What will you need?
Uniforms should be purchased first. The preferred uniform ( right ) is a New York State jacket, dark blue, 100-percent wool, sky- blue trimmed epaulettes with New York State buttons, and a blue trimmed buttoned belt loop. These jackets are lined. You want the jacket to cover the top few buttons on your pants. The jacket has an 8 button front, stand-up, lighter blue-trimmed collar. A shell jacket, which essentially is a state jacket minus the epaulettes, trim, and belt loop, is acceptable as an alternate jacket for non-79th events, etc. Some troops also have a “sack coat”, a 4 button, generic Federal jacket for attending Western events as non-79th. This is optional.When purchasing a uniform jacket, it is always a good idea to purchase where you can try it on. However, that is not always practical, so if you purchase online, most sutlers ( vendors ) have websites with printable measurement charts. To ensure a good fit, it is a good idea to have a tailor or someone with like knowledge measure you. The jacket should fit loose, but not be baggy. You should be able to lift your arms without the jacket feeling tight. Remember, you will have your field gear over your jacket, and the straps can be binding.Also, if it is a warm event, you don’t want the jacket too tight, you want there to be some air circulation.
The pants ( right ) are also wool, sky-blue, button fly. Do not buy the same waist size you wear in modern pants, buy at least one size bigger if not two, depending on your comfort. They should come to above your waist. You will be moving around, bending and perhaps crawling, so you want them to be loose and comfortable
Again, try and buy them in person. They should be loose fitting, not tight. Most pairs have a drawstring in the back for adjusting the size. This reenactor is also wearing a shell jacket.)
In the picture at right is a pair of Civil War military shoes ( brogans ). They are made of leather. You will also need to get heel plates, the horseshoe shaped plate nailed to the heel of the bottom shoe ( most sutlers will install these for you, for a minimal charge ). Hobnails ( little metal cleats to improve traction, like on the bottom shoe ) are optional and can be installed by a sutler. Brogans don’t have much grip, so hobnails are a good idea. Good quality brogans can be a little expensive, but nothing will ruin a weekend like aching feet. When you buy your shoes, oil them with Neatsfoot oil periodically and wear them around the house, they will break in faster. We will accept gray wool hiking socks, as long as they are solid color.
Underwear ( drawers ) is cotton, long legs, with a drawstring in the back and button fly. Shirts come in different varieties, from the woolen “issue” shirts, to shirts of different patterns that were sent to troops from home. What kind of shirt you have is up to you. Again, we ask that you show a member what shirt you are looking at, as there are some for sale that are not correct.
At right is a forage cap. Made of dark blue wool, the top of the cap is round and slopes over the front. The top should flop over and not stand up straight, if it stands up it is too small. Leather bill with leather chin strap held in place with two brass buttons.
The black brimmed hat in the image at left is an example of an alternate/optional form of headgear, for Western Theater events ( Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and vicinity ), when the 79th is taking part in events like Chickamauga, or the unit is not portraying the 79th. Also, this type of hat is useful in rain. Caps, like the forage cap and kepi are preferred.
A word of caution about hats like the one above, you don’t want a floppy, unshaped hat, with the brim drooping down. Federal troops, when they wore hats rather than caps, wore formed, stiff hats