Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?
Page 1 of 2

Author:  KangViper [ Wed Dec 03, 2008 2:16 am ]
Post subject:  Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?

With working 60+ hours a week for the past 3 months, my research has gone down greatly. But here's my question.

While issued regular Infantry Sack Coats, what style were they? Just trying to find information to do a better impression.

Would a generic Contract Sack Coat work for an impression, or can there be a specific make. I was thinking that maybe the Schuylkill Arsenal Sack Coat or the J.T. Martin Sack Coat but I just haven't had time to sit there and make the difference between those two. Along with the trowsers also, would a Schuykill Arsenal Trowser work?

Just trying to get my impression nailed down piece by piece. Was thinking about buying the Schuykill Arsenal Jacket and Trowser Kit from W,W, and Co. to do during my Christmas Break from work. Would love to hear what you all have to say. All of you have really helped me out a lot.

Author:  BrianTWhite [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?


To be frank, unless someone finds and fully documents an original USSS identified sack coat we may never be 100% certain as to who made the originals. There was a single alleged original that a private collector sent me photos of but I have not been able to view it in person and determine if it is fact what the owner says it is.

On the bright side though, we know where the Sharpshooters got their green uniform coats from; Schuylkill Arsenal. If this was the primary supply depot for a large part of the Army of the Potomac and the facility continually produced uniforms for the Sharpshooters in the field, then it may be a good bet that their fatigue blouses originated here if they were making continued requests from this familiar location. That does not mean that the fatigue blouses were the completely hand-sewn in-house produced type but could just as well have been made by one of the many local contractors supplying Schuylkill Arsenal. There were many high-output firms sending hundreds of thousands of finished blouses to S.A. between 1862 and 1865.

New York could also have been a supply point if the quartermaster offices in Philadelphia were under-stocked or overworked. Since New York had no production facility of it's own, even from the very start, they were solely a collections facility. In this case any goods being sent out from New York could have come from contractors operating in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, etc.. This would allow even greater leeway in selecting a fatigue blouse for one's impression. The catch here, just like with my first statement, is finding a documented original to copy.

For now the current market offers only a few good options but options that would have been very commonly available to a soldier back then (not that he literally had a choice of what style of blouse he got). Both Schuylkill Arsenal and J.T. Martin were prolific manufacturers of fatigue blouses so either would be fine. Just keep in mind that nearly EVERY Martin contract blouse authentically reproduced is based on unissued, surplus examples made by Martin very late in the war (approximately dated Oct. 4th 1864 or as late as Feb. 1865). Martin's firm definitely produced blouses starting in early 1862 but they were most certainly worn and discarded by soldiers in the field before they could be preserved for posterity. Schuylkill Arsenal made fatigue blouses shared commonalities but were not always identical to one another; they were also always hand-sewn by any of tens of thousands of local women ensuring that no two were going to be identical.

As for a kit from Wambaugh, White, & Co. I'll first say that am biased towards these since I am a business partner in the company! I will say that we've had many happy customers who purchased our kits and either enjoyed putting them together themselves or had someone else do it. You do have the option of getting a kit from Charlie Childs of County Cloth, Inc., but those contain instructions geared towards individuals who are well-versed and know exactly what they're doing. We do also offer Schuylkill Arsenal trouser kits in sky blue but I am working on a source of authentic dark green kersey that a kit could also be cut from.

Author:  David Rider [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?


Do you guys have any good supplier for the Berdan Green Frock Material ? We used the last of our Pat Klein run material.

I looked into Abimelech Hainsworth, but not sure of their material, like their Rifle Green Doeskin material. Your Thoughts?

I also have an inside source at Woolrich, who is willing to Dye & weave custom for us. I have a friend who works for Woolrich and put me in touch with their chief of the mills.

Author:  KangViper [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?

I actually ordered a sample of that doeskin and took it to Tom at RQ and said that the Doeskin material looked more of an Officers Grade than an Enlisted Men Grade. Don't get me wrong I like it and has great rick dark green colour, but not too dark though.

But Brian, thanks for the all the helpful information on the Sack Coats. As I have made a decision. Also, I would be really interested in the dark green Trousers. But I need regular infantry gear for when anyway for certain events and when I do artillery with my friends.

Also Brian,I know about how your website states that Dan and yourself you don't want a whole bunch of people contacting you for special items that you don't normally offer. But, I have been looking into getting a new Period Correct Bedan Frock Coat. What would a Coat like that cost? I just hope that I could afford it if you guys would agree to me one..... :D :lol:

Author:  BrianTWhite [ Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?


Hainsworth's rifle green doeskin is not that bad of a color; I compared samples of it to Cpl. William Henderson's uniform coat (which is in private hands) and the fabric was close but not 100% spot-on. Of course the original items, most likely made from indigo dyed blue fabric that was later top-dyed with yellow, would have varied in shade and hue. Sergeant Tilson's uniform coat is actually made from three slightly different shades of dark green; this is evident on the inside facings. As far as the quality of the Hainsworth doeskin, it actually compares favorably to the coat cloth used in the two original frocks I've viewed. Henderson's frock was brand new in some places and the cloth almost had a rich velvety appearance! The only bad side to the Hainsworth material is the incredibly high price. There are ways to attain proper coat cloth by a little experimentation in the house, i.e. through the use of commercially available dyes and using a good dark blue broadcloth or kersey.

