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"Getting Started"

Uniform Guidelines for Military Re-enacting with the 41st OVI

by Dan McClory

Not too long ago, I started gathering up the equipment I needed in order to begin marching with the 41st OVI, so I know how it feels to be in your shoes. At that time, I had absolutely nothing. You may have already started the process of collecting your kit, in which case you can ignore the parts of this which you've already covered, but in case you're starting with nothing, like I did, I'll cover all of the bases. Note that this page is only intended for those taking the field as an infantryman - if you need civilian gear, you'll need to consult one of the other members of the 41st. You should also note that your humble author is no expert, just a man who made enough mistakes to learn a thing or two; so you should do some research of your own (and let me know what you find out).

The Basic Kit

To appear on the field, you'll need to at least get your hands on a basic uniform, a few accoutrements, and a rifle. While the 41st OVI is not a "hardcore" unit (at least we don't think of ourselves that way) we do try to be reasonably authentic. Our basic rule of thumb is that if the equipment appears identical to authentic gear from 10 feet away, then it's acceptable. If you chose to aquire more authentic gear, that's your choice, and we'll applaud you. But, please, don't show up in a polyester Halloween costume you got from K-mart. Keep that in mind as you read on.

List of basic kit items (click on the highlight words or scroll down for more information):

  1. .58 calibre, three banded, 1861-style Springfield Rifle (reproduction strongly recommended)
  2. Four button dark blue wool flannel Federal sack coat
  3. Federal sky blue kersey wool infantry issue trousers
  4. White or off-white three button pullover shirt, Federal issue style (muslin or wool)
  5. Federal kepi style cap, dark blue wool (avoid brass letters, numbers, and any decoration)
  6. Black Federal issue "brogan" bootees (heel plates strongly recommended, but pegged soles are optional)
  7. Grey or brown wool socks (the simpler the better)
  8. Black leather cartridge box with shoulder strap and two tin liners
  9. Black leather cap box
  10. Black leather waist belt with standard Federal issue "US" brass buckle
  11. Round, Federal issue metal canteen with wool cover (brown, grey or blue, your choice)
  12. Black tarred canvas haversack
  13. Braces (a.k.a. suspenders) made of cotton or linen with leather ends for buttoning to your pants

For a list of general merchandise sutlers, scroll to the bottom of the page. Special purpose niche sutlers are listed below along with more information on each piece of equipment.  While these sutlers often have very good quality goods, they are listed here primarily as a source of information, and not necessarily as a recommendation to buy there.

Now, for the full story in painful detail, read on...

Other Items

"Getting Started" and other equipment web sites:

Resources in Print:

Not everything is on the Internet; in fact, some of the best sources for information are in print form. So subscribe to or read some of the following as soon as you can and you're likely to make better choices for your equipment.

General Sutlers:

The sutlers listed below carry items that are generally of good to excellent quality. Even the best general sutlers don't usually provide goods as authentic as the specialists (that's why the specialists are in business), but the ware they sell comes at a reasonable price and is usually more than "good enough". So, if you aren't necessarily bothered by stitch counts or getting the exact tooling marks on your leathers, these sutlers may be for you. Beware, however, that even among these "grade A" sutlers, certain items may not be accurate, so it's good to do some research before you buy.

Package Deals:

To get a quick, low-cost start, these packages are a good bet. The equipment sold is of moderate to good quality, and reasonably accurate (though some portions of the package deal may be of greater or lesser quality).

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Date last updated 03/05/00

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