The 14th Brooklyn Uniform


    Over the up coming months I will be adding information to this page concerning the Civil War era Chasseur pattern uniform of the 14th New York State Militia Infantry, "14th Brooklyn". This information is based on my research notes gathered during my forty plus years of association with the reactivated 14th Brooklyn regiment. This material is to advise, inform and be of service to the general membership of the various reactivated 14th Brooklyn companies in bettering the uniform aspects of their impression.

    The first entry will be trousers and that information now follows.

14th Brooklyn Trousers

The two pair of original enlisted man's 14th NYSM trousers I have had the privilege of inspecting were made of a lightweight madder red wool flannel and fully lined in unbleached cotton drill (approximately an 8 oz. drill). The waistband facings, fly facings and pocket bags were likewise this same cotton drill material. One of these trousers possessed five 3/4" in diameter pressed black cardboard buttons (probably a civilian button of the era) on the waistband and had four small 1/2" in diameter foral design (civilian) brass buttons in the fly. The second pair had five 3/4" black (enameled) buttons (probably tin) on the waistband and five similarly patterned ones in the fly. Both these trousers had two rear adjustment belts with a two-tine buckle for adjustment. One buckle was natural colored brass and the second was black enameled steel.

Generally, both of these trousers were machine-sewn on the main seams and featured hand-felling on the waistband and fly facings. However, one pair possessed a bit more hand-sewing in them by having a hand-set/hand-sewn left side fly panel assembly, hand-felled inside pocket facings, hand-sew top stitching on the outer fly panel edges and hand-top stitching along pocket openings. It also had a portion or length of the lining in the rear of the trousers rolled under and hand-hemmed. Both pair had hand-sewn buttonholes of course. The thread used to sew one of these trousers was an unbleached or natural color cotton thread very similar to a light khaki color. The second pair inspected likewise had what appeared to be a natural colored thread BUT, there was some solid speculation that the thread used on this pair may have originally been dark blue. This speculation was raised because the thread seemed darker in some areas or lengths as opposed to other areas. This very same trait has been noted numerous times on original Federal issue trousers where the thread was in fact dark blue in the beginning before it eventually faded.

Both 14th Brooklyn trousers were pleated in the waist and had two pleats per panel for a total of eight pleats on the trousers (one pair had the pleats tacked down by hand). However, I saw an original image of a 14th Brooklyn soldier wearing trousers with what evidently was three pleats per panel. Of course such variations were not uncommon in the least. The main pockets were the vertical side seam pattern and no watch pocket was evident on either pair. Cuffs were simply rolled under and hemmed down by hand.

These two original enlisted man's trousers were mass produced items and possessed a "JOS. JONES, N.Y." inspector's stamp. Inspector's stamps came into use in 1862 and Jones was an inspector at the New York Depot located in Manhattan. No maker's or size stamps were noted (although one or the other may have been there originally and subsequently faded.

IMPORTANT FINAL NOTE ON TROUSERS: The two pair I had seen were made of lightweight wool flannel. Whatever tailor or seamstress you contract with for a pair of trousers, DO NOT use wool flannel. While it is historically correct, wool flannel trousers will not last you more than a year at very best - just like back then. So while the original guys in the 14th could get another pair from the quartermaster, you'll have to revisit your tailor or seamstress - and that will be expensive. Best advice: get them in a medium to heavyweight wool so they will last you.

14th Brooklyn Tunics

As with the trousers I have had the opportunity to inspect several original relic 14th Brooklyn enlisted men's Chasseur pattern tunics. These tunics were made of either a lightweight MEDIUM dark blue wool flannel (like Federal sack coat flannel) or a finer grade of wool broadcloth. The two tunics made from broadcloth were evidently privately tailored/privately purchased items whereas the ones made from wool flannel were the regular issue tunics purchased by the city. All these tunics were fully lined in unbleached cotton drill (approximately 8 oz. drill) with unbleached muslin in the sleeves. The waistbands were faced (lined) with a brownish burlap-like fabric. The false vests as well as the cuff and skirt flashings were made in a madder red (like a brick red) wool. Each tunic had a vertical opening internal left breast pocket pocket. ALL seams were exposed and those in the body and entirely hand felled. The collars were faced on the inside (the portion against the neck) in thin RED LEATHER with the leather pieces hand stitched to the woolen front portion. Both the collar and the waistband had black steel hooks & eyes for closure. While some were missing in a couple tunics it was easy to see that they were there at one time.

A number of original relic tunics inspected possessed an inspector’s stamp from the New York Depot - "JOS. JONES, N.Y." ). Buttons were small (approximately 3/8 in diameter) stamped domed brass. I have seen button count vary among some of the 14th Brooklyn tunics in both what I have seen in hand and in photographs. However, the most common count per jacket was 56; 14 on the vest, 14 on either front breast panel and the remaining 14 distributed among the four flashings - some had three per and some had four per. In the majority of the tunics inspected the button were LACED on using a thin white cotton twill tape. On some examples the buttons on the flashings were laced on and on some they were sewn on. However, I suspect that the most common practice was to lace them all on. All button holes in the vest were naturally hand sewn.

Finally there is some thought that the jackets may have been assembled in stages at various locations. Some of the tunics had both dark blue as well as natural tan thread used in their manufacture - blue on the body and tan for the finishing work (vests, button holes, flashings, etc.)

Advance on PAGE 4 for the AUTHENTICITY GUIDE.