Pat Kline's dark green coat cloth comes pretty close. It's a little thinner, slightly coarser weave, and you can still see the twill woven yarns even after it's finished. Mike Fahle just handed over the remainder of Pat Kline's Sharpshooter coat cloth to Dan Wambaugh and I, and I think we're going to use it to make our own personal frock coats. I've been looking for more in the past few years and simply cannot find it! If you could scare up some of the heavier trouser kersey he made that would work just as well for frocks, albeit a little lighter in shade and not as rich a hue.

Working with Woolrich isn't a bad idea at all, and they've done custom weaving for not only Dan and I but primarily for Nick Sekela of Historic Clothiers. As long as the coat cloth could be made to their current 100% wool kersey specifications and dyed to the proper color it would be perfect for uniform coats and trousers. It's just costly...Dan had some sack coat flannel finished specially and it was a few thousand dollars for the minimum yardage. If you're thinking of doing this let me know and I can send you some samples that I've come very close to matching to the original frocks in person.



Yeeeaaaaah, I know that Dan doesn't like to take custom orders and I don't necessarily agree with that. I love custom orders, especially if it's something based closely on a specific original I've seen. Basically Dan has this up on the website to prevent orders from guys who want 100% tailored, custom fitted garments; something that wasn't seen often in CW era military garments unless you were an officer. We've worked on Federal frock coats together in the past and he actually made about six or seven total for the Payne's Farm, VA event we did a while back.

Currently we have all of the proper materials to make USSS frocks but in small numbers. The amount of Pat Kline coat cloth we have on hand is enough only for two frocks. I have a possible source for up to 40 yards of Pat Kline trouser kersey (the dark green stuff) and could feasibly use it for coats. Another option is Hainsworth rifle green doeskin or dyeing some material up myself. We've got the proper alpaca/silk lining, wool batting, sleeve lining, trim cloth, etc.. Not sure about the cost though; it would likely be pretty high since the two identified originals were made by Schuylkill Arsenal and featured a ton of hand stitching inside. I'd have to talk to Dan about it....if he doesn't want to work together on a coat for you then I could do it sometime early next year.

Author:  KangViper [ Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?

About how many yards would it take to make a frock coat? And you think the Hainsworth doeskin would be okay for the frock coat? I can't remember but wasn't it about $40-$50 per yard? Sorry for all the question. I trust you in making some of the hobby's best stuff and I don't want to put you out on the the Pat Kline stuff since you stated that you want it for your own personal frock coats.
I like the colour for the the Doeskin just thought it was very fine for enlisted men. But I do remember reading that the first issue frock coats were made of a very fine wool fabric.

Author:  BrianTWhite [ Fri Dec 05, 2008 7:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?


Depending upon what size you need and he width of the fabric, it should take about 3 yards (give or take). Interior facings can be pieced from scrap which was a very, very common practice not often seen in modern reproductions.

The Hainsworth should work well. You are right about the first coats being produced from imported English wool. I cannot recall who uncovered this information but it may have been Earl Coates; an order placed with Martin Bros. & Company (later John T. Martin) of New York in 1861 included 3,000 uniform coats. Apparently the order was so rushed that Martin Bros. turned to imported cloth but I don't think it's known where it came from. I would not worry too much about the quality of the Hainsworth doeskin; as I said before it will work nicely for an enlisted dress coat. While it's true that quality of uniforms varied greatly the two original Sharpshooter frocks I've seen were made from a tightly woven, beautifully finished twill wool. The price of Hainsworth cloth varies depending upon the strength of the U.S. dollar. Last time I heard it was roughly $80 per meter.

Since my last post I came upon a possible source for some more Pat Kline coat cloth but I am waiting for samples. Hopefully if we have enough we could help you out with a frock. We are also making a replica Sharpshooter frock for display at the Soldiers And Sailors Museum in Pittsburgh. It might help to do all of these coats back-to-back.

Author:  KangViper [ Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?


Thanks for all the help and information as you have made me more knowledgeable about sack and frock coats! You have been more than helpful!

Hopefully your other source comes thru with the Pat Kline Wool, as so another Frock Coat be made. If you could just please keep me updated on this and I'm going to have to hide a stash of money so I don't spend it...lol...Thank Again and you'll be hearing from me soon about the SA Trousers.

Author:  KangViper [ Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?

Well it took me many, many, well too many hours but it's done. I finally finished my Schuylkill Arsenal Blouse Kit from Wambaugh, White, and Company. I must say that my respect for hand sewn garment have gone way up for who ever produces them. The kit comes with everything you need except for the needle.I also bought original buttons on it, too. It might not look that great for it being my first piece sewn by hand, but it does fit me and that's all that counts right?

It's to bad that I can't get the Schuylkill Arsenal Trousers Kit in the dark green fabric to hand sewn, or can I?

Author:  KangViper [ Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Infantry Sack Coat...Which One?

Yep I made a better one of these this time around for the 145th Bentonville. Better kidney shape pocket, better sleeve attachment to the main body, and closer stitching. Always great to work on Dan and Brian's kits.

Page 1 of 2 All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group