Dressing Like a Soldier

Jacket from the 17th Indiana

As the volunteers flooded into Indianapolis, Governor Morton had to begin thinking about equipping these young men for war.

During the month of May 1861, events were continuing to push everyone toward war.  More states were seceding each day.  On May 6, the ninth and tenth states left the union–Alabama and Tennessee.  On May 20, the eleventh and final full state to leave the union officially voted for secession–North Carolina.  That same day the governor of Kentucky declared neutrality and insisted there should be “no movement upon Kentucky soil” by either army.

The very next day, May 21, the Quartermaster General of Indiana entered into the following contracts for clothing for the Indiana boys:

To Glazer & Brothers of Indianapolis for 740 suits, jackets and pants, gray sattinets, $7.

(sattinet/satinet/satinette = a satin weave fabric made with cotton warp and wool filling, fulled and finished to resemble wool or a thin, light satin.)

To Gelzendorf & Company of Indianapolis for one regiment, 740 suits, blue jeans, jacket and pants at $6.75.

To Stadley, Brother & Company and Dessar & Brothers of Indianapolis for one regiment, 740 suits gray sattinet, jacket and pants at $7.50.

To Lewis Froshman of Cincinnati for one regiment, gray sattinet, jacket and pants at $6.95.

To Simonds, Brother & Company of Indianapolis for one regiment, blue sattinet, jacket and pants at $6.50.

To Simon & Son for one regiment, blue sattinet, jacket and pants at $7.50.

To Glazer & Brothers of Indianapolis for 2,000 pairs blankets, six pounds at $3.10

To P.H. Lewis & Brother of New York for 9,000 flannel shirts at $1.08 and 1/3.

To Benedict, Hall & Company of New York for 3,740 pairs shoes at $1.25.

To James J. Irwin of Columbus, Indiana for 740 pairs shoes at $1.25.

Civil War shoes

To Glazer & Brother of Indianapolis for 9,200 pairs drill drawers at 31 cents.

To Cole & Hopkins of Cincinnati for 750 dozen home-made wool socks at $3.40.

To W.C. Whitcher & Company of Cinicnnati for 3 regiments hats, 2,229 at $1.

W. B. Dodd & Company for 3 regiments hats, 2,229 at $1.

With these clothes, shoes and blankets, the boys from Indiana were one step closer to war.

These supplies brought the total number of Indiana regiments uniformed and prepared for war to twelve.  The first six were three-months units.  These were already formed, uniformed and armed.  Within weeks, they would be on their way.

The next six units were to be clothed and supplied by the above-listed contracts.  These units were positioned at the borders of the state–one at Richmond, one at Terre Haute, one at Lafayette and then two in Indianapolis–to protect Indiana.  More units–particularly cavalry–were to be raised for the other border counties.

In Indiana, more volunteers came forward than were needed to meet the quota set by President Lincoln.  Governor Oliver P. Morton was quick to raise the troops, to equip them and to offer them to Lincoln.

The boys who put on these clothes may have felt a little more like warriors.  I know when I wear a suit, I feel more like a preacher.  It doesn’t change what I know or how eloquent I am, but somehow it changes my perception of myself and gives me some confidence.

When I was a high school student and put on my soccer uniform, I felt a little more the athlete.  It didn’t change my skill level or degree of physical fitness, but somehow it changed how I thought about myself and reminded me I was part of a team.

When my great-great grandfather L.K. Harris put on his new government-issue jacket, drawers, socks and all the rest, he probably began to feel like a soldier.

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