Union Army Uniforms and Insignia of the Civil War

Enlisted Men's Uniforms

Fifth Corps Badge

Unknown Private in Frock Coat
Fifth Corps Badge and Eagle Pin

This unidentified private is wearing a frock coat with a light blue vest underneath and light blue trousers. No clues exist that would identify his branch, but the vast majority of period soldiers served in infantry. Mounted soldiers would wear a jacket rather than a frock coat.

Vests were not issued items and are mentioned in the regulations only for wear by officers. Enlisted men who wished to wear vests could purchase them privately. In an era when the average room temperature was much less than today extra layers of clothing were desirable. His top button is buttoned. The regulations call for the top button to be buttoned when on duty. The purpose of the regulation was that buttoning all the buttons on a uniform coat was considered a proper soldierly appearance and the author of the regulation intended that soldier not leave the top one unbuttoned. The curious result was that soldiers were able to violate the sprit of the law but not the letter by only buttoning the top button. In this case the man has only the top button buttoned, but his vest not a shirt shows as a result.

On his right breast he wears two badges. The upper one is a generic patriotic American eagle pin. The lower appears to be the Maltese Cross of the Fifth Army Corps. The Fifth Corps served with the Army of the Potomac and among its commanders were such familiar names as Joseph Hooker, George G. Meade, George Sykes and Gouverneur Warren. The badge was adopted on March 21, 1863. Enlisted men were issued cloth badges for wear on hats, but often worn privately purchased metallic badges on the uniform coat. These are commonly worn on the left breast, but it this case the soldier chose to wear it on the right. In many cases the soldier's name and unit are engraved on the face.

MORE: Designs of Corps Badges
Army of Potomac Corps Badges 1863A
Second Corps Badge
Sixth Corps Badge
18th Corps Badge
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