Civil War US Engineer Uniforms
Early regiment photographs show the men wearing dark blue trousers and blue waist length jackets
with standing collars. The jackets have shoulder straps that attach at the shoulder seam and a small
button at the base of the collar and nine medium size brass buttons down the front. In late August of
1861 the governor of Michigan telegraphed the Secretary of War in Washington requesting that the War
Department provide arms and accoutrements for the 6th and 7th Regiment of Volunteer Infantry. He
also went on to explain that the 6th Regiment was issued by the state blue uniforms, undershirts, drawers,
forage caps, socks, and shoes. Along with tents, haversacks and other basic equipment. Both the 1st
and 5th Regiment would also receive this issue of clothing as soon as it was available. Blue uniforms
seem to have been used by Michigan from the beginning of the war except for a handful of volunteer
companies when they were first organized. This lasted for only a short time and was quickly corrected. It
would also seem that the typical Michigan volunteer did not wear any special insignia to designate they
were from the state of Michigan.
U.S. Uniform Regulations specified that Engineer Officers were to wear the standard officer's dress.
Officers coats were to be dark blue frock coats reaching down about 2/3s of the way between the waist
and the knee. The coat has a standing collar and three small brass buttons on each cuff. The skirts of the
frock coats also had pockets in them. Company grade (junior grade) officers' frock coats had one row
of nine medium size brass buttons and shoulder straps to indicate rank. The background color of the
shoulder straps indicated the branch of service of the officer: red for Artillery, sky blue for Infantry, yellow
for Cavalry, black for Engineers and Staff positions. Their trousers were the standard dark blue with a
gold cord down each leg 1/4" thick. Engineer officers wore a silver turreted castle within a wreath as a
cap badge. Engineer officer buttons had the motif of an eagle with a scroll in it's beak reading Essayons
flying over a bastion on water in front of a raising sun. The sashes they wore for dress occasions were
The Dress uniform for enlisted engineers was the foot soldiers' frock coat with standing collars, with nine
medium size buttons down the front and two small buttons on each sleeve. Piping around the collar and
cuffs was yellow as were NCOs chevrons. A brass turreted castle was the cap badge. Sergeants had a
1 1/2" yellow stripe on each leg and Corporals stripes were 1/2".
The Fatigue or Sack coat was worn for fatigue duty which was menial or manual labor in and around
camp. Most sack coat's were unlined but did have a large left breast pocket. The coat also features a
roll collar and four medium brass buttons. The usual length for this coat was halfway between the hip and
the knee. Even though this coat was issued for fatigue duty the average enlisted man would have worn
this instead of his dress coat in the field. If one was to study photos from this period they would find that
this was a very common practice.
The 1st Michigan Engineers portrays an impression that reflects the time period of 1862 through 1864.
Our members wear a mixture of Frock coats and Sack coats. Please see our guidelines for a better idea
of what is expected. Also, listed are the typical tools used by an engineer in the field.