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Since we do both Union and Confederate, take a lesson in history. A great many of the Confederate soldiers used captured Union equipment. Buy your Union uniform first and add to it the Confederate coat and hat. That will give you both uniforms and get you started.
• Coat: Union: Blue, four-button sack coat
Confederate: Bummer/Sack, five-button, jeancloth, black trim
• Pants: Union: Sky blue wools
Confederate: Black duck
• Braces: To hold up you britches
• Shirt: Your choice Shirts were not issued on either side. Calicos, muslin, just about any period shirt is ok, stay away from “firemen’s” shirts
Things you can add later on down the road are:
• Vests, cravat, gloves, etc… the list goes on
We suggest the kepi or forage hat for your Union impression,
and a slouch hat for Confederate.
There are cheap ones and expensive ones. You have to
have one. We suggest one of medium price.
As a strategically dismounted cavalryman, you will be doing a lot of walking. A pair of comfortable period brogans is your best bet. Later, a pair of cavalry boots can be added for dress and other occasions. Boots always need to be tried on, so it’s best to buy them from a Sutler at an event. They are seldom cheap unless made so. Socks, wool socks from a Sutler are OK, modern wool blend hiking boot socks that wick moisture work better. They look fairly period, and keep the feet healthier.
3. Belt and Accoutrements:
A good saddle leather belt is required, remember, black works both ways, and with a two-prong garrison style buckle, you won't have to change it out. A cartridge box, and a cap pouch are also required. We do a lot of firing on the field, so an infantry style cartridge box is best, as they hold more rounds.
4. Haversack: Natural of tarred duck
Contents to acquire… mug, plate, knife and fork.
5. Carbine, Pistol and Saber: In that order.
There are some very expensive carbines on the market. Remember, you will use this carbine and it will not stay pretty. Get a moderately priced one unless you don't care about price. Sawed-off shotguns are acceptable, and they are a less expensive option. However, some events, especially national ones, don't allow shotguns no matter how historically correct they are.
Buy a quality pistol as you will not be happy with a cheap one. Sooner or later, you will probably want to "Live Fire" it and cheap ones will not last. Buy pistols with steel frames not brass frames.
Sabers are the least important on our list. As strategically dismounted cavalry you wouldn’t have one on the battlefield. If you want one, a good medium price one will suffice. (don't get a cheapie with a nut on the end) and why pay through the nose for something you'll only use at... weddings?. On the field, the only people carrying one will be Officers.
6. Bedroll and Poncho:
A good heavy wool blanket to sleep on and under is essential. The poncho can be added later… usually at your first "wet" event.
If you have a family, you will have to consider a wall tent, if not, the standard tent of the unit is the A-frame. It will fit two people.
8. Homemade versus Sutlers:
Yes, if you have the ability and the time, there is a certain enjoyment that comes from using something you made with your own hands.
Buy quality once and have it last.
36th Texas Cavalry