Equipment list for the aspiring
2nd Dragoon/Cavalry Reenactor
A sad tale...
Listen my friends and you shall hear, of the shopping tale of a
One pistol would do but two were more fun, now not enough money
left for the carbine, just one.
The coat was too heavy kinda like a blanket, and the dye turned
all purple when the sun it had baked it.
The saddle you know had a fiberglass tree, and the "authentics"
made mirth and laughed at it with glee.
His heart it was golden and desired to do right, but the rush to
buy stuff created a blight.
The next time he shops will be with more wisdom, some friends
with the knowledge will help the decision.
Yes it's happened to more of us than we wish to admit.
We look on those early mistakes and wish we could Hang 'Em High.
It's better to go slow and get it right than waste time and a Fist Full of
Dollars rushing to get all that great stuff you thought you saw the other
guys using, when For a Few Dollars More you can do much better in the
authenticity of your gear and clothing. It's all out there, The Good,
the Bad, and the Ugly, and we're here to help you sort it out. That
way, you won't be branded a FARB, or Josey Wales type.
Now let's not get too tied up in knots either. We are not
a hard-core authentic unit. We strive more for functional excellence
than material perfection. We typically get labeled by hobbyists as a "Mainstream" unit. While this label works for
it leaves much unclear. We intend to work toward a good to better material
impression using well made clothing and equipment. We encourage all
members to start at good mid-quality level and work up from there.
DON'T BUY ANYTHING WITHOUT
TALKING TO US FIRST. Expect to spend from $3,000 to $4,000 to get started,
assuming you already have horse and transport for it.
- The 2nd United States Dragoon / Cavalry, Company
H which, after initial assignment to the Defenses of Washington and
Provost Martial (till September 1862), was part of the Army of the Potomac's Reserve Cavalry Brigade.
- Pre-war and early war items are preferred to cover a greater time span.
- Please review the following target impression standards for participants.
We expect it to take time.
- Participation beyond the first two years will require meeting those guidelines listed below.
- All participants are welcomed and encouraged to exceed basic guidelines at
Complete Uniform and Equipment definitions and requirements
Part I. Uniform and
- 1858 Fatigue Cap (required item)
- Also called the Forage or Bummer cap.
- Finely woven dark or royal blue wool
(not navy). A painted black leather brim and chinstrap are preferred.
- US regulation, small eagle buttons.
Black / brown polished cotton liner.
- The brim should stay flat, rather than
the sides curling as a modern cap
- This is NOT the volunteer Kepi, which
has a shorter crown and closely resembles the 1872 Garrison Cap.
- 1850’s Enlisted Uniform Hat (optional
item for later)
- ¼ inch ribbon at base of crown.
- 2 rows of stitching around the brim
- Shellacked outside with label inside
- Regulation brass insignia, plume and
cord (required for this hat)
- Optional leather chin strap
- Period civilian pattern hats (optional,
to be used very infrequently)
- Fine (non-fuzzy) wool felt of medium to
dark gray, brown, or black color.
- Sewn-on silk ribbon brim edge binding
- Leather or cotton duck sweat band
- Chin strings not typical (get one that
- Hats had round crown sides without
front “pinch”, with a round, flat, furrowed, bowl, or “beehive” shaped crown
tops. No modern styles!
- “Hat Brass” (optional items)
- Designed originally for the Uniform
hat, and not the Fatigue Cap until after General Order #53 of 1863. We see
many Fatigue Caps so adorned in the picture of Company I from spring 1863.
You may want a second, unadorned cap for living history purposes.
- Crossed Sabers with the 1” Company
Letter below, and ¾” Regimental number above, all generally centered on the
front of the Uniform Hat crown, or on the top of the Fatigue Cap crown.
- US Eagle hatpin, to attach right side
of the uniform hat brim up to the crown.
- NONE of these to be worn on civilian
style hats or caps.
- Hat Cord, with tassels (optional item)
- Color ORANGE through 1863, Yellow
- Worn around the base of the hat crown,
tassels aligned front and rear along the right side.
- Worn only on the Uniform Hat, not
- Plume (optional item)
- Black ostrich feather, about 12” to 14”
- Attached to the left side of the
Uniform Hat crown, aligned front to back
- Only worn on the Uniform Hat, not
- 1858 Fatigue blouse (required item) Also
called the "Saque Coat" or Shell Jacket
- Medium to dark blue lightweight wool
flannel with a clearly visible diagonal weave. NOT blackish “navy” blue
which often fades to purple.
