Welcome to The Perryville Civil War Battlefield Website


Confederate Cavalry 2017

Military Reenactor Information and Guidelines
The following information will guide you through the impression and guidelines to participate in Perryville Battlefield’s Living History Program.  Please read the following information thoroughly as it will answer most of the questions you may have about participating as a military participant.  If you have further questions, email joan.house@ky.gov or call 859-332-8631 to speak to the staff preservation coordinator.

Primary Impression
Cavalry trooper during the Kentucky Campaign of 1862.

Military Reenactor Information and Guidelines
The following guidelines were designed to insure the appropriate and typical impression of a trooper in the Army of the Mississippi during the fall of 1862.  The men of the Army of Mississippi were typically young men from rural communities and in general they represented the typical western cavalrymen of the American Civil War.  It is in their honor that we request that your impression be based upon those typical soldiers instead of some unusual or non-typical individual.

Confederate Cavalry Impression
In general, a Confederate cavalry impression will represent a trooper in Wharton’s or Wheeler’s Cavalry Brigades of the Army of Mississippi in the fall of 1862. Impressions of other soldiers associated with the Army of Mississippi during that time can also be considered. Unless there is a specific interpretative purpose that is preplanned, impressions from earlier or later in the war, from some other theater of the war, or some sort of other soldier impression are inappropriate and will not be allowed. These guidelines are minimum standards; nothing less is acceptable.

The use of any modern or inappropriate material (including cigarettes, modern eyeglasses and watches, modern food containers, plastic, soda cans, sleeping bags, coolers, etc. absolutely no Cell Phones are to be visible at any time) by Living History participants in view of the visitors will not be acceptable at any time (including "after hours"). Impressions are subject to inspection by park staff and their representatives at all times. All Kentucky state park rules and regulations must be followed.

These guidelines suggest the most appropriate types of equipment and material for Living History use. As Living Historians, we must always be striving to improve our impression so as to better educate our visitors and honor the soldiers and civilians we strive to portray. These guidelines are based on continuing extensive research and documentation.

Individual reenactment organizations are encouraged to tailor their impressions to fit the particular regiment they wish to portray.  Abundant research is available upon the various units and we encourage participants to work with park staff to achieve their impression goals.

The following guidelines are a minimum set of standards to participate in the Battle of Perryville.  The items that are listed under each heading are acceptable.  If it is not listed, then it is not acceptable.

Material and Construction:
Common materials in the construction of Confederate uniforms were wool weft, cotton warp jean weave material, wool weft, wool warp jean weave cloth, satinets, cassimere, kersey, and all cotton jean weave material (rarely other then for trousers). Grey to dark grey, grey-brown, blue-grey, and brown were the most common color, but green-grey was also seen. Osnaburg and muslin in white were typical linings, but evidence exists for various types of checked, stripped and polished cotton linings. These same materials were used for shirts and drawers. Woven strips and checks, some prints, and colors were used for shirts. Wool and cotton flannels were also used for shirts and drawers. Construction: Hand sewing was most common. Machine sewing is occasionally seen in lighter garments such as shirts and drawers. However, since sewing machines had been purchased widely even in the South, some uniforms were entirely or largely machine sewn. All button holes were hand stitched. Living History clothing should show hand sewn button holes and ideally be hand stitched where visible.

John Bowman

John Bowman Tennessee CS Cavalry Trooper
Date Unknown
Courtesy of Ken Knopp, Confederate Saddles and Horse Equipment
“Texas saddle, martingale and Federal or five-ring halter.”

* State issue/commutation
* Single breasted military frock coats of jean, cassimere, and satinette of proper   construction only. 
* Civilian pattern sack or frock coats acceptable constructed of jean, cassimere, or satinette of proper construction only.
* Federal Uniform Coats

Buttons: flat brass disc or “coin”, wooden, block C, and some Union coat buttons. State button use should be limited.  CSA buttons are not documented with the Army of Mississippi and should not be worn.

Suspenders: Proper period pattern constructed of woven cotton, tape, leather, ticking, etc. No modern elastic. Proper period buckles (not nickel plated.)

* CS military pattern
* Civilian pattern and
* Sky blue Federal issue
A number of Federal issue sky blue pants were captured at Big Hill and distributed to the Army of the Mississippi during the Kentucky Campaign particularly to the new Kentucky Regiments recruited during the late summer of 1862.

