11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry Reenactors
Making The History of the Western Cavalryman Come Alive

Uniforms & Equipment

Due to the variety of events that we attend around the country, we portray many different cavalry units in addition to the unit that we are named after (the 11th Ohio). For this reason we must divide our uniform requirements between two distinct categories:

  1. Civil War Standards: "Generic" cavalry gear that will allow us to portray many active civil war units (eastern & western theatre). It must be noted that each Civil War event that our unit attends back east will establish specific uniform guidelines for each event which will be very dependent on what unit we are to portray.
  2. 11th Ohio Standards: These standards are enforced when portraying the 11th Ohio during living histories, reenactments, etc. on a local level. As noted below, the specific uniform standards that apply to the 11th OVC can be quite complex. Since the entire regiment was never actually assembled at a single location through its history, each company of the regiment has very distinct and unique uniform differences. Our uniform requirements are very dependent on what company of the 11th OVC we plan to portray. It must also be noted that many of the arms are either hard to acquire as reproductions (Spencer Rifles) or have never been reproduced. Some of our number ride with original arms, however we understand that this can be quite expensive and we accept certain other arms instead. Since most of our portrayals occur at Fort Caspar/Platte Bridge Station during the first part of 1864-1865 we focus our impression on Co. G.
  3. 11th Kansas Standards: We are in the process of researching the “common” (or un-common as was usual in the west) uniform of this unit that became involved in the battle at Platte Bridge Station. Since some events require us to portray this unit, any and all information regarding their accoutrements would be greatly appreciated.


The following information applies to the equipment suggested for generic cavalry impressions:

Generic Uniform Guidelines 

  • Headgear
    • Forage Cap
      • Finely woven dark blue or royal blue wool (not navy blue) with painted leather brim and chin strap.
      • Plain US regulation, small size buttons. Black or brown polished cotton or Selisia liner.
      • Should not be worn with the sides of the brim rolled under as a modern baseball cap
      • Insignia: Cavalry, unlike the infantry, were issued hat brass for forage caps. Inspection records show "deficiencies" where the men are NOT wearing required insignia of regimental number, crossed sabres, and company letter. This means also that many men were wearing only some or no hat brass.
    • Hardee Hat
      • 1/4 inch ribbon at base of crown.
      • 2 rows of stitching on brim.
      • shellacked with label inside.
    • Slouch & other non issue headgear - Period types only!
      • Sewn-on edge binding of silk ribbon
      • Leather or cotton duck sweat band
      • Made of fine wool felt without a `fuzzy' appearance.
      • Medium to dark gray, medium to dark brown, or black, with black preferred.
      • No Stetson’s (Cowboy Hats).
      • No limp hillbilly farmer hats.
      • No hat cords of any color.
      • no stampede strings
      • Hardee hat turned slouch is perfectly acceptable (see above).
  • Jackets
    • Mounted Service Jacket
      • Of dark blue or royal blue wool broad-cloth or fine kersey.
      • Padded or Quilted front
      • Yellow dyed worsted wool tape piping, 2 rows of trim on standing collar.
      • All visible buttonholes hand sewn.
    • Fatigue blouse
      • Of wool flannel with a visible `wale' in the fabric, in a shade between a medium and dark blue color. A "wale" means you can see the diagonal weave. Avoid the blackish-blue material that fades to purple; it is the wrong color and it is too heavy. The color will NOT be a blackish `navy' blue which fades to an even more unacceptable purple color. The correct blouse has a short collar and faced lapels and cuffs. Four evenly spaced US eagle buttons should fit into hand-worked buttonholes. Sleeves should have a small, scalloped vent in the rear of the cuff. Unlined versions have all seams flat-felled. Lined versions should have a one-piece body lining of wool or wool/cotton weave and a sleeve lining of muslin.
  • Pants
    • Mounted Pattern Trousers
      • Made of sky-blue kersey-weave wool.
      • Top of the waist band should reach the wearer's navel.
      • Reinforced seat and instep strap.
      • Thin, tapering waist band.
      • Narrow, three to five button fly.
      • Side pockets that start below the waist-band.
      • All detail work, especially buttonholes, finished by hand.
  • Shirts
    • US Issue Shirts:
      • Domet Flannel will have three tin buttons: one at the neck and one at each cuff.
        • Domet flannel is a cotton warp and wool weft, off-white in color.
      • Gray Wool Flannel will have 4 or 5 tin buttons, with two or three on a placket front and one on each cuff.
      • Blue Wool Flannel will have 4 or 5 tin buttons and almost always have a breast pocket
      • Knit:
    • Civilian Pattern Shirt
      • Made of 100 percent natural materials in woven check or plaid material, or with a printed geometric pattern on them.
      • Small metal, bone, wood, shell, or mother-of-pearl buttons.
      • Fall down collar or a banded collar, with or without a detachable collar.
      • One, two or no pockets.
      • No calico and no oversized wooden buttons.
  • Suspenders/Braces
    • Not an issue item, civilian pattern of period materials and attachments.
  • Drawers
    • Canton flannel, cotton flannel, wool knit, and wool flannel all acceptable.
    • Button closure.
    • White, natural, colored acceptable.
  • Footwear
    • Socks - of solid-color yarn: off-white, gray, buff, blue, or bluish-gray. No rings or bands of contrasting color. No elastic. Of wool, cotton or a wool/cotton union. No modern hunting socks.
    • Shoes - Issue brogans with pegged or sewn soles. Heel plates optional.
    • Boots - correctly constructed, below the knee, military style boot.
      • Single-piece vamp.
      • Pegged or sewn soles.
  • Overcoat
    • Mounted pattern: Of correct make and construction. Sky blue wool kersey, double breasted with cape extending to the edge of the cuff.
    • Foot pattern is accepted: Of correct make and construction. Sky blue wool kersey, single breasted with cape extending to elbow, and stand-up collar.


