64th-Infantryman

 

The Uniform of the 1st Battalion, Yates Sharp Shooters (December 1861-Late 1862)
by John Thurston

The initial uniform issued to the 64th Illinois Volunteer Infantry (at that time known as the 1st Battalion, Yates Sharp Shooters) at enlistment, in December 1861, was the State Blue Fatigue Uniform. This consisted of:

  • Dark Blue Jacket: New York style blue shell jacket, of satinette material, with nine buttons. This jacket also had shoulder straps, belt loops and a pocket on the left breast. Certainly not all Illinois jackets had the piping and the shoulder strap as certain pictures of 64th personnel shows them without it.

  • Federal Style Bummer (blue Forage Cap)

  • Light blue pants

  • Overcoats issued in the fall of 1861 were government pattern of sky blue kersey

  • Regular issue frock coats were purchased directly by officers

Illinois initially contained no arms factories and hence most accouterments worn by troops had to be imported. Pictures of units mustered in around the same time show standard issue Federal accouterments [Belt, haversack, packs, ammo pouch, cap pouch, canteens, bayonet frog]. There were some accouterments [cartridge and cap boxes] manufactured by contractors in Illinois later [H. Head in Quincy for one] though.

As born out by photos of other Illinois units, this style uniform was popular with the Illinois troops throughout the war, in lieu of the federally issued patterns of uniforms [the 17th Illinois had them into 1863, although slouch hats had replaced the bummers]. These state-supplied uniforms were of better quality than the Federally issued uniforms. Even though they cost more, they were still in demand, even after the state stopped being responsible for uniform procurement. The Federal government took over supplying the Illinois troops on July 1862 with uniforms and equipment, but the state still supplied some jackets and such up to the mustering of the 131st Infantry Regiment in 1862.

The 64th began to receive US regulation clothing in the spring of 1862. The existing pictures available on members from the 64th [various companies] show them wearing frock coats [officers and enlisted men], bummer caps and vests; but the time of when the pictures were taken is not known. We do have one picture of an individual from Company D in the shell jacket.

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