Civil War Uniforms: How to Pick the Right Colors for Your Jacket and Trousers

1. There seems to be a lot of discussion on color and fabric. The most accurate statement on this issue that I can make was there was a great variety of colors and fabrics.

2. I personally believe that much of the renowned butternut look was due to unstable dyes that faded quickly.

3. Many of the items that may have been gray quickly turned to shades of ranging from light tan through a brownish green. Some reenactors love the butternut look and that is perfectly ok, but I wouldn’t overdo it.

4. I try to include some gray in my uniform whether it is hat, jacket or pants. I feel like the all gray look or mostly gray look gives a better appearance than the all butternut look.

5. I recommend staying with a gray jacket and kepi. Add butternut pants. I feel kepis and jackets look better in gray. This is just my personal preference from the research I have done. There is no hard and fast rule about this.

6. For example, if you want to have a butternut jacket, I personally feel that a gray hat or pants goes well because it blends in better with the other reenactors in the line.

7. If you look through Troiani’s prints, which are closely, researched most of the men were in gray with some butternut items here and there.

8. This is one area where original photos do not do you much good since they are in black and white. Uniforms in museums are your best source. Troiani’s prints are reliable since he is considered to be one of the foremost experts in Civil War Uniforms.

9. In his paintings, the vast majority of soldiers were in gray. They tried to have gray uniforms as best they could. The color of the Confederate army was gray and they tried to achieve that look whenever possible.

10. But the shortage of dye and the instability of the dye was always a problem in keeping all uniforms gray. Natural dyes like sumac and walnut were relied on to some extent. Sumac for example starts out mostly gray and quickly turns to tan or brown like the hat shown above.

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