First Virginia Cavalry


Stuart's horsemen wore chiefly homespun clothing of plain gray or butternut with black facings, or "Hussar's Bars" sewn onto the front of the jackets.  The short jackets early in the war were similar to the Richmond Depot Type I shell jacket design, which had epaulets, sleeve trim, and belt loops.  Although the traditional trim color for cavalry was yellow, the 1st Virginia wore black-trimmed uniforms instead, including a broad-brimmed black hat, often with a black plume.

Although the traditional wearing of pants was outside the tall cavalry boots, many troopers chose to tuck their pants into their boots for a bit of style.  The long gauntlet cavalry gloves were tucked in the belt when not in use.

Since uniforms were subject to wear and damage as the war bore on into later years, one might find the light blue Federal uniform pants being worn by Confederate troops in a "late war impression" as well, taken from the battlefield dead.  Indeed, much of the Confederate equipment was captured from the Union troops.  The uniforms were not reissued until 1863.  Shirts were a matter of individual choice and style, and colorful calicos as well as white muslin or plain Osnaburg cotton could be seen throughout the war on both sides.  The well known "CS" belt plate was not issued to the Army of Northern Virginia, so belt plates from earlier state militia units were often seen, as well as a captured "US" belt plate worn upside-down.

The mechanical sewing machine was available prior to the Civil War, and men's work clothing had been available "off the rack" since the mid-1850s.  It is a common fallacy that all Confederate clothing was hand-sewn.  While it is true that many uniforms and shirts were entirely hand-sewn by the tailors or ladies of the south or hand-repaired by the individual soldiers, many others were sewn by lockstitch machines.  Considerably more information on this subject will be available in our section on Civilians.

Shell Jacket

The single biggest distinguishing factor of a typical 1st Virginia Cavalryman is the shell jacket with striped facings, or "Hussar Bars" on the front.  This reflected the American fascination with European styles in pre-war militia units.

While it may be argued that uniforms eventually wore out and had to be replaced.. and the highly detailed "early war" jacket was an unlikely replacement.. we choose as a standard the original issue style as shown to the left.  This follows the Richmond Depot Type I shell jacket design, with black sleeve trim ( square, not peaked ), black shoulder epaulets, and two belt loops on the back ( not shown ).

Although records indicate that Butternut color was also found in the ranks, our standard is gray.

Uniform photo courtesy of The Quartermaster Shop , used by permission.  Thanks, Jeff..

Mounted Trousers
(spelled "trowsers" in the mid-19th century)

Mounted Trousers differed from those of the infantry in that they had a seat area which was reinforced with a double layer of cloth.  Unlike the Hollywood image of mounted cavalry wearing skin tight pants, Civil War clothing was generally tailored with plenty of room for movement, and to allow for shrinkage of the wool.

We advise all new recruits to make sure your uniform is generously cut, both for freedom of motion, and better cooling on a hot summer day at Gettysburg.

Trouser image courtesy of The Quartermaster Shop , used by permission.  Thanks, again, Jeff..


Boots were a private purchase item in the Cavalry ranks, and many troopers wore Brogans with their pants tucked snugly into their socks.

But boots were highly desirable, and we wear them as would any cavalryman of reasonable means.

Civil War boots had low, square leather heels, so avoid wasting your money on a later style "cowboy" heel.  Square toes were needed to fit well within the stirrup cups of the saddles, also preferred.  Steel heel plates are recommended but play hell on nice wooden dance floors.

Confederate-style spurs are covered in the Other Equipment section.


The hat was not issued to the soldier, and was a matter of personal choice.  Historical records indicate that the overwhelming choice of hat for the 1st Virginia was a broad-brimmed "slouch" hat - although the "crush" or shape of the crown might vary greatly from one trooper to another.

Many of the 1st Virginia also liked to wear a black ostrich plume, emulating their leader, J.E.B. Stuart.

The standard for our unit is a black hat with black ostrich plume

Parting Note: While hat, jacket, pants, and boots comprise the basic pats of the 1st Virginia Cavalry uniform, you are far from ready to take the field.  Additional items such as belt, cap box, cartridge box, carbine sling, pistol holsters, gauntlets, and saber (optional ) will be needed before you are ready to fight.


Do NOT buy anything until you have consulted with a senior member of your unit.  Most 1st Virginia Cavalry Companies have fairly strict uniform and equipment requirements, and in general a "newbie" ends up wasting a lot of money on gear that doesn't meet reasonable authenticity requirements.

Additional gear is covered in our Other Equipment section.

Introduction History of the 1st
Virginia Cavalry
 Camp Life  Uniforms  Weapons Other
Personal Items Jine the Cavalry  


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