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Uniform Recommendations:
The 33rd Alabama and the 6th Indiana served in the western theater of operations during the war. We chose to portray these two regiments not only because they were good outfits but also because they were western outfits. Historically, two thirds of the infantry regiments from Alabama served in the western theater, while only one third were sent to Virginia. Geographically, most of the reenactments we attend take place in Alabama and the surrounding states (part of the original western theater of operations), so our choice was only natural.

These two outfits were very typical of the armies they were part of. Accordingly, our impression is generic rather than specific in order to be representative of the western soldiers, who were present during the campaigns we reenact. In so doing we are less likely to mislead the public with an impression that may only apply to certain conditions or circumstances. For example, the 21st Alabama Regiment fought in the battle of Shiloh, but then spent most of the rest of the war in the forts protecting Mobile Bay. Because of their special circumstances, their uniforms, arms, and equipment would probably not be representative of the regiments in the Army of Tennessee.

Our uniforms and equipment are representative of the western soldiers during the period between the Fall of 1862 and the Spring of 1865. This is due to the fact that the biggest variations in uniforms and equipment were seen during the first year of the war (especially in the Confederate army). Uniform variation continued but to a much lesser degree during the rest of the war, which was when the major fighting (and therefore the vast majority of reenactments) took place anyway.


In the past, choosing the proper Confederate uniform has not been an easy task due to the scarcity of research in that area. Everyone has always wanted to know who led the charge, but few cared to find out what kind of material or pattern of clothing was worn by the men, who made the first charge, or any details about the equipment they carried, or what kind of tent they slept in the night before the charge, or if they even had a tent to sleep in, etc. Much has been learned in the past few years however, due in large part to the research initiated and/or carried out by reenactors as well as professionals, who believed that attention to detail is crucial to the proper interpretation of history.


Confederate "Standardization":
We know that the Confederate States Quartermaster Department was able to supply its soldiers a great deal better than was previously believed. However, due to the nineteenth century fledgling Southern textile industry, different clothing depots issue different patterns of uniforms. Furthermore, the mills used different shades of dyes from time to time, some of which faded faster than others did. This meant that variations in central government issue uniforms were common.

Adding to the variation was the fact that the supply was never able to meet the demand. Therefore, when government clothing and equipment was received in the field, it was issued to the men, who needed it most. This meant that there would be differences between those wearing newly issued uniforms or parts of uniforms as opposed to those, who were still wearing the older clothing and equipment.

Shortages also meant that the Southern soldiers’ clothing was supplemented a great deal by the folks back home, and to a lesser extent by official state issue. This caused more uniform variation because of the differences in the uniform patterns used by the Confederate States Central Government, the folks back home, and the states. Therefore, one could summarize by saying that the Confederate soldiers were well-uniformed but not uniform.

What all this means to you as a reenactor is that as soon as you can, you should purchase some Confederate-issue clothing and accoutrements and/or some civilian made clothing to more closely resemble the typical soldier of the Army of Tennessee.


Caveat Emptor:
There are many contemporary "sutlers", who produce authentic Civil war uniforms and equipment. Unfortunately, there are many other sutlers, who will sell items, which are partially or totally incorrect, due partly to lack of research, and partly because as long as reenactors (who have not done their research either) will buy what sutlers are selling, they will continue to sell it! Another factor to keep in mind is that "cheaper" is usually not "better" when procuring a historical impression. Finding a bargain is great, but not at the expense of authenticity.

"FARBE" (far be it from me to look like that!) is a reenacting term for someone who might be a nice guy, but for whatever reason does not wear authentic gear. Farbes are a detriment to the hobby because they trivialize the nature of living history. Reenacting is of course a hobby, but unlike most hobbies, this one demands responsibility out of respect for our ancestors and the important legacy they left us as Americans. Being responsible also helps to reveal the truth in what has always been a controversial period in our nation’s history.

Most reenactors order the bulk of their basic gear. Some men have been known to purchase their entire uniform in person at a large event. Probably the best thing to do is to order those items that you are sure are correct and get the other items at a reenactment with the help of a "veteran" from the unit.

The 33rd Alabama has two sets of uniforms and equipment, which we lend to men, who want to join, but are not quite sure if this hobby will be worth the expense it takes to get outfitted properly. If you are really serious, we will outfit you for a reenactment. Be forewarned however! It is a rare occurrence for a recruit to fail to join after participating with us in the field. Reenacting is that much fun!


Recommended Uniforms and Equipment

Optional Uniforms and Equipment

Items That Should Be Used Properly, or Avoided Altogether


Bivouac   Reenacting   Enlistment    Sutlers   Events   Gallery   Histories   Reconnoiter   The Cleburne