  • U.S. issue M1858 sword belt - Of black buff or bridle leather
    • 2 piece enlisted eagle buckle with applied silver wreath.
    • Shoulder and saber straps.
  • Cap pouch
  • Pistol Cartridge Box - For pistol cartridges - 3 sizes for .36 and 2 for .44 (one for 6 hole packets, one for 7 hole packets)- we do not carry extra cylinders!
  • Holster - Black leather, butt forward, end plug, worn on right side.
  • Carbine Cartridge box - M1860 or "Sharps."
  • Carbine Sling - Of black buff or bridle leather with iron roller snap hook.
  • Haversack - US issue tarred, may be worn on saddle or person.
  • Canteen - M1858 smooth-side
    • cotton strap or un-dyed leather strap with iron roller buckle and leather safe.
    • NO snap-hooks.
    • Wool covered; with jean, or blanket material.
  • Blanket - Gray/brown US Issue with black stripes woven in.
  • Shelter half - Light canvas with grommets and bone buttons. Paperbacked tin buttons accepted.
  • Gum blanket and/or poncho - with small grommets


Company's A,B,C,D were originally armed with Enfield rifles (It is not known which model was issued.  The M1853 was the most commonly used Enfield used by both sides in the Civil War.) In the summer of '63 the 1st Battalion privately purchased 200 Frank Wesson rifles with the copper or brass Kittredge cartridge box made for the Wesson cartridges. Another 151 Wesson rifles were purchased by the War Department and issued to new recruits most likely in July and August ’63.

Company B was armed with 36 cal Navy Colt revolvers, and 10 troopers in each company (A, B, C and D only) were issued M1855 Springfield Carbine pistols (58 cal).

Company's E,F,G, and H were issued Spencer rifles with bayonet (possibly never issued), frog, and a musket style cartridge box (exact style unknown). The bayonet and frog was the same as issued for the Sharps Rifle.

Company I was issued predominantly Wesson rifles.

Company K was issued Merrill Carbines (It is not known which model it was issued) and some Colt Army .44 revolvers. 

Co. L was issued predominantly Wesson rifles.

Besides sabres and pistols, these were the only weapons in the regiment.  The Regiment was also issued four 12 lb. Mountain Howitzers and 2 unknown pieces.

