Who are you? What do you want to do? What do you want to achieve?
This is a demanding hobby, mentally and physically and financially. It draws people from every walk of life. What draws these people varies
The re-enacting hobby contains literally hundreds of niche impressions. The primary military impressions being Cavalry, Infantry, Artillery, Navy, and Medical. Additionally, there are many civilian impressions including washerwomen, blacksmiths, farriers, preachers, weavers, spinners, school marms, and more. Just as in the modern world, there was a wide range of possible vocations. The 11th Texas is primarily a Cavalry unit. There for most of the info primarily this site is devoted to Federal and Confederate Cavalry. We are also affiliated with Artillery and Civilian re-enacting groups.
If you wish to move up in this hobby (militarily), it takes three things, time, talent and treasure. Treasure means that as a leader, you must be able to support your own needs. Getting to and from events (and attending the majority of them), having your own gear and not having to borrow anything is just the beginning.
It takes years to understand the way the hobby works and how to best fit in. It also takes time (maybe a lifetime) to understand all the military (hobby and historical) aspects and be able to apply them effectively on a battlefield. It also helps to read extensively on the period to understand a wide variety of perspectives on issues and events, which occurred.
Talent is required to lead people effectively as a group. First, you must want to take on this responsibility. Second, you must be able to apply the golden rule and exhibit sound principles of leadership. You must also have exceptional communication and organizational skills, patience, fairness, and firmness. If you do not excel at these skills, you will not rise in the ranks.
What do you get out of this hobby? all kinds of people come and go in this hobby looking for a way to make it profitable. Few, if any, ever succeed. Personal fulfillment is the only reason to get involved and stay. It may be the learning experience, the ability to share the experience with others, a combination of both, or the friendships made and the camaraderie of camp. - Gen. Wil Gibson
What would dismounted Cavalry have looked like?
The 11th Texas is a strategically dismounted cavalry unit, which means we portray men who have had their horses taken away to be used as mounts for other units. This was a fairly common practice in the south as often units would lose some number of their horses to disease or battlefield injury without losing the riders. When this occurred, horses would be shifted around to ensure at least one unit would have its full complement of mounts.
However, the difference between a mounted and a dismounted unit in their appearance is far deeper than simply lacking a horse. More often than not the Confederacy was very short on cavalry type weapons. So when a unit was dismounted, they would generally have had their carbines and sabers taken away to be re-issued to other mounted troops, while the dismounted troopers would be given infantry type weapons. This change in armament combined with the general lack of high top cavalry boots among the enlisted and the expense (and rarity) of producing yellow dyed cavalry branch of service trim for uniforms means that the authentic Confederate dismounted cavalryman should look and in fact fight much more like an infantryman than his mounted or tactically dismounted brethren. These details are often overlooked, or entirely ignored by the bulk of dismounted cavalry re-enactors. As a club, we hope to improve the perception of dismounted cavalry in the hobby.
In the below impression guidelines you will find overviews of multiple impressions, these impressions vary in their authenticity based on cost, date, and region. If you have any questions about where best to find such items or about in depth information on the authenticity of a specific impression or piece of equipment, please feel free to contact Lt. Epps, our unit researcher.
Finally remember, having duplicate items of uniform or equipment is never a bad thing. We all have old coats, trousers, leathers, and hats that we no longer use personally, but lend out to new members of our hobby. Upgrading your own kit from "Sutlers row" grade to "Campaigner" grade allows you to in turn lend out your old gear, and thus pay forward the kindness shown to you by older members of the club.
These are items that, in many cases, can span all or most of your impressions. They also tend to be the items you can least afford to cheap out on. The only time quality shines through more is when buying trousers. We realize getting into this hobby can be a very daunting, expensive task requiring a huge amount of knowledge, always feel free to ask for help in person at events, or on the unit FaceBook page.
