North Carolina Volunteer, 1861

           The sectional crisis in the United States convinced many North Carolinians that war was inevitable.  The North Carolina militia was largely unorganized, so many groups of citizens formed local volunteer military companies to prepare to defend their state.  When the state seceded in May 1861, many of these Volunteers were the first North Carolinians to enter state service.  The Volunteers procured their own uniforms and equipment and the state later paid them for these items when the companies entered active service.  Many volunteer companies copied the basic styles of the U.S. Army uniform and produced them locally. 

            This Volunteer is wearing a frock coat of gray jeans, a common uniform in the early days of the war.  He has adopted a version of the Army dress hat, with insignia taken from an 1833 Infantry shako to designate his branch of service.  He is armed with a Model 1842 musket taken from those confiscated at the Fayetteville Arsenal and has added a pocket revolver for close-quarters fighting.  His accouterments are locally produced as is his other personal equipment.  He has brought a coverlet from home and wears it rolled up, as he has not been provided a knapsack.