Historian makes presentation on Confederate gear

By Rhonda Florian
Reader Submitted
May 12, 2009

“The Confederate army was not trying to make a fashion statement,” explained Arthur Green of West Long Branch. “They were focused on utilitarian purposes. Uniforms were kept simple because of limited materials available and to make production easier.”

A living historian and Civil War scholar, Arthur Green is Commander of 1st Confederate Battalion Tilghman’s Brigade, a Civil War reenactment group. Mr. Green gave his presentation, “What the Boys Wore and Carried,” to the Isaac W. K. Handy Chapter 2658 of United Daughters of the Confederacy on April 25 at the Abraham Staats House in South Bound Brook, NJ.

“Except for Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond and the armory in Harper’s Ferry, the Confederacy really didn’t have many factories,” Mr. Green said as he went on to describe the cottage industry developed by the Confederacy to produce uniforms. The fabric was cut at a central depot. Then the pieces were shipped out all over the South to groups of women, or sewing circles, who sewed them together. Shirts and socks were produced in the same manner. In addition to clothing, the sewing circles also produced flags for units, and they rolled bandages and picked lint from linen to produce medical bandages.

“Most Southern civilians were involved in the war effort. Women and children worked at arsenals producing ammunition. They were very committed to protecting their homes from invasion,” said Green.

On display was an impressive collection of authentic Confederate artifacts along with some high-end reproductions. “I started collecting back when nobody wanted this stuff,” said Green, as he lovingly displayed a sweat-stained kepi hat once worn by a Confederate soldier. “Now, you could put a down payment on a house with a Richmond Type III jacket.” Authentic items on display included an Enfield rifle, an early Confederate veteran’s jacket, a blanket, a canteen, eating utensils, shaving gear, a Bible, and a Southern Cross of Honor, the award given by United Daughters of the Confederacy to Confederate veterans for valor during the war. Reproduction items included an Isaac and Campbell knapsack and an accouterment belt with a cartridge box, cap box, and bayonet scabbard.

“I think it’s vital to preserve these artifacts so we can understand our history,” said Green. “That’s the only way we can truly understand our ancestors and how they lived and died.”

The United Daughters of the Confederacy is a nonprofit organization. It is the oldest patriotic organization in the United States. Its objectives are Historical, Educational, Benevolent, Memorial and Patriotic.

Any lady with a Southern heritage who would like to join UDC should contact Rhonda Florian at floriangel1@comcast.net.

Copyright © 2009 Asbury Park Press

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