Black felt hats were most common, but brown wool felt hats in various styles are also acceptable, both throughout the war and will offer more protection from the sun than a Kepi or Forage cap. Unlike Caps or to use a re-enactorism Kepis, the plain full brim wool felt hat will work for the bulk of the war. I highly recommend Dirty Billys Bee Hive, or Don Smiths English import there are cheaper options, bot both these hats will look amazing and last a life time. If you really want a Cap take a look at some of the below impressions for appropriate options. Please avoid straw hats, they would have worn out quickly and were seen as worker or slave wear.
Brogans, Jefferson Boots, Walking Boots or Ankle Boots are much preferred. While we are a dismounted Cavalry unit, riding boots were rare, even in the north due to the amount of leather required. Buy high-quality boots and they will last your entire re-enacting career. We strongly recommend Fugawee or Missouri Boot and Shoe.
Shirts were not issued by the Confederacy and often wore out before being re-issued by the Federal government. This forced soldiers on both sides to procure civilian shirts on a regular basis. With this in mind, we accept most any shirt so long as the pattern and material is authentic to the period.
Suspenders made of canvas or cotton duck, NOT elastic. Smooth side Canteen with brown Jeans cover will work for both sides, avoid all other color covers. CS Drum Canteens and wooden Canteens are also acceptable, but will not work for a Federal impression. Leather gear may vary in style, we recommend US 1861 pattern or British import style sets, but within reason, any period set is acceptable for CS impressions. Cotton drawers are period underwear and by far the best chafing prevention available to the Civil War soldier. While not required they are HIGHLEY recommended for events with a large amount of walking.
During their time as a dismounted cavalry unit, it is most likely that the 11th would have had their sabers and carbines taken away. The Confederacy was very short on Cavalry weapons, so when a unit had their horses taken away they were generally re-issued infantry weapons. We recommend either Springfield or Enfield 3 band rifles, or Enfield navy pattern 2 band. We will accept Carbines and Musketoons as a lighter option or Zouave rifles for those in need of price cutting, but they are not preferred. Plains rifles, Hawkins, Shotguns and Flintlocks are NOT permissible for our Civil War impressions.
The commutation "uniform" is intended to be a relatively inexpensive entrance into the hobby. While some of the items in it may be used in other impressions, it should not be considered a place at which to stop progressing your impression. Some items recommended in such a "uniform" are very cheap to keep the initial cost low if cost is less of a concern, or if you have time to save up some money, we recommend skipping this uniform all togethor.
The commutation system was set up at the beginning of the war, to allow Confederate soldiers to be reimbursed for supplying their own clothing either from home or from tailors. This was most common prior to the Fall of 1862 at which point the Depot system came into full effect. These garments display a huge amount of variety in both the materials used and their construction. Some are simply civilian made coats and trousers sent from home, while others were made by tailors to resemble patterns used in government made uniforms.
If you would like to read further on what homemade garments would have been like, I highly recommend Fred Adolphus' article onThe Homemade Confederate Clothes of Burton Marchbanks, 30th Texas Cavalry.
We recommend either a shell jacket, sack coat or frock coat made of rough brown or gray Wool Jean cloth with no branch trim. Alternately civilian coats made of black or brown wool are acceptable. Many club members have purchased the Regimental Sack Coat in brown jeans from Milk Creek. Though this coat is serviceable, it should be seen as a stop gap measure and not a permanent uniform jacket.
Civilian button fly or fall front pattern trousers are recommended for your basic impression. Material and color/pattern is up to the individual so long as it is of period style (very high rise inseam by modern standards) we recommend the new re-enactor wear cotton as they will be slightly more comfortable in the Texas heat. Please note, trousers receive more wear and tear than almost any other part of your uniform. Buying trousers that ride properly can be pricey, but its well worth the cost as a cheap pair will wear out in one or two events. Finally, it's STRONGLY recommended that you buy your pants two or three sizes larger than you would normally. This will allow you plenty of room for active movement without risk of tearing, and thanks to suspenders without risk of your pants falling off!
