ONV Uniform and Equipment Standards


The Old Northwest Volunteers is composed of the finest living historians in the Upper Midwest and abroad for a unique opportunity to work together as an accurate entity. Please note most of our uniform and equipage requirements will be determined per event standards. In addition, we expect all members of the Old Northwest Volunteers to maintain a high level of portrayal as detailed in our uniform and equipage standards. Each participant should strive to always improve their impression and knowledge of material culture. All uniform and equipage must be accurate in terms of pattern, construction, and materials compared with original articles at all times. Unacceptable uniform and equipage will be removed. Please do not embarrass yourself and your messmates by not meeting event and/or Old Northwest Volunteers Standards.


Fatigue Blouse:

To be made of 5 ½ oz. indigo dyed wool flannel with a noticeable weave in the material. Correct square corner or kidney shaped breast pocket. Four ¾ inch general service eagle buttons attached by hand.

Fatigue blouses can be either lined (preferred) or unlined. Wool flannel lining can be tan, gray, brown, or blue with corresponding cotton muslin sleeve lining sewn in by hand.

Unlined coats should have hand flat felled seams.

All buttonholes shall be entirely hand sewn using blue, black, or logwood faded (brown) linen or cotton thread. Contract or Arsenal pieces are acceptable. Stick to the four standard sizes of the Quartermaster Department if possible to create the proper look.

Uniform Coat:

The dress coat must be made of an indigo dyed wool cloth (broadcloth), a standing collar, skirt with two rear pockets, 1/4 inch padded black or brown polished cotton chest lining, cotton muslin sleeve lining, saxony blue/sky blue (not baby blue) piping or welting on collar, cuffs, and vertical piping or welting along the cuff split.

Eyes and hooks should be attached at the collar and corners of the skirt. There is no internal pocket in this coat, and there is no lining in the back of the coat body or the skirt.

Buttonholes shall be all hand sewn using blue, black, or logwood faded (brown) linen or cotton thread. Uniform coats must have nine 3/4 inch general service eagle buttons on body front, two 3/4 inch general service eagle buttons in back (above the skirt tails), and two 5/8 inch general service eagle buttons on each functional cuff. Stick to the four standard sizes of the Quartermaster Department if possible to create the proper look.


Foot Pattern only. Some features include a greenish cast sky blue kersey wool with a diagonal weave, standing three inch collar, two sets of hooks and eyes, hand sewn button holes and buttons using dark blue or logwood faded (brown) cotton or linen thread, body lining of dark blue kersey wool or a light brown wool & cotton/linen mixed lining, sleeve lining of cotton muslin, cape with six 5/8 inch general service eagle buttons, front with five ¾ inch general service eagle buttons, back half belt with two ¾ inch general service eagle buttons attached, two piece cuffs, and a unhemmed skirt bottom. All documented arsenal and contract patterns of correct construction are acceptable.


To be made of a greenish cast sky blue kersey wool with a diagonal weave, correct rise of trowsers in the seat (back yoke), right side watch pocket, narrow tapered waistband, four or six stamped paper backed tin suspender buttons, five small paper back tin fly buttons, side seam pockets, correct overlapping cuff vents with internal cuff facings, correct fly panels and facings, etc.

Buttonholes and tieback grommet holes should be hand sewn with dark blue or logwood-dyed cotton or linen thread. Contract or Arsenal pieces are acceptable. Stick to the four standard sizes of the Quartermaster Department if possible to create the proper look.

Pattern of 1858 Dress Hat:

To be made of black rabbit or wool felt, with a 2.5 inch black leather sweatband or a late war maroon embossed leather sweatband, the hat has a 3 inch brim, 5.5 inch crown height, has double row brim stitching at 4 stitches per inch, a black silk grosgrain ribbon surrounding the base of the crown, and a black oilcloth or paper crown label.

Forage Cap:

So- called Type 1 (typically a smaller curved brim) which is preferred or so- called Type 2 (typically a larger rectangular brim) patterns acceptable. Made of finely woven indigo dyed wool flannel, with a polished cotton lining of black or dark brown, hand sewn sweatband, thin painted leather black brim, chin strap, and two 5/8 inch general service eagle buttons attached on each side of the chin strap. Please do not wear like a baseball cap. Seek out period field photographs for the correct way to push up your brim. Arsenal or contract patterns based off of originals are acceptable.

