Figure 6. A Rare image of an entire regiment: the 17th Illinois photographed at Vicksburg in Spring 1864. For the most part the soldiers are wearing shell jackets. (from Davis 1983:IV:59)
Timing of Issue for Federal Shell Jackets
There is a good deal of uncertainty as to when the Federal infantry shell jacket was most common. According to discussions I have had with other Civil War uniform researchers, they are generally thought to have become common only in mid-1864. This supposition is based upon their very frequent occurrence in Carte des Visites taken during 1864 veterans furlough’s. Indeed, some are even shown wearing their veteran’s stripes on the jackets (see Figure 4 and McAfee 1982). A survey of published images, and time spent collecting provenanced CdVs, largely supports this observation -- though it appears they such jackets did exist as private purchase items (especially for NCOs), or were distributed to specific units, before this time.