Uniform Study: 5th Louisiana Frock Coat
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One of the most frequently asked questions we get here is "when are you folks going to make a CS frock." The answer is, sometime this spring. The coat we'll be making is based off a coat in a SC museum. We'll have more details on that in another issue, but this month we thought we'd feature another coat that we've examined.

The "Louisiana Frock" is one of most asked about coats in Don Troiani's collection. Not only is it unique because it is one of only a few surviving Confederate Frock coats, but it serves as a perfect example of the use of sewing machines in the deep south. The coat was believed to have been worn by a soldier in the 5th Louisiana Infantry*. The coat is believed to be one of the coats issued to the unit earlier in the war.

The coat is made from an all wool cassimere and has a nine button front complete with a full set of Pelican Buttons down the front and four on the tails. It has a 6 piece body, a two piece sleeve and it is lined in the front panels of the coat with a white polished cotton. It has two tail pockets cut from brown polished cotton and one inside kidney-shaped breast pocket. The coat resembles the Infantry Uniform Coat of the US Army very closely in cut and construction.


The most striking feature of the coat is the trim. The 1/2 light weight vertical ribbing trim is applied to the perimeter of the coat, the collar, the scallops on the tails and along the back vents by machine and is applied by hand to the cuffs and shoulder straps.

The shoulder straps are a single ply of cassimere that have the seam allowance turned up and covered by the tape. They are non functional and are secured with a cuff sized Eagle "D" button.

The collar has a one piece inner collar and a two piece outer collar. The front facings and the  collar are interlined with a buckram to add stiffness to the construction.

The skirt is unlined and has no facing piece, but rather is pressed to the outside and covered with tape (like the shoulder strap). While there is extensive machine sewing throughout the garment, the hem of the skirt, setting the lining, the buttonholes and other features are hand done. There are features that could have been machine sewn to save time, but aren't. For instance the left side of the vent in the rear is finished by machine and the right is done by hand.

The two piece sleeves are lined with polished cotton and are trimmed with a chevron pattern and single line of trim simulating a functional cuff. The sleeve is only trimmed on the outer sleeve and was trimmed before the sleeve was closed as the trim is set into the fore seam of the sleeve.

This coat is in pristine condition and is a fine example of an early war coat and a ready-made garment. As you can see by the service record below, the 5th was one of the longest serving units in the war. They were formed in May of 1861 and didn't come home until May 17, 1865!

*5th Louisiana Infantry Regiment completed its organization at New Orleans, LA, in May, 1861 with men from New Orleans and the parishes of St. Bernard, Bienville, De Soto, Lafourche, and Ouachita. Ordered to Virginia and assigned to the Department of the Peninsula, the unit totaled 744 men in April, 1862. During the war it was attached to General McLaws', Semmes', Hays', and York's Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. It participated in many conflicts from the Seven Days' Battles to Cold Harbor , marched with Early to the Shenandoah Valley, then was involved in the Appomattox operations. The regiment reported 27 casualties at Manassas Junction, 50 at Sharpsburg , 53 at Chancellorsville , and 7 at Second Winchester . It lost more than thirty percent of the 196 engaged at Gettysburg and had 123 captured at Rappahannock Station . Only 1 officer and 18 men surrendered in April, 1865.

If you have additional questions about this coat or frocks in general, please do not hesitate to ask. I have approx 50 additional photos of this coat, if there is a feature you'd like to see, please let me know and I'll be happy to share what documentation I have. Top of page

I'd like to thank Don Troiani and the staff at Historical Art Prints for allowing us to use the photos in this article

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