155th PA Vol. Inf.

Home | Unit History | Uniform | 155th PA Monument | 155th PA Photos | 155th PA Today | 155th PA Items | News | Reenactors | Links | Contact/Credits Page

155th's Uniform 1862-1863

Worn from the founding of the 155th PA Volunteers in September of 1862 and through Winter 1863. The 155th was issued standard union attire, consisting of a dark blue forge cap, a 9 Button Frock/Dress coat (thigh length coat) of the same color with blue piping, 4 Button Dark Blue Sack Coat, and light blue trousers, and brogans.

'Breaking Home Ties....'
Taken from: "Under the Maltese Cross"

Courtesy: Dave Clark
Shaun Grenan & Bob Cesca

155th's Uniform Early 1864-1865
"Pearson's Zouaves"
The information can be found on pages 223-226 in the Unit's History, "Under the Maltese Cross"

Photo by: Del Hilbert, VPS
155th PA Zouave Uniform

In Late 1863 Col. Kenner Garrard, of the 146th N.Y., wanted Regiments of his Brigade (2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Corp) to be skilled in the drill style of the Zouaves, modeled after the French Light Infantry. Skills to learn included, bayonet excercises, skirmish duties and target firing. In the winter of 1863 the General was so pleased that certain Regiments, including the 155th, were granted the French Zouave Uniform. The uniforms were altered French Chasseur a Pied uniforms, which had been ordered by the US Govt., but these uniforms proved to be to small for the soldiers they had been ordered for. The uniforms were altered with the yellow trimming, and yellow tombeauxs, which made for a very attractive looking uniform. The men of the 155th were also pleased, as this was a welcome change from the drab standard Union Uniforms they had worn since their enlistment. Colonel Pearson, who had became the Colonel previous fall (1863), worked the men hard to learn the new skills congratulated the whole Regiment when issued the new uniforms, in the evening of January 19th 1864.
The 155th would wear their attractive uniform for the rest of their service. Along of the 140th NY "Ryan's Zouaves", & the 146th NY "Garrards Tigers" the 155th became what would become part of the Zouave Brigade, Ayres' 1st Brigade of Griffin's 1st Division in the 5th Army Corp.
Issued on January 19, 1864, as described in the unit history, the uniform consisted of:
- A Red Fez with a blue tassel the Traditional Zouave Head Gear, and during parades or other occasions the men wore a turban in the Turkish style, a feature which the men commented on as being the greatest and most impressive part of the uniform.
-A French Army Blue Zouave Jacket, with yellow trim, and yellow tombeaus. The Jacket has rounded front with a false vest, with 9 buttons. There are two, maybe three versions of the 155th Zouave Uniform. The second version has a slight shift in color, and some have no false vest (or it was taken out), but has a "hook and eye" at the top of the jacket to keep it closed. With a homespun lining. A red maltese cross, representing the 1st division of the 5th Corp, was worn on the tombeaux. 
-It does seem as though some of the 155th soldiers chose to retain and wear their dark blue enlisted man's vest under their Zouave jacket
-A red wool flannel sash 10 inches or 8 inches wide and 10 feet long with yellow trim is also featured with the uniform worn around the waist. It is the same the one worn by the 146th NY. The sash did not have the triangle like the 5th NY and was rarely, if ever, worn with the ends "hanging out"
-Baggy M1860 French Chasseur Trousers (not pantaloons) of the same color as the jacket, with enough material to make two pants, also added to the appearance of the soldier. These were mostly surplus from the 62nd & 83rd PA's brief run with a Chasseur Style Uniform. Most of these were from France, however, given the height/size of the Western Pennsylvania Men they chose to cease this and stuck to the Standard Federal Kit. The Surplus trousers were later distributed to the 155th along with others, mostly Western "Colored" Regiments.
-The foot-gear consisted of Jambieres (Leather Leggings, made of goat skin, painted a yellowish brown) capped the white canvas gaitors, which protected the standard brogans & bottoms of the trousers worn by the men.
-NCO Chevrons were yellow with a red backing, USMC style.