- Short fold over collar, faced lapels
- Cuffs with a small scalloped vent in
- Four large US eagle buttons.
- Hand-sewn buttonholes. You can easily
redo them by hand.
- Unlined versions have flat-felled
- Linings are of one-piece wool or
wool/cotton weave in the body and muslin in the sleeve.
- 1854 Mounted Service Jacket (optional for
- Of dark blue or royal blue wool as with
the Fatigue blouse
dyed worsted wool tape trim (we're Dragoons, remember?). This color lasted
till after Gettysburg. Beyond that and when not portraying the 2nd US, we
can just use the Fatigue Blouse noted above, unless you also want to buy a
yellow trimmed jacket.
- 12 Small eagle buttons down the front,
3” tall collar with 2 ornamental buttons each side
- Hand sewn buttonholes. You can easily
redo them by hand.
- Full body/sleeve linings as the Fatigue
blouse, or polished cotton/cotton.
- Attachments for shoulder scales
- Enlisted brass shoulder scales
- Mounted Pattern Trousers (required)
- Made of sky-blue kersey wool with a
clearly visible diagonal weave.
- Top of the thin, tapering waistband
should reach the wearer's navel.
- Reinforced seat and inseam.
- Narrow, three to five button fly.
- Raised back with yoke.
- Side pockets and right-side watch
- Facings on vented cuffs.
- Detail work, like buttonholes, done by
hand. You can redo them yourself.
- Dark blue Mounted pattern trousers
(optional for early-war)
- As above but dyed dark or royal blue.
- Foot Pattern Trousers (optional mid to
late war or if you’ve already got ‘em)
- As above but without reinforced seat
Overcoat (optional, cold weather use only)
- Sky blue wool kersey like the trousers;
- Mounted Pattern is double breasted with
wrist length cape: strongly preferred.
- Foot Pattern had shorter cape and is
single breasted: acceptable if you already have one.
Shirts, under garments, and etc.:
- Civilian Pattern Shirt (required)
- 100 percent natural materials in period
colors and patterns.
metal, bone, wood, shell, or mother-of-pearl buttons.
- Fall down collar or a banded collar,
with or without a detachable collar.
- One, two or no pockets.
- Domet or gray flannel US Issue Shirts
(optional- really nice when it’s cold)
- Domet flannel shirt has three tin
buttons: one at neck and one at each cuff.
- Domet flannel is a cotton warp and wool
weft, off-white in color.
- Gray wool flannel shirt has 4 or 5
buttons, with two or three on a placket front and one on each cuff.
- Suspenders & belts (optional - not issued
- Civilian patterns of period materials
- Drawers (optional)
- Canton, cotton, or wool flannel or wool
knit, all acceptable.
- White, unbleached, and colors
- Socks: Solid-color yarn: off-white, gray,
buff, blue, or bluish-gray. No color rings or bands of. Of wool, cotton or a
wool/cotton blend. No modern pattern socks.
- Shoes: Issue brogans with pegged or sewn
soles. (First choice and early war requirement)
- Boots: Properly constructed, below the
knee, military style boot. (Second choice)
- Single-piece vamp (leg portion) if
- Pegged or sewn soles.
- Straight cut top 10" tall maximum
(taller or knee flaps discouraged).
- Wear trousers (outside) in dress
formations and inspections.
Part II Accoutrements and Weapons
- U.S. issue M1858 sword belt – (required)
Of black buff or bridle leather.
- 2 piece enlisted eagle buckle with
applied silver wreath.
- Shoulder strap is optional as pictures
show many did without.
- Saber straps.
- Cap pouch (required) Pre-war or early war
- Pistol Cartridge Box - For pistol
cartridges - the 2nd US carried these throughout. Cylinder pouches (a
reenactorism) are discouraged except for some reenactments!
- Holster - Black leather, butt forward,
end plug, worn on right side.
- Carbine Cartridge box (required)
- "Sharps box" with tin insert preferred,
carried on saber belt.
- M1860/Burnside accepted as second
- Carbine Sling (required) Of black buff or
bridle leather with iron roller snap hook.
- Sabre Knot - Wrist strap secures the
saber to you when drawn, for living history purposes only.
- Haversack (required) US issue tarred (not
dyed black). Slung over shoulder normally, but over saddle will do.
- Canteen (required)
- Stopper attached with a loop of hemp,
linen twine, or leather shoelace strongly preferred over chain (you can
- Snap hooks (a reenactorism)
- 1858 Smooth-side type (preferred)
- Cotton strap or un-dyed leather strap
with iron roller buckle and leather safe.
