Saturday, April 19, 2008

Clothing makes the man

Among my many interests pertaining to the American Civil War is material culture. Captain John Quincy Stanford, Company G, 39th Alabama was a man who loved material culture as well, his letters reflect in detail his clothing and his wants for material items. Unfortunately Stanford would be killed at the battle of Murfreesboro. Here are a few excerpts from his letters written in the late summer and fall of 1862;

"Camp Gladden near Chattanooga Tenn...August 17th 1862...My Dear Wife...last evening our Regt recd orders to Cook Two days rations and be ready at a moments notice to march So everything else was disspenced with and each one preparing for the trop or to remain at a time when we get Such orders all the Sick are exspected to Stay and then the lazy and cowardly next try to Stay and Some effect the trip. So all has been bustle and Confusion Since getting ready and there is no little to do to get a Company ready for Such after they have been Stationed a while Change guns accoutrements &c but we have completed all that and are now ready and anxcious to leave or do anything for we are not in a good humor by any means for I am as mad as ever the devel was when he was disappointed in Some great undertaking we had two orders reducing bagage &c we have now 6 flies for every one hundred men I have 5 for my Co. the others in porportion we are not allowed any boxes of any kind So it is a bad chance about carrying our provision, but I have mine packed in a barrell So I have them this time according to order. I Shall try to carry my matress two blankets and a Quilt but I dont know wheather I Suceed or not. I have packed my Camp Chest box with various articles of Clothing for myself & Co. I have a carpet bag in it and one blanket and Some large Knives and a pr of Scales I have a good Casemere Coat the Same Kind of pants & a pr of Shoes for myself & Will and in a black Carpet bag of Espys there is a pr of boots of your Brother the others are all labilled with owners names pined on each. I am going to try to Sent it home by express to the Care of A. Stow Eufaula So you may enquire for it there you will have to pay the freight before you get it Send for the box if it gets there Send each bundle home or let the owners Know as Soon as you can or Send down To Lawrenceville to Some one for distribution if you get the box let me Know What the freight was and I divide it with the Co...My Clothing now consist of my over coat one oil coat and a Short Coat. like the men have and my brown pants and those blue Casemere pants I bought 3 years ago at Lawrencevill 3 shirts 3 draws So I have plenty Clothing..."

"Harrison Landing Tenn...August 24th 1862...My Dear Eliza...I went to the river this morning took a wash put on a change of clothes and one of my green Shirts and clim the bank to my flie when I had many enquiries as to where I got them If I would Sell any of them &c now I might Sell them but it would take a good purse to get them...I want a pair of heavy jeans pants for winter with the legs Small I dont Care what Collar you can put a Stripe down the Seams Send them if you have an opportunity...I hope Monroe will bring my uniform from Columbus tho I dont Care much about it I need it Sometimes...So you will please get your ambrotype taken and Sent it to me and I will wear it with me and prize it for the Sake of the original whom I prise higher than all else on earth...I was a long time getting mine and it was the change I had in Montgomery that I got it at all it was not a good picture the best could be done in a hurry the Sash I had on would indicate me on duty as officer of the day which was my duty from there to our camp...I ahve worn a cap during this month and the Sun has burned me dark but that is So much the better for the winter is comeing when I shall need a thick Skin to Stand the Cold winter winds..."

"Tullahoma Tenn. 19th Nov 1862...My Dear Brother...I hope you will get me a good pr Boots or Shoes I had mine Spoiled by the 1/2 Sole that was put on in cleyton which is raw hide. I drew a Splendid pr of Pants made of Blue cloth for $9.50 which cost me at Clothing house $35 the Clothing was made at Opelika Singular incident for it to come to their beloved 39th Ala most all the officers present took a pair & lef plenty I will send you& Monroe a pr each I can get express Transportation their was Some good over Shirts but I did not get any of them...So now on dress parade the 39th is Spotted or Stripped Set or a variety of uniforms out Some in new Suits from fine english stock up to a fine Cloth Cap down to Slick raggs and tied up Shoes & hats &c..."

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