Sutler's Web Pages

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The following I borrowed from another site..this is some of the history of the Sutler

Sutlers: An Integral Part of the Civil War

By Pat McNulty

Sutlers were looked upon as a necessary evil by both Union and Confederate troops.

The sutler was a camp-follower civilian selling goods at high prices set by a committee of military unit officers, and who was doing so because he received a special appointment from the government, a governor or the brigade commander on the recommendation of the brigade's commissioned officers.

Sutlers sold all types of goods not provided by the government, and some goods that were provided but never arrived on time. They had few competitors because peddlers were not allowed in camp. But in towns, many commanders banned a sutler, allowing his men to purchase from the townspeople. In many cases, the men bought from the sutler or went without. But they weren't always satisfied. They claimed the prices were too high, weights short, and in many cases they had to use "chits" that were good only at the issuing sutler's tent.

In addition, military rule didn't allow a sutler to carry a soldier's debt to more than a third of the soldier's monthly pay. And the sutler got his money before the soldier was paid, directly from the paymaster. That's why sutlers always showed up on payday, but were noticeably absent when goods were short or their customers had used up their credit.

In addition, the sutlers were taxed by their unit, usually a percentage of their total month's business. This money went into special funds like the band, education of children born to members of the regiment, or to stock the regimental library. It also bought fruits and vegetables and special items for wounded members of the unit who were hospitalized.

When the troops were really upset, they would raid the sutler's tent, with no interference by superior officers.

One 1st Massachusetts Calvary member observed that "it is doubtful if the sutler in his regiment realized more than 300% profit."

In the main, sutlers were regarded as holding a semi-official position in their regiments and were subject to orders. The armies also moved their goods in government wagons, which didn't please commanders who needed the wagons and horses, and had to feed and maintain the horses. When the action got hot, the army also had the responsibility of moving the sutlers to the rear.

One sutler of the 1st New York Cavalry had been commissioned by the governor and thought himself a commissioned officers, so dressed like a field officers, minus the shoulder straps. One day on the road he met Gen. Phil Kearny, who was a stickler for officers dressing perfectly. He inquired of the sutler where his shoulder straps were, demanding to know his rank and regiment. The sutler explained that he was the sutler.

As Kearny's order reported, "Kearny fairly frothed at the mouth, and the atmosphere almost turned blue as the general shot out vocabulary of oaths newly coined for the occasion. He dismounted the sutler in knee-deep mud and made him good it back to the camp under the threat of putting a ball and chain on his leg."

The next morning the sutler was missing, and he didn't return from New York until he heard of Kearny's death at Chantilly.

Another sutler, Lt. J. Watts Robinson, was in the 1st U.S. Artillery when the war broke out. He was a Virginian and his wife a Northerner. He couldn't fight against Virginia, or the United States. He resigned his position and became a sutler at Fort Jefferson, Tortugas Island, and went through the war as a "neutral."

While the army had a weekly issue of meat, hardtack, flour, potatoes, beans, rice, coffee, sugar, vinegar and salt, much of the break or hardtack was wormy and the beef rotten. Instead o cooking for themselves, many soldiers threw away the rations and went to the 1860s version of the fast-food restaurant, the sutler.

Whereupon, according to one regimental surgeon, they would eat "villainous" pies fried in condemned lard a week before, resulting in camp diarrhea, dysentery and "all their concomitant evils." He wanted the government to compel the soldiers to live on government rations.

In Halltown, Va., a sutler sold cat and dog meat pies at 25 cents and ounce, but soldiers were reluctant to eat pieces from different pies at the same time, "fearing that the ingredients on coming together in one stomach would remember and revive their ancient feuds."

Federal families heard of the sutler effect on their loved ones and would send what amounted to care packages to their boys via the Adams Express Company, probably a forerunner of the UPS. If these packages were not stolen from the various warehouses in the North, the finally arrived at the proper destinations, but so late most of the food had spoiled.