- Should be worn on person.
- Wool covered with brown/gray jean,
cloth cover preferred over light or dark blue.
- 1862 Bull’s-eye type (optional)
- Cotton strap or herringbone webbing
- Wool covering of brown/gray jeancloth
preferred over light/dark blue.
- Blanket: Gray/brown US Issue with black
stripes properly woven.
- Shelter half: (required) Light canvas
with hand-sewn grommets and tin or bone buttons.
- Gum blanket and/or poncho (required) with
small brass grommets
- “Wedge” or “A-Frame” tent: Originally
meant for 4 or 5 men. This is your heavy camp shelter.
Ordnance reports show the Second
Dragoons/Cavalry carried Colt’s .44 "Army" pistol, Sharps’ 1859/1863 Carbine,
and 1840/1860 Cavalry Sabers throughout the war period.
- Carbine (required - note that this should
be your first weapon purchased!!)
- Model 1859 or 1863 Sharp's
- Other US issue carbines only if you
already have it.
- Saber (required) Made with wire
wrapped, leather bound grip, and a peened tang (no nut on the end)
- 1840 Heavy Cavalry (aka Wrist Breaker)
preferred. We weld them for extra strength.
- 1860 Light Cavalry also accepted.
It's easier to wield.
- Pistol - (Only one allowed for living
history and other sensitive events. Pistols can be loaded using cartridges in
- Colt model 1860 .44 caliber "Army"
Revolver strongly preferred. (Required for serious living history)
- Colt model 1851 .36 caliber "Navy"
Revolver, next choice for early-war.
- Remington .44 or .36 caliber 1858
"Army" or “Navy” revolver last choice.
- All others strongly discouraged or not
- BUY YOUR CARBINE FIRST !!! BUY YOUR
SABER SECOND, AND BUY THE PISTOL LAST!!!
Part III Personal
(underlined are of first priority)
- Cup - issue tin cup - no stainless
- Small sheet steel fry pan with riveted
handle, or canteen half (no speckle ware)
- Fork and / or spoon
- Folding pocket knife of a period look
- Hygiene: tooth brush, small mirror, comb,
shaving equipment, etc.
- Cotton or Linen ration "poke" bags with
- Pipe & tobacco pouch and matches
(cigarettes not period correct)
- Housewife (needles, thread, thimbles,
- Writing utensils & paper
- Gaming paraphernalia
- Wallet & period repro money
- Pocket watch with key wind and chain fob.
Part IV. Horse Equipments
- Saddle -
Enlisted Model 1859 McClellan - All iron hardware, including "jappaned" or
blued iron bar buckles. All items required unless noted otherwise.
- Coat straps should be of proper weight
with correct buckles, leather stops recommended.
- Proper wool web girth and surcingle
with iron roller buckles.
- Crupper: (optional) an issued item, but
you may do without.
- Breast straps: (optional) not an issued
item with 1859 equipment. If your horse requires one, we prefer a good
field pattern breast strap over the pre-war military pattern.
- Hooded wooden stirrups, toe straps
discouraged, but allowed.
- Carbine Socket (optional)
- Saddle Bags - Blackened leather, smooth
or pebble grain.
- Smaller bags with iron buckle
- Must contain a body brush and hoof
pick. Should also contain a properly reproduced or original currycomb and
- Halter –
(required) U.S. issue of black bridle leather and iron hardware.
- Bridle –
(required) Blackened bridle leather
- 3 or 6 buckle.
- All buckles should be "jappaned"
blued iron bar buckles.
- Rosettes on brow band allowed.
- Bit - U.S. issued iron curb bit with
- Link Strap - with iron wire snap hook.
- Enlisted Reins - sewn in the center and
to the bit.
- White Canvas, with flat or rounded
black leather bottom
- Black or un-dyed leather strap with
iron roller buckle.
and Picket Pin (lariat required for campaign events)
- 4-strand, left-laid 30' hemp, whipped
at one end.
- Eye spliced to hand forged iron picket
- Saddle Blanket
– (required) U.S. issued dark blue wool with
ORANGE woven stripe
- "U.S." hand stitched in center in
- Saddle pads strongly discouraged. Use
your issue gray wool bed blanket or shelter half for extra padding. Pads,
if used must be completely hidden at all times.
- Grain Sack Roughly 6 inches by
2 Feet (optional)
- Watering bit and reins (optional)
- Period watering bucket (wood, canvas,
etc.) Or use your Nosebag.
- Spurs and Straps: (optional)
- Plain brass spurs
Correct black leather straps with iron buckles