Kings Mountain Military School Uniform


Description and Photograph



   All students of the War are familiar with Micah Jenkins, the Confederate Brigadier General who fell mortally wounded in the volley that toppled General Longstreet in the Wilderness of Virginia.  He had come from his home in Yorkville, South Carolina in April of 1861 to take his part in the defense of the South.  He left Asbury Coward in charge of the military school the two of them had founded in 1855.  The school, located in Yorkville, South Carolina was known as the Kings Mountain Military School, taking its name from the Revolutionary War battle fought on its nearby slopes.  The school was thriving by 1861, but duty called.  Teachers and students both felt the call of the War and it was not long until most were in Virginia fighting for there lives.

     Little survives from the Kings Mountain Military School; an attempt was made after the War to resume normal operations, but normal no longer existed in the South and after years of struggle Coward was forced to close what was then known as the Academy.

     Only two uniform coats are known to exist from the pre-war years of the school’s cadet corp.  One, identical to this, is in the South Carolina State Museum collection.  This particular coatee has been photographed and published in North South Trader’s Magazine, Vol. 31 Number 3.  The article, well researched and written by Major William Brown, covers the entire history of the Kings Mountain School and is certainly now, and will most likely remain, the seminal history of the school.  I cannot improve upon the Major’s description, so I quote from his article:

     “While its anyone’s guess as to who made it, one can assume it was a Charleston based tailor who more than likely manufactured uniforms for the Citadel and the Arsenal, among others.  That would certainly be the logical source for a uniform order.  Buttons made by Scovill were probably shipped via water route straight to the Charleston area, a shipment that would have likely included South Carolina buttons to the state cadets.  …… Careful study indicates it was pieced together using a sewing machine, a relatively new device for that time, whereas the inner lining was put in by means of hand stitching.  Wool padding was added to the chest area, a technique still used by military tailors here and abroad to give the wearer a more muscular, imposing impression.

     The inner lining is of cotton in a white and navy pinstripe design.  Of interest are the heavy perspiration stains shown in the expected areas around the upper back and underarms giving the jacket true character.  A heavier grade of decorative cotton was used for the inner pockets.  It is of fine grade wool, dyed a very dark blue, a color frequently used by South Carolina pre-war militia units as well as cadet programs.  The buttons number a whopping 45 coat sized buttons in total—29 on the front, six on the sleeves (three on each arm) two on the collar (on each side and in line with the outside rows of buttons), two on the back seam of the waistline, and six on the jacket’s tail.”

     The coat is all original and in excellent condition inside and out, but shows extensive field wear in the tails.  It is truly a remarkable piece of history.  It comes with a copy of the magazine in which it appears and a full dye and fiber analysis from Old South Military Antiques LLC.         



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