Houston Depot Early/Late war
In early 1862 Captain Edward C. Wharton began operating a quartermaster depot in Houston Texas, procuring and issuing clothing and equipage from various sources. Very little is known of the early Houston Depot suits other than that they were "Constructed from a bleached white wool" which was most likely produced in the Huntsville penitentiary, and that Wharton is known to have shipped garments throughout the Trans-Mississippi department. In April of 1862, the 2nd Texas Infantry while in Corinth procured what very likely were Houston Depot uniforms and Col. Moore described them thus "We found the so-called uniforms as white as washed wool could make them" subsequently after the 2nd served with distinction at Shiloh a Federal prisoner asked "Who were them hell-cats that went into battle dressed in their grave clothes?"
By the Fall of 1862, Wharton felt that he could produce uniforms cheaper in his own depot. So after receiving a shipment from England of 12,000 yards of coarse Cadet Gray cloth (now known as Blue Gray Kersey) he began production of clothing in his own government tailor shop. This uniform consisted of Jacket made from imported cadet gray (blue-gray kersey) or Huntsville penitentiary white if supplies of imported cloth were low, Trousers made from Huntsville penitentiary white wool, and a Cap made from imported kersey with a black leather visor and glazed chin strap secured with two small buttons. Wharton expanded his operation and continued to receive shipments through the blockade until the end of the war. While next to no surviving garments are known to survive today Wharton's records provide detailed insight into the scale of the Houston depots operations. Between 1 January 1863 and 30 January 1864 stocks were issued to Arkansas, Lousiana, The Indian Nations, Texas State troops, and the Labor Bureau including 13,691 Hats or Caps, 20,925 Jackets, 1,435 coats (likely frock coats), 40,293 Trousers, 39,407 Shirts, 35,057 pairs of Drawers, 3,426 pairs of Socks, 43,657 pairs of Shoes, and 377 great coats.
For more information about the Houston Depot, please check out Fred Adolphus' articles on The Houston Quartermaster Depot, and the John C. Bach jacket. Which is very likley the only surviving Houston Depot Jacket.
For usage by the Texas re-enactor, the Houston Depot uniforms constitute a highly versatile uniform that is able to span a large section of the war both in terms of time frame and geography. White or drab uniforms are very possibly the third most common material used for Confederate uniforms and are known to have seen service in all theaters of the war, from Pea Ridge Arkansas in March of 1862 to New Market Virginia in May of 1864. This broad impression can be focused in for specific Trans-Mississippi and some Army of Tennessee battles with the simple addition of a Kersey jacket and cap.
If you would like to read more about the usage of bleached white/drab uniforms I highly recommend The Forgotten Confederate Color, by Fred Adolphus.
We recommend a bleached white uniform set for your first upgrade from a basic commutation look. This jacket should be made from Ben Tarts Natural Cream jeans cloth, and based on a Houston Depot pattern. Sadly there are not Houston patterns currently on the market, which restricts us to buying from The Honest Sutler alone. However, the 11th is currently in the process of designing a pattern based off the John C. Bach jacket and an Ambrotype of Pvt. August Ritter which we will be offering to our members in the near future.
In addition to your white jacket, we advise a blue-gray kersey jacket of the same pattern for use at later war Trans-Mississippi events. Currently, these jackets may only be purchased from The Honest Sutler.
Captain Wharton's records indicate that he preferred to use the white Huntsville penitentiary's cloth predominantly for trousers, to save his sometimes limited supply of kersey for jackets and caps. We advise these trousers be our member's first piece of campaigner gear. They should be mule ear trousers made from Ben Tarts Natural Cream jeans cloth.
The Houston depot caps use should be limited to events occurring after November 1862. Don Smith makes a fantastic reproduction of this cap which he sells on his website.
While not required, we do strongly recommend procuring a set of English imported black leathers with the Brittish army snake buckle belt. Wharton almost certainly issued many sets of these leathers, as they would have been imported along side the Kersey cloth, Tait jackets, and imported felt hats he received.
Here are some fantastic sources for further reading about the Civil War.
These vendors are known to produce very high-quality reproductions. They are generally slightly more expensive, but their attention to authenticity and quality tends to be impeccable.
These vendors are one stop shops for new re-enactors. They can provide everything to get you started and out on the field.