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CIVIL WAR UNION CAVALRY ENLISTED MAN’S SHELL JACKET – VERY NICE CONDITION w/ GOVERNMENT SIZE STAMP AND IDENTIFIED WITH HANDWRITTEN SOLDIER’S NAME:   One of the signature uniforms of the Civil War, the Mounted Enlisted Man’s Shell Jacket featuring tailored lines and trimmed in piping of the color of the branch of service – orange for dragoon, green for mounted rifles, yellow for cavalry, and red for artillery – was at the same time one of the most attractive, and comfortable uniform coats of the war.  Far lighter than the heavier frock and sack coats characteristically worn by the foot soldiers, the fitted lines defined by the colored piping presented a dashing appearance when worn by the mounted troopers.   

This Cavalry Shell Jacket has survived the years in very good condition.  While showing minor evidence of wear or aging as detailed below, the blue wool is in very good condition overall - very solid with all of the seams are intact.  Both of the sabre belt supports – often referred to as “pillows” - are present and intact on the back of the jacket.   

The body of the jacket and both sleeves are fully lined with natural cotton cloth.  The lining is complete, with some the minor wear commonly found in the armpit areas.  There is a deep slash pocket lined with natural colored cotton cloth on the inside left front edge of the jacket. 

Across the upper back of the interior lining is the hand written inscription “REEDY”, apparently the name of the soldier who was issued, and wore, this jacket.  A search of the National Park Service’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database revealed twenty-three (23) soldiers with the last name of “Reedy” who served in Union cavalry regiments during the Civil War.  A printed list of these 23 soldiers will accompany the sale of this shell jacket.   

The lining of the right sleeve, just below the shoulder, is ink stamped with the original Quartermaster Department applied numeral “2”, indicating the size.   

Inside the left sleeve, just below the shoulder, is a light ink stamp, “EAVES”, indicating that this jacket was once in the inventory of the Eaves Costume Company of New York City.  Harry Eaves established his firm in Manhattan in 1863, and was still in business after World War One, advertising the company as "The World's Largest Rental Costumers".  It is of no surprise that this jacket is so marked, as many surviving examples of these shell jackets bear the ink stamps of a number of different costume companies who carried these striking uniforms in their inventories.  In reality, were it not for these jackets being cared for by the costume companies through the years, very few would exist today.    

It is worth noting that two of the soldiers named “Reedy” which are listed in the National Park Service’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database served in New York regiments.  As most of the Civil War soldiers, lacking any alternative clothing, wore their uniforms home at the end of the war after being discharged, it is entirely possible that one of those two New York cavalrymen sold their uniform to Eaves once they had resettled into their civilian lives.  

The yellow trim on the collar, cuffs, the “V” shaped yellow trim on the reverse, and around the bottom edge of the jacket is completely intact.  There are some minor snags and wear points, but nothing significant.   

All of the standard pattern US Army general service brass buttons are present on collar trim, the front, and on the functional cuffs.  All of the buttons are full form with no dents or depressions, save for one of the buttons on each cuff.  The domes of these two buttons are slightly depressed, but not significantly malformed.  The throat hook and eye closure is present.   

There is some surface mothing on the front of the breast.  There are some small moth holes – all less than 1/8” in diameter, low on the front and on both sleeves.  The most significant mothing to the cloth is in the area under the left armpit and is detailed in the photographs below.  This mothing in the armpit is not visible when the jacket is on display.  None of this mothing is boldly apparent and is not unusually severe than what is normally found on these shell jackets.   

This is a very attractive specimen of one of the most iconic uniforms of the Civil War. While this Cavalry Enlisted Man’s Shell Jacket shows true evidence of having been worn by a soldier in the field, and has the added value of his name applied to the lining, it has survived in very good condition and would display nicely. (0935) $2750

NOTE:  To say that photographing dark blue wool is a challenge is an understatement.  In normal lighting, it appears black and none of the finer features or condition details can be seen clearly in the photographs.  In order to highlight the features and provide you with an accurate view of the material, I have to lighten the contrast of some of the photographs which in turn causes the even colored dark blue wool to appear faded or discolored when such is not the case.  This coat is an even dark blue color with no fading or discoloration. 



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