Zouave Jacket Front

Back of Jacket

Front of Pants

Back of Pants

Jambieres, Gaitors, and Fez w/ Turban

155th Zouave Style Chevrons


155th PVI Officers Uniform:
Prior to the zouave conversion of January 1864, Commissioned Officers (Lt. and up) wore standard union officer attire. Junior Officers, Lt. & Captain, wore a dark blue Officers Frock with a single line of buttons, vest, blue pants, boots, sash, sword, pistol and a hat depending on the officer's preference. Majors & Colonels wore basicly the same thing though the Frock Coat had two lines of buttons.
After the zouave conversion the uniform was left for prference of the officer. A Zouave style uniform was made for officers, consisting of the same colors, french army blue, yellow, with red trim around the cuffs, collor, and front of the jacket. The uniform consisted of a blue vest, and a shell jacket heavily trimed with yellow & red with a false vest (like the jacket worn by the men) with red cuffs, and french army blue baggy chasseur style pants(like those worn by the enlisted men, boots, sash, sword, pistol, and a red kepi trimmed with yellow.

From "Under the Maltese Cross", p. 464
Zouave Officer's Uniform of the 155th

From "Under the Maltese Cross", p. 346
Zouave Officers Uniform of the 155th

Arms of the 155th:
Originaly when the 155th PVI was organized in Pittsburgh & Harrisburg they were issued surplus Belgian Rifles with sword bayonets. These weapons upon inspection in Washington, D.C. were determined to be unfit for use in battle, by Captain A.T.A. Torbert, USA. The men of Co. K remarked in their history that "The guns were said to kill at 1,000 yards but on examination we found they would not be dangerous to the enemy unless we got close enough to bayonet or club him" 
The government then issued old style muzzle loader, "Buck & Ball", Springfield Rifles, more known as Harper's Ferry Rifles. These weapons only proved to be effective at very close range, not being much use to the combat of the time. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Colonel Cain who had been requesting more effective weapons for his men, collected newer 1861 Springfields from the thousands of dead union soldiers. Which they would continue to use till the end of the war.

Quartermaster Records:
Courtesy: Bob Cesca and the Penn. State Archives in Harrisburg
{series #19.219}Accession #3813
Records of the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs
Quarter-Master General
CLOTHING ISSUE BOOKS, 1861-1865. (40 volumes)
Clothing Book, Co.s A, B, C, 155th Infantry, Aug. 1862-May 1865 (volume 27)
Clothing Book, Co.s D, E, F, 155th Infantry, Aug. 1862-May 1865 (volume 28)
Clothing Book, Co.s G & H, 155th Infantry, Sept. 1862-May 1865 (volume 29)
Clothing Book, Co.s I & K, 155th Infantry, Sept. 1862-May 1865 (volume 30)
Descriptive Books of (PA) Regiments and Companies, 1861-1865. (5 volumes) {#19.21}
Registers of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865. (16 volumes) {#19.65}
Issued Sept. 2, 1862
(prices varied by company)
Shirt 88 cents
Pants $3.03
Overcoat (great coat) $7.20
Dress coat (the blue piped frock) $6.71
Socks 26 cents
Drawers 50 cents
Knapsack (gov owned)
Canteen "
Haversack "
Scales  "
Blanket $2.95
Cap 63 cents
Shoes $1.90
A majority of the men bought sack coats at Falmouth/Fredericksburg on or around 11/30/62 ($2.63 - $3.14 prices varied for some reason).
The complete zouave uniforms were $15.33 (issued 01/31/64).  Replacement item costs:  turbans were 77 cents; zouave shirts (were all labeled "zov shirt") were $1.90; the leather leggins or jambieres were $1.  Zouave pantaloons were $3.27.  A fez was $1.25.

1950's Print
Illustrates some common misconceptions of the uniform

Uniform Misconceptions
There are some common misconceptions of the 155th PVI's Zouave Uniform. One is the colour, in the unit history it is described as dark blue, it is actually French Blue( as seen in the pictures above of reproductions). The misconceptions get borne out of the fact that there a so few surviving Uniforms, and when those uniforms are photographed or seen in a low light surrounding they appear dark blue. The 155th was one a small few to use that color. Not to mention only a few 155th reenactors.
The print shown to the left is a perfect of the misconceptions of the 155th uniform. The print shows the uniform as a very dark blue, also note the buttons on the cuffs (a common feature on Zouave Jackets, but the 155th's), & the red tassel on the fez. The Troiani Print from 1993 (not shown) is a very close representation of the uniform in many ways, except the buttons on the false vest are on the wrong side, and the sash is to skinny and features a triangle ala the 5th NY's sash.
(As pointed out by Aaron Hooks, It should be noted that no sashes from the 155th survive to this day, the triangle denotes membership in the Freemasons. However sashes from the 146th NY & 140th NY, different color but same design, both follow the same design & do not have the triangle & both are 10 inches wide and 10 feet long)