Sometime during the authentic rush to construct ‘generic’ impressions, some major Federal garments have been dropped in the dust. The most important of these is the Federal Shell Jacket. Though such garments still crop up in Authentic, single-impression units, especially those representing units from New York, they are rarely trumpeted as appropriate wear for the ‘Generic Hardcore’. This article will attempt to strike a blow against this myth.
In ‘campaigner’ literature there is a boggling dearth of reference to the Federal Shell Jacket or Roundabout. When it is mentioned, it is usually with reference to the fact that certain states – especially New York and Illinois -- had special ‘state issue’ jackets that could be appropriate for those specific impressions. Only CJ Daley (www.cjdaley.com) seems to be giving the Federal Shell Jacket its due, noting that “similar jackets appear in photos of Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin.., and Missouri troops.” To this list I can add Michigan and Pennsylvania (see Figures 1&2, below). However, it is not always clear whether these men are wearing specific state-issue jackets or shell jackets of Federal manufacture. This is because national uniform jackets, intended for general infantry issue, were made in quantity at the Schuylkill arsenal. Of these Daley notes that the Schuylkill infantry uniform jacket was “the most commonly issued jacket worn during the war. It can be seen in images in every theatre of the war.” Unfortunately, I am unaware of any researcher who has tried to disentangle Federal from State issue shell jackets or summarise their characteristic in any meaningful way. Here, I will try to make a first tentative attempt at this -- as well as list available patterns and ready-made shell jackets.