Lieutenant Colonel's Coat


Description and Photograph





New Information! 

Thanks to an astute collector, an indemnification has been reestablished to an important part of history.

This Frock coat came from the same collector as Lt. Moreno’s; it too was missing its identification until a collector informed me that it was identified.  On checking it, I found that his name was in it, and that a full examination report had been done long ago when the Id was fresh.

This frock is well known to have come from the Bill Turner collection (now deceased) and when Bill had it he separated its belt and some documents and sold them.  I suppose that was the beginning of losing the Id.  The frock coat was recognized by the purchaser of some of the other items who informed me that it belonged to Lt. Colonel George A. Martin.  I afterwards tracked down the image shown here which had been sold to another collector, and while I do not have the original image, the owner kindly gave me a copy.   Now that the identification is reestablished the value of the frock has considerably increased, but I am not raising the price; this offers the collector the opportunity to purchase a frock positively identified to a prominent Confederate at the price of an unidentified frock.

27 year old lawyer George A Martin first entered service on June 26, 1861 at Norfolk, Virginia as Captain of Company B, 20th Battalion Virginia Heavy Artillery.

He was transferred to Company I, 38th Virginia Infantry on April 25, 1864.  Martin was hospitalized at the Howard’s Grove Hospital in Richmond with debility on May 17, and returned to duty on August 31.

He was promoted to Lt. Colonel on December 12, 1864.  Lieutenant Colonel Martin left Lynchburg, Virginia Hospital and joined President Davis’ entourage as he made his way south.  After separating from the presidential party at Washington, Georgia he surrendered at Augusta, Georgia. 

After the War he was a Virginia State Senator and Delegate.

He died in Norfolk, Virginia in 1915.

    The Double Breasted Frock coat shown here follows Confederate regulations for a Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry.  The six piece body is made of dark, cadet grey, wool kersey.  There are seven large Virginia state seal buttons in each row on the front of the coat (one is currently missing from the bottom of the left row). These buttons are back marked "EXTRA QUALITY".  The coat has the sky blue collar and cuff facings of an infantry officer, and the coat is piped down the front edge with a 1/8" wide, rolled strip of woolen broadcloth, sky blue in color.  This piping is the same as the material used for the collar and cuffs.

     The cuffs are functional, with three buttonholes on the lower edge.  However, the buttons have now, for the most part, been sewn to the top of the cuff.  The buttons are small Virginia state seals, back marked "EXTRA QUALITY".  The sleeves are adorned with three strands of 3/8" flat gold braid, stitched on by hand.  The sleeves are lined in an unbleached (or at least dirty) cotton shirting, tabby weave.

     The collar has an interesting variation of insignia, instead of two stars on each side; it has two small Virginia buttons.  The two on the right side have no rim and are back marked "W.H. HORSTMANN & SONS," while the two on the left side do have a rim and are back marked "SCOVILL MF'G CO. WATERBURY".

     The rear of the coat is cut in conventional frock coat style, with the back vent and the pocket flaps piped in sky blue.  The tails had four Virginia state seal buttons, two at the waist and two at the ends of the pocket flaps, back marked the same as the other large buttons.  One is now missing.   

     The coat is interlined in the front panels of the body with the same gray woolen material as the coat is made of, and is further interlined with a layer of canvas next to the outer shell of the coat; a second layer of wool and cotton, and a layer of cotton waste.  The middle layer appears to be the same type of material often seen in U.S. artillery and cavalry jackets, and may be an example of reused goods.

     The actual coat lining, for both the upper body and the skirts, is made of worsted and cotton, in a green and brown, tabby weave, overall a greenish color.  The coat has been extensively patched, contemporary with its wartime use.  There is one pocket in the left inside breast of the coat, roughly 5" across, the pocket bag made of unbleached cotton osnaburg; the tail pocket bags are made of this same material.

     This is a reasonably well tailored frock coat, but instead of officer quality cloth, is made largely from material acquired at a Confederate Quartermaster Depot.  The main coat cloth is the type purchased for Confederate enlisted men in England, and the pocket bags are made of the same cotton osnaburg found in enlisted coat linings.  The use of what may be U.S. artillery or cavalry jacket lining is most interesting, and is a further example of materials that are not officer quality.  The use of Virginia buttons to substitute for what were Lieutenant Colonel’s stars is a fascinating interpretation of the regulations.   Finally, the extensive patching indicates a coat that has seen hard field use.

     The coat was acquired by Bill Turner many years ago, but without an owner’s identification. 

     This is an excellent example of a rare Lieutenant Colonel of infantry field officer's coat that obviously saw extensive use.  The coat has some moth damage, but remains in very good condition and the color of the infantry blue facings remains bright.          




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