Civilian Hat:

Documented pattern, construction, and materials only. Should wear a popular style of hat available to troops such as the plug, porkpie, or slouch. Correct brim edging, lining, and sweatband per original specimens.

U.S. Pattern Jefferson Bootees:

Black dyed, semi rough out leather, squared front, one inch heels, four sets of shoelace holes with one in the vamp, accompanied with leather shoelaces. Leather soles can be either pegged or sewn. Heel rims, inlet heel rims, and hobnails are all acceptable.

Civilian Shirt:

The body of the shirt may be either hand or machine stitched, but entirely hand sewn civilian shirts (which were more common) are preferred. All buttons & buttonholes shall be entirely sewn by hand. Hand felled seams, woven shirt patterns, square gussets or the set in sleeve, and cotton and linen materials should be common features in Civil War era civilian shirts. All civilian shirts must be based on a documented pattern, construction techniques, and materials.

Correct buttons of bone, shell, china, milk glass, hard rubber, or wood in two or four hole styles shall be attached by hand.

Federal Issue Shirt:

Made of domet wool flannel, completely hand sewn, incorporating a rectangular body with square gussets, produced in one size. Also acceptable are contract variant issue shirts of documented pattern, construction, and materials.


Either Federal Issue pattern or civilian patterns acceptable. Federal issue drawers should be made of cotton canton flannel, with cotton tape ties in the rear and the ankles. Hand sewn paperback tin buttons, buttonholes, and tieback grommet holes. These should wear high on the waist.

Civilian drawers should be made of fabrics such as cotton catton flannel, cotton osnaburg, or linen. Other features include hand-sewn buttonholes, buttons, and tieback grommet holes. Buttons may be bone, china, or other documented compositions. Civilian drawers should also ride rather high on the waist.


Federal Issue wool stockings or civilian patterns either hand sewn (preferred) or period machine construction. Can be of wool or cotton materials based on a documented pattern. Darker colors preferred in civilian stockings.


They were made out of cotton drill or linen, with differing degrees of sophistication. Common styles ranged from simple straps with hand-sewn buttonholes (poorboys), to sewn straps with two or three tined brass adjustments & leather ends on each side. Any documented suspenders of correct pattern, construction, and materials are acceptable.


For those who need vision correction, you must purchase a set of period eyeglasses filled with your prescription, wear contact lenses, or go with out any which is very correct.

Cartridge Box:

U.S. Pattern of 1857 & 1861 .58 caliber cartridge boxes are all acceptable. Cartridge boxes should be sewn by hand using waxed linen thread, comprised of tanned leather, dyed black, with tins, and cartridge box plate attached with a small piece of leather.

Cartridge Box Belt:

Made of bridle leather, dyed black, 2.25 inches wide, and 55.5 inches long clear of billets. Billets (two narrow four hole adjustment strips) should be 4.25 inches in length at each end of the belt. The total length of the cartridge box belt is 64 inches. The cartridge box belt should be shortened so the top of the cartridge box is no lower than the bottom of the waistbelt. The round eagle cartridge box belt plate (breastplate) should be attached using a small piece of leather.

U.S. Pattern Waistbelt:

Made of bridle leather, dyed black, 1.9 inches wide, 38.5 inches long with standing leather loop keeper for early –mid war impressions and the brass belt keeper for impressions after 1863. Can also go without any belt keeper as noted by several documented specimens in which their owner cut-off the keeper due to the awkwardness of this device. Lead backed belt plate with either early-mid war stud backed plate or later war arrow back plate to be used according to the desired scenario portrayed.

U.S. Pattern 1850 Cap Box:

Made of bridle leather, dyed black, has a outer flap with latching tab, wool strip hand sewn to the back of the inner flap, cone pick loop, riveted brass finial, and two waistbelt loops which were hand sewn to the back of the cap box. May also have small copper rivets to hold waistbelt loops onto the cap box as seen in some contractor pieces. Once again, the cap box should be entirely hand sewn. Shield front cap boxes are also acceptable. Arsenal or contract pieces acceptable.

