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"Union cavalry pants - stripe or not" Topic

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Trajanus12 Mar 2013 8:24 a.m. PST

I'm having one of those – I know this, or do I? Moments.

Volunteer cavalry units, circa mid 1863. Yellow stripe down the leg, or too many John Wayne movies?

Asking as I've seen both.

Mapleleaf12 Mar 2013 8:50 a.m. PST

Most contemporary illustrations show a thin yellow stripe as well a modern artists




bracken Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2013 8:53 a.m. PST

Thin yellow stripe, not the real wide John Wayne type!

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2013 8:56 a.m. PST

The yellow stripe down the trousers was for NCOs – hence the stripe down the sergeants shown above. Stripes on the trousers were supposed to be in branch colours, although infantry sergeants frequently wore plain pants

Private had no stripes on their pants – further to the US Army regs


GROSSMAN Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2013 9:21 a.m. PST

Yes, because they look cool.

HistoryPhD12 Mar 2013 10:27 a.m. PST

Officers had to supply their own uniforms so a lot of leeway was allowed vis a vis what the regs mandated. So make them wide if you like them that way. The ACW is a uniform detail painter's dream. There's pretty much no "wrong" (within reason)

donlowry12 Mar 2013 11:06 a.m. PST

Officers' stripes were supposed to be quite thin, a believe about 1/4"; corporals wider, sergeants even wider, and, as Frederick says, privates no stripes at all. I believe this was modified after the war, which is where the wider stripes of the old western movies come from. Stripes, chevrons, officers' shoulder straps, etc. were in arm-of-service color: infantry blue, cavalry yellow, artillery red (in the pre-war Regular army: dragoons orange, mounted rifles green).

FireZouave12 Mar 2013 12:09 p.m. PST

Privates had no stripes during that period! Period!

Old Contemptibles12 Mar 2013 12:21 p.m. PST

As far as I know volunteer cavalry were suppose to have the same uniform as the regulars. This is my go to book on U.S. Cavalry. Highly recommended.


KeithRK12 Mar 2013 12:48 p.m. PST

Privates no stripe, corporals 1/2" stripe, sergeants 1 1/2" stripe. The stripes should be of worsted wool lace, down and over the outer seam. Color of the respective branch.

Trajanus12 Mar 2013 1:45 p.m. PST


I agree with 28mmMan, a few casts will be reward enough for me.

As for multiple variants, I've never done that all that much. My stuff is usually one of a kind stuff, but always with the hope that if the figure proves popular the manufacturer would send me a few casts to re-pose and such.



The few multiple poses I've done have been "naked" dollies, that I hope to dress and arm and return for casting the final unit(s).



PS. By the way, here are the previous threads on the tripedal dollies:
TMP link
TMP link

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Mar 2013 4:15 p.m. PST

Officers trousers had a welt rather than a stripe down the outer seam.

Trajanus13 Mar 2013 4:30 a.m. PST

In case you are wondering. The "tripedal dollies" stuff above is the TMP bug not me. I gave up playing with dollies years ago!

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2013 10:54 a.m. PST

What Scott says. Officers had a welt of branch color sewn into the outer seam of the trousers, about 1/8" wide. For infantry, this would be a dark blue welt if on sky blue trousers, and a light blue welt if on dark trousers.

For staff officers, including medical officers, generals, etc, the welt was of gold.


donlowry14 Mar 2013 9:47 a.m. PST

Define "welt" please.

Ceterman14 Mar 2013 10:27 a.m. PST

I go with Grossman!

KeithRK14 Mar 2013 11:40 a.m. PST

Welting is a folded piece of cloth set in to the seam of the trousers with just the folded edge showing.

The third picture down shows welting on a pair of officer's trousers. (photos courtesy of Stoneybrook Co.)


This differs from the trouser stripe in NCO trousers which is simply worsted wool tape sewn over the top of the trousers.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2013 3:50 a.m. PST

This is from the diary of James Kendall Hosmer,
Corporal, 52nd Massachussetts Volunteer Infantry,
Grover's Division.

