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Below is the basic uniform for a private in the 69th New York. You are not required to purchase your gear all at once, though we strongly encourage purchasing it as soon as possible; this frees up loaner gear for new recruits. PLEASE TALK TO A VETERAN BEFORE PURCHASING ANYTHING! This is VERY important and will save you money and headaches.
● New York “Excelsior” Shell Jacket
I recommend Milk Creek Mercantile for this. (www.milkcreek.com) Your shell jacket should NOT have any piping on the cuff. If it does, it is the New York State National Guard Jacket, first made in 1863, and not concurrent with our 1862 impression.
● Sky blue kersey trousers
● Dark blue “forage” cap
Make sure it has a square brim, and do NOT get a “kepi!” You need brass “6,” “9,” “B” pins and a harp pin for your hat. You will want to sew the harp pin onto your hat to keep it from falling off and getting lost, which will happen if it is not sewn. In our unit, we commonly arrange the “69” pins directly below the “B” pin on the top stiff part of the hat. The harp goes on the left side of the hat. Talk to a veteran for placement of these pins. You can also see these pins on the banner at the bottom of the page.
● Cotton shirt (two)
Your cotton shirt can be of almost any period pattern. These would have been made at home by the soldier’s wife, mother or sister. The army did issue shirts also. You can get both kinds at almost any sutler.
● Cotton suspenders
● Rag wool socks (two pair)
You will see many reenactors tuck the hem of their trousers into their wool socks. The
reason for this is that it keeps bugs from crawling up your legs. Also it keeps your legs warmer at night.
● Black US“Jefferson Bootee” brogans (rough-side out)
For your brogans, you will want to buy heel plates (they look like small horseshoes). They preserve the life of your sole heel by preventing wear, and they also give a small amount of tread, of which brogans have none. You can also get hobnails which protect the rest of your sole, and give quite a bit more tread. However, you will want the sutler to install the hobnails for you; if you do it wrong they will poke your feet and it is very uncomfortable.
● Period cotton or flannel drawers (two pair)
●Black tarred haversack
The haversack was what soldiers stored their rations in. Soldiers kept only their food and eating utensils in this bag. Do put other things in your haversack; put them in your knapsack.
● Smooth-side canteen with dark blue cover
You MUST have a canteen and keep drinking from it to participate. Our rule is that if you haven’t drunk a complete canteen by noon you cannot fight in the first battle. This is for your own safety: We do not want anyone getting dehydration injuries. Your canteen should be a smooth side canteen, as opposed to a “bull’s eye” canteen or a drum canteen. Your canteen should have both a leather or canvas strap and a dark blue wool cover. Your strap should be shortened to the point that your canteen is hanging about where your elbow is. Your canteen should be made of tin. Some are made of stainless steel, which is not period. This is okay as long as you have a canteen cover.
● .69 Caliber m1842 cartridge box with “SNY” box plate
Your cartridge box should be the m1842 cartridge box, meant to hold 40 .69 caliber cartridges. You should also have two cartridge box “tins” for this box. These hold ten rounds in the top of each, and a package of ten rounds in the bottom. These are kind-of awkward to have, especially when you shoot more than twenty rounds in a battle, but these are for safety. Somehow, if your rounds get ignited, the tins shape the charge away from your leg and will save you from major injuries. You should have them. You should also have a “box plate” of the SNY style. This is also for safety. The box plate weights the flap on your cartridge box and makes it close, preventing sparks from getting into your cartridge box and causing an explosion.
●Black cartridge box strap
●Black Shield Front cap pouch
●Black waist belt with “SNY” buckle (waist belt keeper recommended)
A belt keeper will secure the extra length of your waist belt and prevent it from hanging and flapping. Not required but useful.
●TWO rivet Springfield bayonet scabbard
Your bayonet scabbard should only have TWO rivets. The seven-rivet style is not period for our impression.
●Armisport reproduction of the m1842 .69 caliber Springfield smoothbore musket
The m1842 musket comes smoothbore or rifled. The rifled version is not period for our impression: get the smoothbore. This gun has an overall length of 57 3/4", nothing small! Remember, the '42 is what the 69th was issued. If you get a gun, you need to get a cleaning kit. Talk to a veteran before purchasing one; there are lots of different parts.
●Leather sling for above musket
Make sure the sling you get is meant for the ’42 musket. Some slings are way too long and just don’t work.
●Springfield bayonet for m1842 musket
The bayonet is a three-sided, ~17.5” long socket bayonet which transforms your musket into a spear. The high-quality ones are expensive (but worth it) and made in Italy. Because all we use them for are candle sticks and stacking muskets, you can get away with a cheaper one, but you will have to do some searching. Again, make sure it fits your musket!
●Early war “hardpack” knapsack
Knapsacks are quite useful as it stores all your stuff for the weekend. The hardpack is a European style of knapsack. These are generally expensive from sutlers. If you are good with tools and know where to look for supplies, you can make one for much cheaper. Talk to a veteran and examine his pack before commencing construction.
●US issue shelter half
The dog tents soldiers use are composed of two halves which button together. These are large pieces of canvas. You can make poles out of straight tree branches with a Y-fork. You need to y-forks and a straight ridge pole. You will also need four stakes. Get these from a sutler.
Your blanket should be grey 100% wool. You can get these from various sutlers, but make sure that it is grey, and 100% wool! Not all things that sutlers carry are period. Your blanket may have a large “US” stitched into the center. This is okay to have, and period, as long as it isn’t a modern military stamp.
●Rubber “gum” blanket or poncho
A gum blanket is a thin piece of canvas with rubber on one side. This is basically a ground cloth that you would lay down under your dog tent to keep the moisture out; it is water proof. Some come with a slit in the center for use as a poncho. Ponchos function as both a poncho and a ground cloth. If it rains, a poncho would cover you and all the gear you are wearing (knapsack included!). Very useful.
●Sky blue US infantry “great coat” overcoat
A great coat is really, a great coat. They are large thick wool coats with a “cape” which serves as a hood. They have extra long cuffs that you roll up or down for preference. Make sure you don’t get a mounted great coat. They are much longer and have too many buttons.
●TIN cup, TIN plate, fork, spoon, knife (or a period combination device)
You will want a cup. Make sure that your cup is not stainless steel: it isn’t period. Get the tin one. You might also want a mucket. You will need a plate; get a tin one. It may or may not have “US” stamped in the center; either is okay. You will need eating utensils. They make several different kinds; find a style you like and get that one. Make sure it isn’t stainless steel!
A mucket is a VERY large mug with a bucket and a mug handle and a hinged lid with a loop. They are great for cooking a meal for yourself, and very period. Again, make sure its tin! You can get both a cup to drink from and a mucket to eat from.