Battleshirts & Overshirts.
Worn in lieu of proper uniforms, or as part of the civilian's occupational costume, the overshirt was a common garment in the mid-19th century. Red, blue, grey, white, and striped flannel shirts are frequently found in merchandise listings of ready-made clothes dealers of the period, and photographic evidence shows that these were favored by firemen, sailors, and other manual laborers for their durability yet light weight. Many images of early California prospectors show overshirts being worn. When the call to arms was sounded, these shirts were quick-fixes to the problem of uniforming volunteers. Given a bit more of a "military" appearance with the addition of tape trim and brass buttons, these "battleshirts" were seen in great numbers on the early battlefields of the war. Contact us to discuss what sort of replica you want. Drawing on notes from shirts we have examined and from photographs of different shapes and styles, we will work with you to make exactly what you want.
Battleshirt of blue flannel, trimmed with red wool tape for early-war Confederate militia impression.
Check the "In Stock" page to see if there are any shirts on hand!
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Cuff buttons are bone, placket buttons are brass domes.
Original ambrotype of a fireman wearing plastron (bib) front shirt (l.), and an ambrotype taken by Ray Morgenweck in 2003 (r.) of our replica.
Red flannel overshirt (regular front opening) as worn on the set of "No Retreat From Destiny" during Richmond bread riot scene.
Please contact us with your ideas, and we will quote an estimated price.
Shirts start at $100 for plain-cut, wool flannel, and go up to $160 for trim and other customizations.