He is writing his impression of the Union army as
it advances along the road towards Port Hudson,
March, 1863 sorry, no technical details available:

"Ahead ride the cavalry, yellow trimmings about their collars, yellow welts about the seams of their jackets at the back, and stripes down the pantaloons."

The OB for Banks' forces at Port Hudson show no
regular cavalry. All the cavalry is volunteer units
and includes Rhode Island, Louisiana, New York,
Illinois, Massachussetts and Wisconsin (Grierson's
Brigade of cavalry, so called in the OB, but looks
more like a division).

This specific entry is dated March 14, 1863.

Trajanus15 Mar 2013 5:05 a.m. PST

Now that's interesting about the jackets and the photos of the pants.

Would this infer that "welt" is similar to "piped" detail on European uniforms of the 19th Century

donlowry15 Mar 2013 10:34 a.m. PST

Thanks for the photos! Learn something new every day.

BTW, I believe there was one difference between the jackets of volunteer cavalry and regular cavalry: The colars of the Regulars had two buttons with "lace" (as seen in the top picture) and the volunteers had only one.

KeithRK15 Mar 2013 10:51 a.m. PST

Unless a particular volunteer unit had a uniquie uniform, such as zouave regiments, the majority of volunteer units wore the exact came uniform that the regulars did. They all received their clothing from the same quartermaster department.

The US QMD did not have two different types of mounted services jacket, one for volunteers and a different type for regulars. They would be given the same type of jacket.

Of course, that's not to say that the single button variety didn't exist, it did, and some appear to have been made by the arsenal and others appear to have been altered after issue. However this appears to be a variant. They wouldn't have been intended for issue only to volunteers.

In fact it would be quite common for cavalrymen to wear the standard 4 button sack coat.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2013 1:30 p.m. PST

There were states, such as New York, which issued their
own uniforms, mostly modeled after the USQM issued
items, but with variations.

donlowry16 Mar 2013 8:21 p.m. PST

When Wilson formed the Cavalry Corps of Sherman's Military Division he ordered that each division choose to wear either the sack coat or the shell jacket, but not mix them.

Keith, I have to agree that what you say about the shell jackets makes more sense than what I repeated (don't remember where I read it). Perhaps the pre-war style had been 2 buttons/lace on the collar and during the war they switched to the 1 button/lace style. So pre-existing Regular regiments would still be wearing the old style and new volunteers the new. But that's just a guess. Of course what had been the 1st and 2nd Dragoons would have been wearing orange piping and the Mounted Rifles green until just before the war when they were designated the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Cavalry. I wonder when they were issued new uniforms.

donlowry16 Mar 2013 8:26 p.m. PST

Regarding the painting labeled "Anderson's Cavalry": The red blanket was not regulation, but might have been something a particular regiment or company acquired before being issued the standard horse blanket, which was blue with an orange stripe (a hold over from the dragoons). Also, note that he has no buttons or lace on his collar. Also, the yellow piping on the top of his kepi is not standard either, but might have been a peculiarity of this particular unit.

number424 Mar 2013 12:11 p.m. PST

Enlisted trousers came in large bales, 3 different standard sizes to each bale, 50% being medium, the rest large or small. None of them had stripes – if you got promoted to NCO rank, you had the stripe sewn on later. The wide "John Wayne" officer stripes (as opposed to piped welts) are 1880's regulations, as are the yellow lined overcoat capes.

Whatever fancy volunteer uniforms a unit may have started with, resupply was from the regular QM depot chain, so regular uniforms were all you got. Two button collars and all.

JimDuncanUK27 May 2021 7:12 a.m. PST

I always understood that privates were allowed a narrow stripe of service colour which they had to pay for themselves. Most (if not all) privates couldn't afford the stripes so went without.

Does anyone have references to support my statement or am I a bit out of touch.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP27 May 2021 7:28 a.m. PST

Sorry, no stripes on privates' pants. At least not per the regulations.

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2021 7:51 a.m. PST

The stripe for NCO's is called a ribbon in some things I have read. That's a pretty good description. The ribbon was sewn over the seam of the trousers.

The welt for officers is part of the seam rather than sewn over it. Hence it is much narrower than the NCOs' ribbon.

No stripes on the privates' trousers.

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