Due to this relatively expensive hobby, and the difficulty in getting Spencer rifles, we accept Spencer, Smith, and Sharps carbines (In that order of priority) to portray “generic” cavalry. Spencer carbines, Spencer Rifles, Merrill Carbines, Frank Wesson Rifles, Joslyn Carbines, and Smith Carbines (when portraying the 11th Kansas) are preferred when reenacting the 11th. The Joslyn Carbines, either the 62, interim, or 64 models were issued to Company E and Company H had some as replacements.


To maintain uniformity, the Spencer Rifle is the preferred "long gun". However, we understand that those reproductions are hard to find and not very accurate to portray other units. For that reason the Spencer Carbine, Smith Carbine, and Sharps carbine will also be accepted (in that order of priority).       

  • Pistol - One sidearm or no sidearm - No "spare" cylinders. Pistols are loaded using cartridges

The 11th was armed with a variety of pistols. The 1st Battalion had mostly Colt Navy pistols, while the 2nd Battalion (Companies E, F, G, H) were armed mostly with Old Army Remington’s and some Beals.  Companies I, K, and L were armed with whatever could be found.  These Companies were mostly armed with Colt Army and Navy, and Remington Army Revolvers. There were a small number of M1861 Colt Navies (less than 20) purchased by the 2nd Battalion.  It is reasonable to assume as the Civil War wore on, the Regiment would receive New Army Remington’s as well as newer models of the Colt Army revolver. The correct sidearm is dependent on what company we plan to portray.

    • Non-issue "Private purchase" side arms must be approved beforehand.
  • Saber - (repo sabers are generally junk - do not acquire a saber without assistance) Must be correctly constructed with wire wrapped, leather bound grip and peened tang. (sabers with the nut on the end will not be accepted.)
    • U.S. Model 1840 "Wrist-breaker"
    • U.S. Model 1860 "Light Cavalry"
    • Sabre Knot: With a tied leather lace turks-head, not an embossed sleeve.

Horse Equipment

  • Saddle - Model 1859 McClellan - All iron hardware, including jappaned or blued iron bar buckles.
    • Coat-straps should be of correct weight with correct buckles, leather stops recommended.
    • Wool web girth and surcingle with iron roller buckles.
    • Crupper was an issued item
    • Breast straps (martingales), were not an issued item, in the 1859-1874 standard issue (though troopers would go out of their way to get one on rare occurrences). Any breast strap should therefore be of civilian pattern or field produced (three leather straps joined by an iron ring) Brass heart sutler row breast straps are not allowed.
    • Hooded wooden stirrups, no toe straps.
    • Saddle-Bags
      • Smaller black bags with iron buckle closure.
      • Should contain a correctly reproduced or original curry comb, brush, hoof-pick, and horseshoes.
  • Carbine Socket - U.S. issue of black bridle leather and iron hardware with pronounced wasp waist.
  • Halter - U.S. issue of black bridle leather and iron hardware.
  • Bridle - Blackened bridle leather
    • 3 or 6 buckle.
    • All buckles should be jappaned or blued iron bar buckles.
    • NO Rosettes on brow-band.
    • Bit - U.S. issued iron bit
    • Link Strap - with iron wire snap hook.
    • Enlisted Reins - sewn to bit and in the center.
  • Watering Bit & Reins (Optional)
  • Nosebag (Optional)
    • Flat bottom; rounded bottom accepted.
    • Black or un-dyed leather with iron roller buckle.
  • Picket Pin and Lariat (Optional)
    • 4-strand, left-laid hemp.
    • whipped at one end.
    • Eye spliced to hand forged iron picket pin.
  • Horse Blanket - U.S. issued blue wool with orange stripe woven in.
    • "U.S." hand stitched in center.
    • Orange stripe should be lighter shade as per originals if possible.
    • Saddle-pads are discouraged - use your issue grey wool blanket or shelter half.

