Devil Gear, circa 1860s

While the Union Army during the Civil War numbered a whopping 2,213,000 individuals in service between the regulars, USCT, and myriad of state volunteer units taken on the roles, the peak strength of the U.S. Marine Corps during the conflict only hit 3,860 officers and men, making them one of the smallest units in Federal service– and their uniforms among the rarest today.

Washington, D.C. Six marines with rifles and fixed bayonets at the Navy Yard. LC-DIG-cwpb-04148

Assorted studio portraits of individual Civil War era U.S. Marines in the Liljenquist collection of the Library of Congress.

You’d never know their dress uniforms were brilliant blue with gold-yellow facings and epaulets from the existing photos.

The Horse Soldier, an upscale military antique store in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– which sold many of the above studio images to the LOC– has just an incredible find in their collection. 

On display (and for sale of course) at the shop. One of the rarest Civil War uniform groups. This Marine Corps uniform group belonged to Private John Hammond and includes his dress coat with epaulets, shako, fatigue cap, trousers, and rarest of the rare, his knapsack marked “USM.”

Hammond was a shoemaker who enlisted in the Marine Corps in Boston to serve four years on May 15, 1861, and served until discharge on August 24, 1865, at the barracks in Boston. His trousers have the marking of the frigate USS Santee, one of Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron’s most active ships, on the pocket.

One comment

  • George William Clever

    Interesting history of the Marine Corps during the Yankee War of Aggression. 60% of the Marines fought for the Confederacy. Most likely because they were southerners. This fact cost me in a teaching contest judged by a Yankee Marine Colonel.

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