it 100% accurate and represent the average Civil War sailor if I can.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#13
Please don't call me "Colonel" or "Sir." I was a buck sergeant and darn proud of that. :wink: My wife's the colonel! (Lt. Col., anyway...)

I'm honestly not sure what to tell you. There are a number of photos showing large numbers of sailors, most of whom don't appear to have anything on their sleeves, but of course they'd be the majority in any event. Most of the uniform regs I've seen are all about officers. :unsure: I think there are a few naval reenactors who pop in and out every so often-- they might be able to give you better info.
 
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#15
Folks I think I may have found the answer. On page 166 of Ron Fields's excellent Bluejackets: Uniforms of the United States Navy in the Civil War Period, 1852-1865 (wonderful book, oh my gosh this is the definitive reference for the U.S. Navy in the Civil War's uniforms, profusely illustrated and well worth the price, should be on every Civil War enthusiast's bookshelf if they're interested in how the Navy looked in the War) it has a great photo of a petty officer in a white summer jumper and on his left sleeve is the generic petty officer's badge and on the other sleeve is what appears to be some sort of specialty badge. So I would presume that the answer is this: some boatswain's mates, gunner's mates, carpenter's mates etc. wore only the generic petty officer's badge on the proper sleeve (right for some specialties, left for others) as is seen in many photos but others (maybe not the majority but some) made the effort to put on the opposite sleeve a specialty badge showing what they did as a job.
 



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