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Civil War Fashion Show

Civil War Fashion Show

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Civil War Fashion

Chris, Abbie and Twyla Warren are at the Fredericktown branch of the Ozark Regional Library, Aug. 31 for the Warren Family Historical Programs Presents: Civil War Fashions: Uniforms & Equipment, Clothes & Toys of the 1860s.

The Warren family, Chris, Twyla and their lovely daughter Abbie visited the Fredericktown branch of the Ozark Regional Library, Aug. 31 to teach attendees about uniforms, equipment, clothes and toys of the 1860s as part of their historical program Civil War Fashions. 

"Our Civil War Fashions program gave an overview of the different uniforms, both Union and Confederate, civilian clothing, children's clothing and toys, and soldiers' equipment that visitors might see at the upcoming Battle of Pilot Knob Reenactment on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25-26, 2021," Chris said. "By people attending our program they can go with a little more knowledge of what they will see the various reenactors wearing and using."

Chris said many people simply think that all soldiers wore a simple blue or gray coat, which is not always true.

"There are many varieties of uniforms, frock coats, sack coats/fatigue blouses, shell jackets, roundabouts, depot jackets, sky blue wool trousers, dark blue wool trousers, dark gray wool trousers, striped cotton trousers, checkered blue/green/brown cotton trousers, cotton plaid shirts with wood/pewter/bone buttons, wool shirts, boiled shirts with glass buttons (ceramic buttons), civilian cotton frock coats, wool vests, civilian cotton vests, and more," Chris said. "Hats varied from forage caps, slouch hats, kepis, Hardee Hats, straw hats, English toppers, and a wide variety of others. Soldiers might have 'brogans' for shoes, or 'straight last' stove pipe boots. Even in military units, not every unit was 'uniform' in their appearance."

As for the women's clothing Twyla said it depended on their role, where they were located and what chore they might be performing.

"Everyone tends to assume they all wore the big hoop skirts, Gone With the Wind style, but that is not so," Twyla said. "A lady working around the house might have a work dress with a pinner apron, while a lady visiting friends, shopping or going to a sewing group might wear a day dress." 

Twyla said, out on the frontier a woman may have a simple "prairie" style dress but for more formal occasions a lady might put on the elaborate hoop skirts with the fashionable "zouave" jacket. She said, for an evening dance a lady might wear a ball gown and if she had lost a loved one she would don mourning attire of black.

"Of course, it also depended on the women's age as well," Twyla said. "A lady would wear gloves of fingerless mitts, a hat or bonnet, and between 6 to 10 layers of clothing. Stockings, a chemise, pantaloons, corset, corset cover, corded petticoats, blouse, skirt, jackets and more covered these ladies." 

As for the children of the 1860s, it all depended on their gender, as gender roles were the norm back in that time.

"Newborns tended to wear a white cotton gown, because they were considered 'little angels,' but you could tell if it were a boy or girl by the way their hair was parted," Twyla said. "Boys had a part to the side, while girls had their hair parted down the center. After children were potty-trained, they would begin to wear clothing styled after adults."

Twyla said adolescent girls did not have the corsets but wore "stays" to help form their posture. She said boys sometime wore shorter pants until they were a little older.

"One thing that little boys had was braces or suspenders and some of these had adjustable button holes as the youngster grew taller," Twyla said. "Girls wore dresses, but sometimes with a large hem, which could be let out as they grew taller. Both genders were also to have a head covering when going outside."

After seeing and learning about some of the attire, Abbie took front and center to demonstrate the toys, games and school books. 

The Warren family members each had their own role, and favorite part, during the program but it was easy to see they loved teaching and working together as a family.

"We love it when the program draws to a close and people have become so interested, especially kids, that they barrage us with questions and are eager to come up and see the items for themselves," Chris said. "Part of the reason we do this is because we want to share our love of history, and to show it is more than what they may have had in school."

Chris said he hopes attendees will realize the lives of the Civil War soldiers and civilians were much like ours probably are today, varied and complex.

"Most of the textbooks try to stereotype a simple blue and gray soldier, a lady in a large hoop skirt, and kids that all look identical," Chris said. "We hope to not only educate about the differences but allow our visitors to experience history in a very hands-on and family friendly environment."

The Warren Family is available for history programs for libraries, civic and historical groups, scouting organizations and more. 

If anyone is interested in hosting a history program, they can contact the Warren's via email at the_civilwar_guy@yahoo.com or visit the Warren Family Historical Programs website at https://warren-family-historical-programs.weebly.com 

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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