Okay – I know this isn’t the prompt for this week, but I spent too much time on it to just let it sit here. If I find the time, I’ll work on the one I’m supposed to do for this week. 🙂
The Sepia Saturday prompt for Oct. 13th brought to mind a photograph of my paternal 2nd great-grandfather, John Sylvester Strange. I had a terrible time pulling the post together, and finally went with something completely different. I was making it too hard. Allow me to begin again….
John Sylvester Strange served in Company K of the 49th Indiana Infantry during the Civil War. The unit mustered in on November 21, 1861 and mustered out on November 28, 1864. As an infantry unit, they traveled 8,000 miles during those three years.
But this post is not about the details of John Sylvester Strange’s military service. This post is about his uniform.
One of my cousins has this picture hanging in her home (hopefully a better copy). A painter, working in her home, took an interest in it because he is a Civil War re-enactor. He thought the unusual design on the jacket indicated that J. S. Strange was a musician. We had heard that our ancestor was a chaplain, but never that he was a musician.
I scoured lots of Civil War images online and finally found a clue on a website (now inactive) about the 12th Indiana Regiment.
The unidentified man pictured left had the same trefoil design on his uniform jacket. The picture was listed under the heading “2nd Issue, or Zouave uniform“.
“Manufactured by tailor Jacob Staub, on [sic] Indianapolis, Indiana and purchased by the men of the 12th IN in December 1863. They wore their veteran zouave jackets with their false-vests for the duration of their enlistments. Officers and enlisted men both wore the zouave jackets. Officer’s jackets had 3 small brass buttons on the cuffs Some men wore dark blue trowsers with their jackets, but this is a large minority of the regiment. The men wore plan [sic] forage caps with the uniform, as per a standing order from their Brigade commander.”
The 1st Issue, or Regulation Uniform, it continued, “was issued by the Federal government and consisted of the Army-issued sack coat or frock-coat and a forage hat.”
In the picture on the right, J. S. Strange is wearing his Regulation Uniform frock coat. Before muster, many men had studio pictures taken in their uniforms. It is interesting to me that J. S. Strange was not photographed with any of the accoutrements of a soldier. No hat, no gun – just the coat and pants.
Rather than indicating status as a musician, J. S. Stange’s jacket in the first photograph was part of a Zouave uniform. The soldier pictured at left is wearing the uniform of a musician and carrying a musician’s sword (and forage cap).
So what is a Zouave? And why were North American Civil War soldiers wearing Zouave uniforms?
The New York 5th Infantry is one of the more famous Zouave units. As explained on their website: “The Zouave movement began in Algiers, North Africa, which French forces captured in 1830. Indigenous troops from the Zouaoua tribe who offered to serve in the occupying army were accepted into two battalions under French officers in order to protect the city and maintain peace. By 1831, King Louis Philippe of France sanctioned the use of these special Algerian Arab regiments which became known as Zouaves. The
French Zouave corps adopted the military tactics and non-western clothing of the North African troops which featured baggy trousers, short open jackets and Arab headgear – the dress of the local Turkish and African population. The ranks filled quickly with soldiers who were attracted to the adventurous life of the Zouaves, their unique esprit de corps which bound them together like a family, and relative freedom compared to the garrison life in France.”
“Of all the Civil War soldiers, the ZOUAVES (zoo’-ahvs) stand out as the most colorful and distinctive. The picturesque stye of the Zouave soldiers’ dress, their unique drill tactics and fearless demeanor in battle earned the original French Zouaves and their American counterparts the reputation of being 19th-century models of dashing gallantry and military discipline.”
Some Civil War units drilled and practiced quick-step marching and other Zouave tactics. Others simply adopted the uniform style.
If you are interested in learning more about the Zouaves or Civil War uniforms, you might take a look here, here, here, here, or here.
Quick step on over to the Sepia Saturday blog and see what’s in store today.
I love reading your blog – you have done a fantastic job !
Thanks Brian! That means a lot coming from you.
An absolutely superb post Kathy and well worth waiting for! I’m so pleased your ancestor was linked with men known for gallantry and that uniform is wonderful and was clearly worn with pride.
I never could find information to tell me if his regiment actually practiced some of the Zuoave tactics or just adopted the style. Than you for your comments!
What an interesting post. The stories being military uniforms always amaze me.
Thanks! It was all new to me!
This was a really interesting post. I had no idea.
I had never heard of this style of uniform prior to researching this. I sure don’t remember seeing any uniforms like this in history class.
There were also the so called Papal Zouaves. The majority came from Holland, France and Belgium. Also a few volunteers from N. America but none from North Africa. They volunteered to defend the Papal State in 1861. Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_Zouaves
Yes, there is so much interesting history. Thanks for including the link.
Great post, love the uniforms. What a great deal of time went into making them!!
They are something, aren’t they? Thanks for stopping by!
Interesting post. I had no idea that there were Civil War uniforms like that.
Me either! I’d never seen them before.
Great post Kathy. I wasn’t familiar with the Zouave uniform and I’m glad you included color photos. While I love black & white images, sometimes it helps to see an item in color to fully appreciate it.
Yes – you wouldn’t think soldiers would want such brightly colored uniforms. Several pictures also showed blue uniforms with yellow trim rather than the bright red.
Interesting history lesson.
Thanks, Danita. Can’t believe I’m so late getting back to my comments!
Oh, my, you certainly did work very hard on this post. It must have taken you hours to find all of this stuff, Kathy.
These uniforms are really neat. No wonder guys lined up to join. As I read this post, I kept thinking of the uncles in the movie Second Hand Lions and their adventures (though that was certainly not during The Civil War).
Thank you for the great history lesson!
I love that movie! Once I started looking for information, it was hard to stop! So, yes, a few hours were involved!
I had never heard of the Zouaves, and I found this utterly fascinating! Thanks for such a comprehensive and informative post.
Thanks for stopping by and reading! I appreciate it!
Fascinating post, a wide ranging post, what interesting uniforms, almost worth joining up for. JS Strange looks very dashing in the third photo.
I found it all very interesting and I just shared the tip of the iceberg. Thanks for your comments, Joy!
Wow, how intriguing. Such research. I noticed that fancy scroll work right off on his uniform and wondered about it’s significance. This past year we toured the Vicksburg battleground and area and also Gettysburg, so it has been a year of civil war history for me and this post fit right in. Nice and lots of great info.
Thanks, Pat! I’ve always wanted to do a tour like that. Maybe I’ll get around to it one of these days.
What a wonderful and elaborate post. And what a great series of photos! I never knew anything about the Zouave uniforms, or their style, or their history! Thank you for educating me. It just goes to show the health, persistence, and importance of local cultures and rituals!
Thanks for reading it, Mariann! I enjoyed learning about them too!
This is very interesting, Kathy! And new to me! Thanks for doing the research on it.
Hi Wilda! I found it very interesting. I hope we can learn more about his time in the Civil War.
Hi cousin! Nice to see you on here as well, Wilda. 🙂
This is my 3rd great-grandfather! The picture of J.S. Strange in the dark clothing looks SO much like my grandma! Thank you for sharing!
Hi Mia! Glad you found this. I almost shared it on your Facebook page the other day, but I see you found it on your own. 🙂 I did notice the resemblance in the picture you share of your grandmother.
Mia, Who is your grandma?
Kathy, thanks for the research!