U.S. Pattern Bayonet Scabbard:

Must be of U.S. Pattern, no British Enfield Scabbards allowed. We prefer either the early war, “Gaylord,” pattern two rivet sewn style, or the pattern 1863 seven rivet bayonet scabbard. These bayonet scabbards were made of black dyed bridle leather and featured attached frogs of either bridle or buff leather. All bayonet scabbards must have a secure brass tip. Once again, this item should be hand sewn.

U.S. Pattern 1851 Haversack:

Some basic features include machine or hand sewn construction, black tarred exterior coating that may seep into the interior, cotton or linen inner bag attached by three hand sewn 5/8 inch tin buttons, hand sewn inner bag button holes, black 5/8 inch roller buckle, and a one piece shoulder strap of 40 to 45 inches in length.

Haversacks must ride at the small of the back, with the top of the haversack no lower than the waistbelt. To make adjustments, either cut and re-sew the strap or fold over the excess portion and re-sew using 100% cotton or linen black thread.

U.S. Pattern 1858 Smoothside Canteen:

Must be a U.S. Pattern 1858 Smoothside Canteen, with correct brownish/gray jean wool cover, pewter spout, cloth strap, jack chain (New York Depot only!) or string stopper attachment. If string is used, then the tin strap brackets should not have a punched in hole.
The canteen must ride at the small of the back. Proper means of strap adjustment include cutting the strap and re-sewing it using 100% cotton or linen thread, or tying a knot in the strap.
Canteen straps shall be determined per event scenario. Soldiers wearing New York Depot or Schuykill Arsenal canteens should use the leather canteen strap up until the fall of 1862. After the fall of 1862, New York and Schuykill Arsenal canteen’s wearers should use the cotton canteen strap. Cincinnati and St. Louis depots seemed to have used the cotton strap throughout wartime production.

U.S. Pattern 1855 Doublebag Knapsack:

Hand or machine sewn linen body tarred black with a glossy appearance, black dyed shoulder straps, blackened buckles, hand sewn buckles & keepers, reinforcements of split leather, and overcoat straps. Arsenal or contract versions of documented prevalence are acceptable.

U.S. Issue Rubber Blanket:

Made of rubber with a white linen backing, small brass grommets, with typical dimensions of 46” x 71”.

U.S. Issue Blanket:

Must be of a documented pattern, construction and materials. Can be either the gray issue wool blanket with black woven end stripes & 4 to 4.5 inch US letters stitched in the middle of the blanket, or the brown issue blanket with woven brown end stripes & 4 to 4.5 inch US letters stitched in the middle of the blanket. Blankets should not have bound edges, if they do, they must be removed. All blankets should have a noticeable diagonal weave, especially visible in the end stripes. Dimensions should be close to 7 feet x 5 feet, six inches, weighting about five pounds.

U.S. Issue Shelter Half:

Shelter halves shall be made of 8 ounce cotton duck, with twenty three hand sewn bone or tin buttons & buttonholes of waxed cotton thread, and 8 hand sewn grommets holes (includes the guy rope and pole grommets). Shelter halves with machine-sewn grommets, buttons, & buttonholes are not acceptable.

Shelter halves should have a guy rope of six-thread manila line that extends six feet, ten inches in length. The same manila line is also used for the tent stake loops. The shelter half may be made of early war three panel sections, or the later war two panel sections of cotton duck depending on our impression. Tabby weave and blue line canvas material is also acceptable if patterned after a documented original shelter half.


Model of 1861 Springfield rifle-musket or the Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle-musket preferred. All modern makers’ marks should be removed, and any necessary modifications are made to ensure the accuracy of your rifle-musket. Original rifle muskets can be used as well.


You also need to purchase a corresponding pattern bayonet for your rifle-musket, most likely the Model 1855. Make sure it fits on your rifle-musket properly before purchasing. File off any modern markings. Original bayonets are even better.

Mess Furniture:

A soldiers mess items should consist of a tin cup or fruit can boiler, knife, fork, & sthingy (or combination set), and a plate/canteen half. Must be of documented patterns, construction, and materials based on original artifacts. No Stainless Steel items allowed.

Personal Items:

These items should generally be carried in a soldier’s pockets or knapsack. Some items are only appropriate for a camp impression. These should be rather limited in your kit. Must be copied from a documented article with correct patterns, materials, and construction.

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