2nd Vermont Infantry at Fort Marcy in the Defences of Washington, September 1861

By Paul A. Boccadoro

 

The Vermont Brigade built Ft. Marcy and nearby Ft. Ethan Allen during Fall-Winter 1861.

UNIFORM

The 2nd and 3rd VT came to Washington wearing their state issued gray uniforms (photo here), and they became heavily worn from the elements and fatigue duty -- VT buttons from their state uniforms were dug on site when the FBI searched for Foster's death bullet. The 3rd VT (building Ft. Marcy) did not begin to receive new Army blue uniforms until Oct-Nov, but the 2nd VT (building Ft. Ethan Allen and helping on Marcy) began receiving some Army blue at the end of Sept., thus uniforms would be a mix of gray and blue uniform pieces to represent the transition of state issue to Fed issue. Here's a quote from Vermont in the Civil War (by George Grenville Benedict, 1886, pp. 95-96):

"During the last week of September, the [2nd VT] men were cheered by the arrival of the Fourth and Fifth Vermont regiments, which went into camp close by them; but in other respects their condition was not cheerful. They needed their lost overcoats in the autumn fogs and chilly nights. The cold rain storms beat through their old and thin tents, and their uniforms, faded by the summer sun and worn with fatigue duty, matched their thin faces. About this time partial supplies of army clothing were secured from the Government, and the army blue began to mingle with with the gray in the ranks; but the supply was insufficient, for the Government had more men to clothe than it had uniforms, and the sick roll became large before the needs of the men were supplied."

– Jackets - from the photo above, the VT frock was quite unique (VT buttons, gray broadcloth, epaulets, odd cuffs, etc). So unless you just happen to have a VT frock coat, preference is Federal frock coat (per photos), and sack coats are OK. CS frocks would not be appropriate as the VT frocks appear to be quite different.

–Trousers - There would be a mix of pant colors between gray and dark blue Federal trousers. For these pruposes, CW gray trousers would be alright.

– Headwear - Likewise, there would be a mix of cap colors. Gray kepis would be seen, and with mention that their state uniforms were faded, thus faded gray/butternutish is good. Or wear a US forage cap (per photos). Brass 2 and/or F on either type of cap.

– Underclothing - mix of Federal issue and civilian. From the book: "It was not easy, however, to provide supplies upon the instant. . .the suffering of the men was in part alleviated by private supplies of comforters, underclothing and warm stockings sent by their friends at home. . ."

– Officers - they were probably also transitioning from gray to blue, but as a full uniform since their items were purchased, not piecemeal like the enlisted men. I don't have any documentation what the state ones looked like, but a full gray uniform or a full blue uniform would both be completely acceptable.

 

EQUIPMENT

– Mix of US blankets and civilian blankets/coverlets/quilts, per the above quote, ". . .private supplies of comforters . . ."

– Smoothside canteen preferably with leather strap, usual haversack, knapsack, and ground cloth. No bullseye canteens.

– No shelter tents.

– Typical US leather accoutrements, early patterns preferred

– Enfields preferred as they received them in August, replacing their 1842s (which is preferred next). 1861s are OK. The regiment was on constant picket duty facing CS scouts and small forces.

– Federal issue type shovels, picks, axes, hatchets, saws, etc.