Confederate units had their sutlers, but they were few and far between because the Confederacy suffered from an almost complete lack of items considered as sutler supplies during the war. Most goods for the Confederacy, civilian and military, were brought in by blockade runners.

Capt. Henry A. Castle of Co. A, 137th Illinois Infantry, described a sutler's inventory: "Effete cigars, bunch of grass filling wrapped in genuine Havanna onion leaves at Weathersfield, Conn.; rancid sardines, plug tobacco in advanced state of ossification; misfit imitations of standard monarchial beverages; wrinkled pocket mirrors, spoiled ink, spongy paper, eyeglass needles, pointless pins, bologna sausages of the conglomerate era, petrified."

And yet, every soldier became accustomed to answering two basic questions, where his regiment was camped and where the sutler had set up his hut or tent.


The following is not complete..nor is it an endorsement of any kind. The people/companies that I have put down are those that I know the e-mail address/url to..this information is only as good as the info that I receive.

Abraham's Lady

Addresses of Vendors/Sutlers

Amazon Book Store

Amazon Dry Goods

Apple Basket

Barrancas Mercantile
Pensacola, FL 32507
Civil War period men's, women's, children's clothing & accessories

Blacksmith, The
Bassett, VA 24055
Blacksmithing and wood items

Boot Makers

Blanket Brigade
Kunkletown, PA 18058
Clothing, accessories & blankets

Blue & Gray Relic Shop
Big Cove Tannery, PA 17212-9603
Original, military, Army & Navy, Artillery items

Border State Emporium
Creighton, MO 64739
General wooden, tin, copper ware, clothing, etc

Border States Leatherworks
Springdale, AR 72762
Saddles and tack for cavalry and artillery; Onsite tack repairs

Border State Sutler of Kentucky

Brigade Sutler
Meansville, GA. 30256
Tin ware, uniforms, pants, hats, swords

Bugle Call

C.J. Daley Historical Reproductions
Chewsville, MD. 21721
Clothing, equipment, blankets

C & D Jarnagin


Campaign Arms

Cedar Creek Supply Depot
Morristown, TN. 37813
Leather goods, shoes, tinware, clothing, etc.

Chris Daley's Historical Reproductions

Chuckwagon Outfitters

Civil War Caricature Collection
York, PA 17404
Prints, original artwork, minnicels, caricatures

Civil War Lady
Clarinda, IA 51632
Women's garments & accessories

Civil War Mall

Clearwater Hats

Cold Comfort Productions
Woodburn, OR. 97071
Historical theatricals & musical recordings

Colonial Treasures

Confederate States Currency

Confederate Uniforms of the Trans-Mississippi Theater

Confederate Yankee
Guilford, CT. 06437
Women's clothing, uniforms, etc.

Coon River Mercantile
Des Moines, IA. 50315
General Authentic Merchandise, military & civilian uniforms

Crescent City Sutler
Evansville, IN. 47725
Uniforms, boots, tents, tinware, insignia, leather accouterments

Curio/Antique Search

The Curiosity Shop

Dantona Faboulous Fabrics

Dell's Leatherworks
Kingston, NY 12401
Leather Reproductions, Infantry Traps & Repairs

Dirty Billy's Hats
Detour, MD 21757

Dixie Gun Works
Union City, TN 38281
Revolvers, rifles, muskets, swords, leather, etc.

Donna Lee's
Largo, FL 33778
Civil War Clothing

Dreams in Print

Drummer Boy
Milford, PA. 18337
Uniforms, insignia, leather, tinware, guns, etc.

Eagles Nest
Dobson, NC 27017
Flags, wood stools & tables, ladies accessories

Elizabeth Ann II
Ravenna, OH. 44266
Clothing, leather, tin, weapons, etc.

Fall Creek Sutlery
Whitestown, IN 46075
Authentic clothing, leathergoods, weapons, shoes, tents, drums, reference books

Family Heirloom Weavers
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Civil War cloth yard goods

Florance Drum Company
Honesdale, PA. 18431
Drums, fifes, sheet music, repairs, etc.