Military issue or civilian style in cotton or wool flannel if worn

* Civilian in wool or cotton, flannel, woven checks or strips, prints (very limited), or muslin.
* Federal Issue – domet –flannel shirt

Buttons: 3/8-inch bone, china, or mother of pearl buttons or small wood

Vests:   Proper period construction either lay down civilian style collar or military stand up collar. Jean, satinet etc.

Neck Ties:  Silk cravats, printed or solid and tied in period fashion.

* Federal or Confederate-made or imported brogan shoes with smooth or rough sides out. * Civilian pattern boots & shoes: Boots with one piece fronts.
* “Correct” Federal issue cavalry boots. 
No rubber soles.  No (post war) old west pattern boots.
Wool or cotton knit socks in white, a basic color, or natural color; hand knit

        “Some of our boys were searching around the dead for footwear, all in darkness.”
        -- Blackburn, J. K. Polk, Co. F, 8th Texas Cavalry, C.S. Army

* Civilian slouch hats: flat, round, low or high crown; beehive, etc. Most have edge trim. With period lining and sweat band.
* Proper period constructed CS or US forage caps
* CS kepis/forage caps
NO cowboy hat conversions or shapeless hillbilly hat blanks and no animal parts.  Hat brass should be kept at a minimum.

* Civilian
* CS patterns made of jean, kersey, satinette or cassimere.
* Federal issue greatcoats as a number of these were captured at Big Hill.

* Civilian style, 100% wool, woven blankets in natural or earth tone colors
* Union issue blanket
* Blanket made from period pattern wool carpeting

Eyewear and Glasses:
Spectacles (what we call glasses today) were not a common item amongst Civil War soldiers or even civilians of that era. Hence, try to get by without glasses if you can while doing Living History or wear contact lenses. If you must wear glasses, visit antique stores and purchase a 19th century pair and have the lenses replaced with one of your prescription, preferably with safety lenses. No modern glasses may be worn at anytime as part of a Living History program.

Civilian attire:
Individual items of civilian attire are acceptable as identified above. The presence, though, of a recent recruit in the ranks entirely in civilian attire would certainly be possible in cavalry recruited in Kentucky.  Most new men were uniformed in about a month after joining the unit, but in a period of active campaigning, some time could pass before the usual military clothing could be issued.

Personal effects:
Not every soldier has to have every possible personal effect. However, having at least a few of these little items helps complete and enrich the impression. In choosing personal effects, remember that you will have to carry them.
Combs, toothbrush, pocketknife, housewife, handkerchief (bandannas/railroad scarves are not acceptable; they should particularly not be worn as attire or adornment)
Vests, civilian or military pattern wallet, writing paper pen and ink, pencil, mirror, playing cards, various game pieces’ books or newspapers are acceptable.

In addition to having the appropriate Living History equipment and material, it must be used and worn correctly. Pants and waist belts were worn at the real waist (i.e. the naval) and not at the hips; clothes were not form fitting.  Hats and coats were worn whenever in public; pants were rarely tucked in the socks. By adopting the appropriate 19th century use and appearance, the Living History impression is remarkably improved.

Long arms:
period muskets and correct carbines (Sharps, Burnside, Spencer, Smith preferred).

      Thank you for your prompt attention to the wants of my command. I will endeavor to discharge my whole duty in the responsible position to which I have been assigned.  In reporting to Genl. Hardee this morning I applied for Enfield Rifles for my command.  Will you do me the favor to support my application as you can testify to the steadiness of my raw recruits under fire.

      J. Warren Grigsby
      Col. Commanding [6th KY Cav. C.S.]
      Oct. 12, 1862

      My gun would have to be loaded again before I could shoot and it took time to load an old Belgian rifle such as I had then.  I did not think my saber would be of much use if the enemy began shooting at me out of the woods and from behind the fence with the corners full of high weeds.

      Joseph Pettus
      6th Ky Cavalry C.S.
      Battle of Perryville

      “A large portion of our cavalry are unarmed.  Carbines and shotguns or arms suitable for mounted men are greatly wanted, and a supply at this time would add materially to our means of defense of this important department, now threatened on all sides by the enemy.”  -J.F. Belton (Kirby Smith’s AAG) to J.M. Galt (Post Commander, Lynchburg, Va.) 6/20/1862

Pistols: period correct cap and ball pistol in holster.  Limit pistols – one per trooper.
Carrying more than one pistol or cylinder is not recommended in a cavalry impression more than 2 per man is an anachronism.  Troopers were so excited about getting pistols and pistol parts they often put it in their letters home.  They simply did not have easy access to small arms. This was common in the border wars and is typical of the “border ruffian” imagery that currently exists in the historical record, but that impression is not appropriate for the Army of Mississippi.