Generally solid colored (aside from stars, blazes, stripes, snips, socks, stockings, etc) no Paints, Appaloosas or other breeds with stand-out colorings and markings.
Preferred breeds include: Quarter, Morgan, and Canadian.

Other/Personal/Optional Items
Store personal items in blanket roll, saddlebags, haversack, pockets, etc.
The only "modern" personal items you should have on you are your car key and any medicines you require. Your car key should be placed somewhere safe and out of sight - you don't need the whole ring just the key to get into your vehicle. Medicines should be stowed in a period container as best as possible not only to hide it, but to protect it.

  • Issue tin cup, boiler, mucket - no speckleware or stainless.
  • Folding pocket knife
  • Personal hygiene items.
    • Tooth brush.
    • Small looking glass (mirror).
    • Comb.
    • Shaving equipment.
  • Cotton or Linen ration & poke bags.
  • Small bottles or flasks.
  • Spoon and/or a fork - no stainless.
  • Plate (not a pie tin), small sheet metal skillet, canteen half - no cast iron.
  • Pipe & tobacco pouch.
  • Housewife (needles, thread, thimbles, buttons, patch cloth)
  • Pencil and paper.
  • Hard candy like lemon drops.
  • Lucifers (matches).
  • Period eyewear, or contact lenses if required - no darkened glasses.
  • Handkerchief.
  • Gambling paraphernalia.
  • Wallet.
  • Pocket watch.

11th OVC Equipment Guidelines :

Instead of re-listing much of the equipment above, the following information applies to the some of the major differences specific to the 11th OVC:

The Sharps Carbine was not a primary weapon in the 11th Ohio. They did not have  carbine socket/donuts/thimbles , because the primary weapon was the rifle, whether it be an Enfield, Spencer or Wesson. As stated above, they began receiving Joslyns as replacements for their Spencers.

From the 11th's OVC RQM LT Averill's papers (invoices, returns, and hand-receipts) of issuing Spencer Rifles to various officers and companies all that is seen issued is the rifle sling (russet in color), brush wiper, screw driver, bayonet, cartridge box (Type not specified) and cartridges. One invoice shows bayonet scabbards. Also, the 11th never were issued Blakeslee cartridge boxes for their Spencer rifles.

From evidence at the Mud Springs and Rush Creek Battles, it is clear that the 11th OVC received Joslyns for replacements instead of Spencer rifles or carbines. Not until late summer of 1865 did Companies I, K, and L, receive Spencer Carbines as replacements for their Enfields, Merrills and Wesson Rifles.

They also used the Burnside Carbine box for their Spencer Carbines. Soldiers were typically issued 42 rounds. The 11th was issued its Spencer Rifles in July and August of 1863 and since it was a Rifle they were issued a variety of rifle cartridge boxes.

The first battalion had state issued uniforms while the second battalion was issued regulation uniforms. Only OFFICERS wore hat brass (Eagle Pin/Sabers) of any kind and then only on the Hardee Hat.

The 11th OVC were issued russet/tan colored rifle slings (NOT CARBINE SLINGS) with their Spencer Rifles. The regiment received Spencer rifles due to the efforts of its commander, Lieutenant Collin William O. Collins.  Collins was also responsible for obtaining Wesson Rifles for the 1st Battalion by contracting with Ben Kittredge & Co., of Cincinnati, Ohio. This rifle was expensive for that time but came with a black rifle sling, cleaning rod, manual hand-held cartridge extractor, wire brush, and a brass or copper cartridge box.  The rifle was not designed for a bayonet.

Citation of Information:
Saunders Jr., William H., Edited Company G, 11th Regiment Ohio Cavalry Volunteers, Orders Book, Fort Laramie National Historic Site, July 2008.

Averill, AQM 1LT. Henry E. 1863-1865.  11th Regiment, Ohio Volunteers Cavalry, Regimental Ordnance Documents (Henry E. Averill Papers), US Cavalry Museum, Fort Riley, Kansas.

I would like to thank Mr. Saunders for all the help with the research and documentation that he provided to this organization in order to further a factual representation of the 11th and one that can be as accurate as possible. The information provided by him above accounts for countless hours of research.


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