Forever Timeless

Frazer Brothers
Dallas, TX. 75206
Military uniforms & full equipment, shoes, guns, etc.

G. Gedley Godwin: 18th Century Military Productions

Galla Rock Shirt & Pattern
Russellville, AR. 72811
General mercantile, ladieswear, menswear

Gardner's Dulcimer Shop
Grafton, OH. 44044
Handmade dulcimers & Mt. Banjoes, vintage guitars

Gentleman's Emporium
Mason City, IA. 50401
Clothing, period writing items, tapes, cd's, books, etc.

Grady McWhiney Research Foundation,
The Buffalo Gap Western Heritage Center
Abilene, TX. 79697
Non-Profit History Research, Print & Sell Civil War Books

1860's Wet Plate Style Photo's of Your Unit!

Goose Bay Workshops -"finest historic tinware, copperware & brass

Grand Illusions

Griffin Stitchery

Haycock Wood Co.
Quakertown, PA 18951
Wooden furniture tables, desks, stools, chairs, toys

Heirloom Emporium
Strasburg, VA 22657
Clothing, hats, accessories

Heritage Reproductions

High Ground
Myersville, MD 21773
Custom tailoring, uniforms, ball gowns, gentlemens better clothing

Historic Clothiers

Hocking River Mercantile
Belpre, OH 45714
Civilian clothing for men, women & children, general store items

Images In Time
Bridgeton, NJ. 08302
Women, children, clothes & iron items, cooking hooks, etc.

Indian Creek Woodworks & Sutlery
Winnsboro, TX. 75494
Period wood products

Ironman Forge
Ottsville, PA 18942
Handforged camp items

James Country Mercantile
Liberty, MO 64048
Full line & gunsmith

James River Emporium
Richmond, VA. 23234
Ladies clothing, K.W. Watches, hair jewelry

Jas. Townsend & Son

Jessup Mercantile
Westfield, NC.
Cigars, ladies cloths, children's toys

Jeweler's Daughter
Hagerstown, MD 21740
Specializing in fine mid-Victorian reproduction jewelry

La Bonneterie Millinery


Ladies & Gentlemen's Emporium
Oakwood, IL. 61858
Dresses, hats, accessories, leathergoods

Lady In Black
Birmingham, AL. 35214
Ball gowns, tea dresses, hoops, hats

Lanternman, The
Crofton, KY. 42217
Lanterns, camp chairs, stools, tables, candles

Living History Links

Living History Music (Kent & Erica Courtney)
Hanover, PA. 17331
Music, books, tapes, CD's, etc.

Loafer's Glory Sutler
Hudson, FL 34667
Clothes, tents, guns, wood, brass, leather

Lodgewood MFG and Lodgewood Gunsmiths
Whitewater, WI. 53190
Original & Repro guns, accoutrements, field repairs

Looking Back Costumes

March Through Times
Reno, NV. 89509
Civil War Miniatures, civil war swords

Mary Jo's Fabric

Maryland Sutler
Shippensburg, PA 17257
Camp goods, pots, pans, cookware, clothing, tents

McEvoy Woodworking

Mill Creek Sutlery

Millers Bon Marche

Morningside Books

Mrs. Christen's Miscellanea

My Gun Site

Nick Sekela

Red Dragon Music

Reenactors Mall

Rizzo's Reproduction Vintage Clothing

Rockbridge Publishing

Rural Citizen

S & S Firearms

Second U. S. Artillery Horse

Second Empire Camp Furniture

Servant & Co.

Sh@mrock Hill Books/Ed. O'Dwyer

Southern Historical Showcase

Supplier Addresses 1

Supplier's Addresses and Such


Sutlers: Another List

Sutlers: Comprehensive List

Syke's Sutlery

Tempus Fugit Custom Woodworks

Tom Palla's Authenic Rounds

Victorian Millinery

Watch Dog

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Starting Point(TM)

The Web Other Search Resources

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Sutler's Web Pages

Sutler's Address and Such

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