Re: Improving Artillery Uniforms
This is an excellent topic. First of all, let me throw some gas on the fire by saying that we redlegs should take ownership of our impressions and not allow the infantry to dictate it to us. The hobby is geared toward infantrymen and all the prejudices that accompany branch rivalries.
Fortunately for my detachment, we have access to at least one existing mid-war enlisted jacket, and Troiani owns a Lts jacket captured in November 1862 that may have come from our forebearers. And then there's the red faced CD jacket captured at Port Hudson. So, we are rather fortunate at Vicksburg in that we have an abundance of examples for our time and place.
Unfortunately, very few units can claim the advantage of having surviving examples to look at. From my research and viewing of surviving jackets, most officers had red branch colors on their jackets, be it red piping or collar facing. The red faced CD jacket from Port Hudson, (which I think is posted on Daley's website) appears to be an enlisted jacket to which an officer added collar bars.
As for my unit, they likely wore blue trimmed jean jackets, but I do not advocate the complete absense of red among enlisted men, for if you look at surviving artillery uniforms in proportion to the surving infantry uniforms, red is well represented. My call is for moderation in the Western Theater: some red facing on CD Jackets; no red piping or stripes on trousers after 1862, and no red kepis or forage caps among the enlisted men. And absolutely never ever any red firemen's shirts! In short, red should be worn like it was hard to get; present but not overwhelming.
Now, for boots. I've seen enough period photos to indicate a meaningful number of artillery boots among Union soldiers, but have no evidence for the Confederacy. Everyone in our hobby wants to look like JEB Stuart, and wear inordinately high boots with dressed trousers. I would limit artillery boots to less than 5% per detachment, possibly none. I have a pair, and I wear my trousers dressed because of the super abundance of chiggers in our park. (Those of you who did the Vick living history event last summer know what I'm talking about. haha)
Now, here's where more variables come into play. My detachment was recruited in the area where it served for most of the war. For that reason, the men would have had more access to clothing from home: cleaner shirts, better socks, better slouch hats, etc. than would have been typical for most units.
Now for the horror stories I have personally witnessed: white painters pants with the GAP tags still on them. Crews completely outfitted in JEB Stuart boots. Forage caps with every conceivable piece of hardware available pinned to them. Every member of the crew in thick gray wool trousers with inch-wide red stripes. Crews that were identically uniformed. Slouch hats with Union branch cords on them. Shell jackets straight out of a 50s movie--blanket wool and four inches of red sleeve trim. And I could go on.
David Slay, Ph.D
Ranger, Vicksburg National Military Park