Blankets: Federal issue types of 100% wool and/or Confederate produced or imported     wool, jean cloth or civilian styles acceptable. Avoid wool/poly mix or surplus blankets with obvious modern military markings.

·         Federal 1858 pattern; 100% wool, gray with black stripes near ends, usually encountered with US embroidered in the center, approximately 84”x 60”.

·         Federal 1861 pattern “Emergency Issue”; similar to 1858 but of tan color with brown end stripes, of slightly lighter weight material, approximately 72”x 60”.

·         British import; 100% wool, solid almost white natural color or with blue end stripes.

·         Confederate manufactured wool or jean cloth.

·         Civilian period type blankets, coverlets, quilts or carpet blankets. 


Gum blankets, Oil cloths & Ponchos: This is the period rainwear meant to protect the Soldier from inclement weather. They were also utilized as a “Ground Cloth” to provide a water resistant barrier to prevent blankets or clothing from becoming wet while sleeping on the ground. Ponchos were essentially gum blankets or oil cloths manufactured with a flapped or hemmed hole in the center to facilitate wearing around ones neck. While originally intended for cavalry troops, ponchos were widely used by the infantry.

·         Gum Blanket, made of gutta-percha or India rubber coated cloth with small brass grommets, approximately 72”x 48”.

·         Oil Cloth, made of a linseed oil mixture coated cloth to repel water. Grommets may be either brass or sewn, approximately 72”x 48”.


            Shelter Halves: Federal Issue patterns made from 100% cotton drill or duck with tin or    bone buttons, reinforced corners and sewn (not metal) grommets in issue size of 64” long by 60” wide. Shelter halves are currently reproduced in one of two variations.  

·         Type IIa; constructed of three panels seamed together vertically. The center panel is a narrow section joined to the two outer sections to achieve the regulation length. A variant of this pattern is attributed to the Cincinnati Depot having the three sections seamed together horizontally. 

·         Type IIIa; constructed of two equal width panels seamed together vertically to achieve the regulation length.


                Tentage: Proper tents were not carried by the Soldiers themselves but were transported  with the Regimental or Company property on the wagons that accompanied the Army or,    “Baggage Trains”. They were common to the early war period, at camps of instructions,    in garrison or in winter quarters. It was realized rather quickly that they became an   impediment to Army’s on campaign. Subsequently their use while on campaign were             usually reserved for officers or staff functions, while the common Soldier relied on the      easily transported and quick to set up shelter half. Three major variations encountered             are:

·         Sibley tent; of conical design, stands about twelve feet high and eighteen feet in diameter and is supported by a central pole. It can comfortably house about a dozen men.

·         A Frame or Wedge tent; the civil war standard was approximately 6’ high, 6’ deep, and 8’ wide at ground level with flaps at one end for entrance. Modern versions are available in larger sizes.

·         Wall tent; most often utilized by officers, approximately 7’ high, 10'6" wide, and 12' deep. Usually used with an attached fly in the front of approximately 12’ by 12’.  


            Mess Gear: This section will only cover the items commonly carried by the individual  Soldier for the cooking or eating of his rations. The unit owns several large coffee pots,     skillets, pans, etc. that are shared by all members. This is tin ware; notice the key word is      Tin, not enameled “speckle ware” and not stainless steel. Stainless items are not authentic and are frequently more expensive and usually manufactured to a lower standard than correctly made tin items.

·         Tin cup; the 1858 regulation cup is 4” by 4” with a wire reinforced rim and a handle ttached via solder, wire loops and a rivet. Will hold approximately 24 ounces and you can cook in it. Smaller civilian versions of around 3 ½“ by 3” are common and hold approximately 12 ounces.

·         Plate; issued plates were approximately 10” in diameter and slightly dished.

·         Canteen half; a popular and authentic option to the issued plate. They were made by heating a leaking canteen to remove the solder and utilize the two halves as plates. Their shape makes them useful as a bowl as well as a plate. Attaching a piece of wire where the spout formally resided will allow the passage of a stick enabling its use as a field expedient frying pan.

·         Boilers; usually made from tin cans by attaching a wire bail to facilitate hanging over a fire to boil coffee, beans, salt pork, etc. and minimize burning ones hands.

·         Utensils; (knife/fork/spoon) commonly available from most sutlers in a variety of authentic types. If you carry a pocket knife you can forgo a table knife and just use a spoon and fork to lighten your load. Period silver plated originals can frequently be found at flea markets and antique stores for bargain prices if the plating is starting to wear through.


While not all inclusive, the previous sections have hopefully given you the details to look for when buying authentic items to improve or, build your impression upon. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the authenticity committee or your mentor. 


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