Although soldiers often brought clothing from home to wear, and Confederate soldiers suffered from shortages of equipment that meant they did not always have a full uniform, Civil War soldiers usually wore:
• Cotton drawers (underwear)
• Socks, wool
• Trousers, wool
• Shoes (brogans)
• Neck stock (tie)
• Sack coat (wool)
• Forage cap
At the Battle of Gettysburg, there were approximately 70,000 Confederate Soldiers and 90,000 Union soldiers. We know that while some men wore no underwear, others may have had an extra pair, so we can estimate that there were 160,000 pairs of underwear!
Most men had an extra shirt, so there may have been as many as 250,000 shirts!
How many shirts, pants, socks, and shoes do you own? How does this compare
to people your age in other countries?
Ask your grandparents how it compares to the clothing they had at your age. How do you explain the differences?
What did it cost to outfit one soldier? One recruit noted his costs in 1860s dollars:
Adjusting for inflation, that’s about $544.10 in today’s money. If you were to outfit the approximately 160,000 soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg in today’s dollars, it would cost $63,040,000!
Who paid the bill for Civil War soldier’s clothing and equipment?
Did the soldiers themselves have to buy all or part of it?
How does that compare to who pays in today’s military?
If it takes about 2 yards of fabric to make a pair of civil war trousers and 2.5 yards to make a civil war jacket, that means it took a lot of wool to outfit the soldiers who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg:
160,000 soldiers x 4.5 yards of fabric for a pair of trousers and a jacket each = 720,000 yards of fabric!
Most soldiers had the shirt they were wearing and a spare shirt in their pack. With 160,000 soldiers, that’s 320,000 shirts. If a Civil War style shirt requires about 3.25 yards of 45” wide fabric to make), that means 1,040,000 yards of fabric. All those shirts total over 1 million yards of fabric!
If we made it into one HUGE piece of fabric, it would be a strip of fabric 45” wide stretching 591 MILES!
At the time of the Civil War, each mill worker could produce about 75 yards of fabric per week , which means it would have taken 13,867 workers each working for a week to make enough fabric for all those shirts!
How many workers for how long does it take for modern day factories to produce two of the shirts you wear?
What did uniform items cost?
On the Confederate side, one source says that:
• Shoes cost $6.00 a pair. If you adjust for inflation, that’s $116.63
• Trousers cost $3.00 a pair. If you adjust for inflation, that’s $58.32
• Caps cost $2.00. If you adjust for inflation, that’s $38.88
• Socks cost $1.00 a pair. If you adjust for inflation, that’s $19.44
Does it surprise you that clothing was actually more expensive then than it is now?
What about today’s soldier’s uniforms?
Today’s soldiers pay about $92 for their complete uniform, but that price does necessarily show the true cost of the uniform. You can buy a pair of military boots online for about $200.
Why would it cost more for clothing items in 1863 than it does today?
What has changed about how clothing was made?
Why might today’s uniforms cost the soldiers less than their “actual” cost?
Who pays the
TeachersFirst.com ⋅ Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers® ⋅ Copyright © 1998-2018 by The Source for Learning, Inc. All rights reserved.