      “I want fire-arms (not pistols) for cavalry.  [I] cannot say how many, as calls are made on me for me daily.  [I] would like from 500 to 1,000.   ...Can you supply arms?”
      -General S. Jones to J. Gorgas 9/7/1862

Saber Belt:
* Confederate made model black or russet leather
* M1858 sword belt: black leather 2 piece with buckle and shoulder and saber straps.
* M1851 Dragoon belt

Cap pouch – black or russet leather

Pistol Cartridge Box – black or russet leather with appropriate tins

Holster – Black or russet leather
Holstered pistols should be worn butt forward on the right side.

Carbine Cartridge Box
* Confederate made black or russet leather with appropriate tins
* M1860 black leather with appropriate tins

Carbine Sling: black or russet leather with iron roller snap hook

* M1840 or M1860 US Cavalry Saber
* Confederate made models
Cavalry sabers would have been abundant with the newly recruited regiments or regiments who had access to the captured stores at Big Hill in Richmond.  Although a veteran cavalryman on campaign would not want or use a saber many of the new recruits carried them at Perryville.

      “...Starnes’ [4th Tennessee] cavalry [regiment] ... is only armed with sabers but can be made available for scouts or distributed among better-armed mounted troops.
                                                                 -J.F. Belton to General Stevenson 8/9/1862

* Tin drum
* Wooden drum (Gardner pattern), usually of cedar
* Federal pattern- smooth side
* Other common period pattern
Straps should be cotton, cotton webbing, or leather sewn together or with a buckle or button.

Gum blankets/ground cloth:
Oil cloth, painted canvas, or captured Federal issue gum blanket

Use of Federal items:
Federal-style canteens, blankets, knapsacks, haversacks, gum blankets, accouterments, belt plates and weapons can be used. Federal sky-blue enlisted man's foot trousers would have been evident among the newly recruited Kentucky cavalry regiments. Thousands of Federal Issue items were sent from Big Hill, after the capture of Richmond, to the newly established supply depot in Garrard County known as Camp Breckenridge (Camp Dick Robinson before Confederate capture). Other Federal Issue items (mostly accouterments) would have been available after the Confederate capture of Munfordville, Kentucky.

      "The position I then had not being a good one I advanced to the front without orders, taking a commanding position, from which I had a good view of the surrounding country. From this position bodies of cavalry could be seen to the front; we could not see whether they were our own troops or those of the enemy. By my glass I could see that they had on a blue uniform similar to our own. Not knowing what troops they were, I sent word to the rear for information and orders. These troops, after halting a short time in front of us, filed off to the right toward the direction of Harrodsburg."
       --- Testimony of Colonel CHARLES G. HARKER, Commanding, Twentieth Brigade, Sixth Division, Second Corps, Army of the Ohio, Morning of October 9th, 1862.

The cavalry seen by Col. Harker appears to be Wheeler’s C.S. Cavalry Brigade moving away from Perryville.

No appaloosas, paints, or pintos, unless they can visually pass for a breed commonly in use by the armies during that time period. No stallions or ponies. Do not tie horses to loose or unsecured items!
Health Requirements
A current EIA Test (Coggins) is required for each animal within 1 year of the date of the event. Out of state horses will need a health certificate within 30 days of the date of the event. In state horses will need a health certificate within 1 year of the event.
Health papers are required for transport within state lines. Current flu, rhino, tetanus vaccinations are highly recommended for each horse. If said paperwork is not in order, or if the veterinarian deems the animal to be unhealthy, the participant’s animal will not be allowed access to the site(s).  A veterinarian will be on-site or on call for the entire event weekend.

Horses must be supervised and maintained at all times. 

Given that the Confederate Cavalry at Perryville was a hodge-podge of states as well as new recruits and veteran troopers, all of the following saddles are acceptable. Please research your particular impression in making any decision regarding horse furniture.

