Living History Living History organization of the United States Navy and Marine Corps portraying sailors and marines as an infantry expeditionary force during the Civil War.
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Uniforms & Equipment
Adam in a full dress marine uniform      The most important items a new member will need in order to participate as a sailor or marine uniform is his standing equipment.   This is everything he would have on him during full dress and ready for battle.  (Adam, right, has optionally chosen to add a full dress uniform.)

     Fortunately, as we depict the crew of a ship on station along the west (gulf) coast of Florida, new members do not immediately need to purchase uniforms and arms.  By wearing "civilian" period attire, the new member can portray a hired guide or navigation pilot.  This will allow the member to order needed uniforms and equipment and still participate in events.

     There are some basic items needed to even portray a hired civilian at events.  The attire should look authentic, from the top of the head (hat) to the ground (shoes).  To go on the field all have to carry a canteen (filled) for safety reasons.  Arms are not necessary, but are encouraged.

     The new member is trained in safety as well as in close order drill and company drill.  "Loaner" weapons are usually available.  The new member needs to determine if they will portray a sailor or marine, which will aid him in obtaining equipment.  Some of the equipment is easily obtainable and other items must be made to fit (uniforms).  Use the photographs on this site as a reference.

     As mentioned earlier, the standing equipment covers the uniforms and gear (belts, weapons, etc.) ready to go.  Here is the breakdown which will vary between the sailor and marine impression:

Uniform (sailor or marine)
Belts and leather items
Weapons (musket, bayonet, cutlass, pistol)

     Although the sailor and marine uniforms are different, there is one set of items that is consistent between them.  We all use the 1853 Enfield 3-Band Rifled Musket and bayonet.  (The 1861 or 1863 Springfield is acceptable.)  We all use the standard issue canteen with dark blue cover.  We all use a white haversack.  Army "Brogans" are acceptable footwear.

     The simplest of the two uniforms is that of the enlisted Marine.
 It consists of a Marine frock coat, white "tropic" pants, chasseur cap.  The leathers consist of white cross-belts and a waist belt, plus a cap pouch and cartridge box (both for Enfields).

     More complicated the enlisted sailor's uniform consists of a flat cap, jumper tie, and trousers.  The added complications come in as there is both winter (blue) and summer (white) sets of clothing.  Also, sailors can have straw hats.
  There are several sources for sailor uniforms as well as we have patterns (Jumper/frock and undershirt) by Tom Apple.

     (Heritage Leathers, Wendell, NC, and Fall Creek Sutlery carries sailor and marine leathers.)

Making a choice: sailor or marine
     The choice is yours.   If you have no preference, we are looking for more sailors.  Currently, we have enough marines, although no one will be turned away should they decide to uniform as a Marine.  Eventually, we would like to have a higher ratio, many more Sailors than Marines.   This would be more in proportion to the original U.S.S. Fort Henry's roster where the ship had six marines with a total crew of about eighty.

Am I eligible?
     Most people are!  To maintain the look of the sailor and marine we ask you to look at several things:   Check out photos of Civil War soldiers and sailors.  Physique must be within reason.  There were no females in the navy and marine corps back then.  (A few snuck into the army, but on ship it was impossible to disguise one's body, especially on wash day.)  As we present to the public, any female that joins us must not be noticeable close up.  As we are carrying firearms and must listen to orders, members must be alert enough to not cause safety concerns and to be able to play first-person roles.

     New members are reviewed for eligibility by the staff (commissioned and non-commissioned officers), which requires a 100% confidence vote.  New commissioned and non-commissioned officers require a 100% confidence vote of all other members present (must be at least 50% of the membership present) at the event.

What should I buy first/last/not at all?
     As indicated above, the complete outfitting of the typical Civil War reenacting sailor or marine is somewhat expensive.    Shop carefully,  your shipmates will give you assistance in avoiding bad deals.  At the onset, new members will either have to purchase authentic shoes first, or use boots or shoes that look authentic.  New members should make efforts to buy or make their "kit" as soon as is practical.  An individual should acquire his uniform and equipment over time and in these recommended stages:

----------------Fast Tracking---------------

We are fortunate that the navy (unlike the army) had hired local civilian guides that were armed.  As such, we do not need to have complete marine or sailor uniforms up front. Following this process, although not mandatory, will get you on the field and into action faster:

1. Beginner Some basic civilian clothing with perhaps a flat rimmed straw hat will do for now.  Also a canteen (a must for on the field safety), and haversack (cheap and easy to find at sutlers).

2. Armed Musket and bayonet (we have a limited supply of loaners).

3. Equipped Leathers, especially cap and cartridge boxes.  They could be put on a broad black belt with a brass buckle for the civilian garb.

4. Uniformed Uniforms and remainder of the leathers.

5. Ready for everything Camp accessories: tent, cooking equipment, blanket, etc.

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