Virginia Enlisted Vest


Description and Photograph






    This single breasted, Confederate enlistedman’s vest is made of one layer of coarsely woven cotton twill, which is indicative of the South’s shortage of material.  It originally had seven buttons but the bottom button is missing.  It has six Virginia state seal buttons which are all Steele & Johnson back marked.  Though Steele & Johnson supplied buttons to the South between 1858 and 1860, this pattern is circa 1860. All of the buttons appear to be original to the vest.  The waist adjuster on the reverse is complete; it was originally sewn together, but the wearer separated them and used a simple cord for adjustment.  It never had a buckle, another trait that is indicative of the wartime shortage.  The tan cotton twill inner side is in excellent condition with the exception of the wear at the collar and hem resulting from much use. 

     The style and cut is the standard three pocket vest; an upper watch pocket in the left breast and two at the waist.  The waist pockets have false scalloped flaps.  Interestingly, I had a Virginia officer’s vest that used this same labor and cost saving pattern.  The pocket linings are completely intact and are made of the same cotton twill as the vest.  The button holes are whipped.

     As you can see the vest is in excellent condition, marred only by light staining and wear at the buttonholes.




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