      M1859 McClellan, w. /1859 quarter straps and girth.  McClellan’s. Officers’ saddles must be honest reproductions:
      1833 Dragoon style
      Texas/Spanish Style – NO MODERN WESTERN SADDLES)
      Period civilian (Muley, Sommerset, McBride, Richardson, English Style)
      CS McClellan Typ

Horse Furniture – The following are acceptable:

    Period stirrups (NO 1904 iron stirrups)
    Valise, 1859 saddlebags, true copy –CS saddlebags
    Proper period breast straps
    Grey, red, or dragoon, federal issue saddle blankets, any proper issue or civilian blanket of the period.  No modern Indian saddle blankets, yellow-trimmed Indian war blankets, or olive drab blankets.
    Proper period pommel holsters (discouraged)
    Proper 3 or 5 buckle cavalry or artillery pattern headstall.  Iron or brass hardware.  Correct roller buckles only.  NO MODERN WESTERN BRIDLES.
    Cavalry Model 1859 or civilian leather halter or watering bridle.
    Leather or rope lead.
    Proper link straps are required for cavalry to fight dismounted.
    No modern bits or nickel reproductions will be tolerated.  No nylon halters or ropes are to be used in living history areas.

Tentage and Camps
The living history program was developed to allow the visiting public to understand the workings of a fixed military encampment.  Tents are encouraged and allowed.  However, only A-Frames are acceptable for troopers.

If you are going to construct a she-bang– Federal “rubber blankets” or “gum blankets”
Shelter halves do not appear in the Western Theater until the end of December 1862. 

All participants will remain in period attire with no modern items in view of the public (including “after hours.”) 

Camp Equipage
Each soldier should carry a period tin cup, knife, fork, spoon, and tin plate. More extensive cooking items such as period individual frying pans (even improvised ones from old canteens) are not necessary and should be very limited. Cooking was done in messes (four or five to fifteen men) sharing the cooking duties and using large cooking utensils such as kettles, camp kettles, frying pans, coffee pots, dutch ovens, large spoons and forks, butcher knives, mess pans, wooden water buckets, axes, etc. These large items were carried in the regimental baggage wagons which accompanied the troops except in the presence of the enemy. They were often packed in wooden boxes serving as mess chests. When the soldiers were issued rations (normally in three to five day increments), the baggage wagons with the cooking utensils were present except on rare occasions. In some units, the soldiers assigned to the wagon trains did the cooking and the rations were delivered cooked to the troops in the ranks. Tables, chairs, and stools were not provided for soldiers or even company officers. Due to the impression they will be allowed in the fixed encampment scenarios, but they must be period correct and limited for Confederate impressions.  Much of the Kentucky C.S. Cavalry had been newly recruited and were not used to actively campaigning.  The veterans would have been much more mobile resulting in their camp furniture consisting of what they could forage and put together. 

Military Structure and Responsibility
- The rank you wear must be commensurate with the number of troops you put in the field. To serve as a distinct company you must be able to field at least 20 mounted troopers.  Commanders are responsible for safety inspections as well as insuring that the event standards are adhered to. No one may serve above the rank of captain without a specific appointment from the overall command staff.

Miscellaneous – Feed hay will be provided for all horses.  Water troughs will be situated near all encampments.  All horse trailers will have designated parking areas.  Said parking areas will be patrolled by the Kentucky Department of Parks.  Camping out of trailers will not be allowed.

Dismounted Cavalry
Cavalry impression requires participants to be mounted.  Basically if you don’t have a horse you will be treated as infantry and you should refer to infantry participant guidelines.

Individuals are welcome and invited to participate.  We will work with you to find you an appropriate organization.

Minimum Age to Participate – To carry a weapon at the Battle of Perryville you must be at least 16 years old.  No exceptions!

If these standards for participation are acceptable then you are welcome to register for the Battle of Perryville.


Jensen, Leslie D. "A Survey of Confederate Central Government Quartermaster Issue Jackets, Parts 1 and 2 and 3" Military Collector and Historian: Journal of The Company of Military Historians Volume 41, Nos. 3 and 4, Fall and Winter, 1989.

MacDonald, K.C. & Turner, Gordan. “Uniforms, Equipment, and Arms of the Army of Tennessee with particular reference to the 1st TN Infantry.”

OR, Vol. 52, Pt. 1, p. 51 – 53

OR. Vol. 16, Pt. 2, p. 746-747

Primary Resources provided by Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, Manuscript Collection.

Time-Life Books Echoes of Glory: Arms and Equipment of The Union, Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy, 2 volumes (1991).

Walden, Geoff. “The Columbus Depot Jacket.”

Special thanks to the staff at Chickamauga National Battlefield for their assistance in developing these impression guidelines.



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