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  1. #1
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    Confederate tartan anachronisms

    First, I don't know the right place to post this, because the Confederate Memorial Tartan is recent.

    Yet, the photos of men wearing it I've come across online nearly always show men wearing Civil War era jackets.

    So what I have to say is out of place both in Historical kiltwearing and Contemporary kiltwearing, which is precisely the point!

    I was just looking through old XMarks threads, and a site selling kilts of the Confederate Memorial Tartan, and what struck me strongly (being a collector of vintage photos) was the amazingly consistent anachronism of wearing American Civil War jackets, Confederate Memorial Tartan kilts, and post-1900 style sporrans.

    Couldn't one, just one, of the wearers get a sporran of a style that existed in the 19th century? Evidently there's a knowledge disconnect between people interested in the American Civil War and people interested in 19th century kiltwearing.

    Here's the site. Four men are shown wearing the CM tartan with Civil War jackets and every one is wearing the sort of sporran that didn't appear until the 20th century.

    http://www.alexismalcolmkilts.com/1089/1207.html

    Here's an old XMarks thread showing precisely the same thing: there are two men wearing Civil War era costume, CM tartan kilts, and 20th-century-specific sporrans.

    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...lt-pics-39216/

    I've looked over hundreds of 19th century photographs of kiltwearers and never seen such sporrans. These small pocketlike sporrans, leather for Day and Sealskin for Evening, seem to suddenly appear around WWI and quickly ousted the previous style, the long hair sporran, which had been worn by civilians in Day Dress and Evening Dress alike throughout the 19th century.

    Here is perhaps the best overview of the styles of sporrans worn in the 1860s, provided by The Highlanders of Scotland. Those doing Civil War era kiltwearing would do well to study that book.

    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...cotland-67675/

    For those questioning the accuracy of MacLeay's sporrans, here's a thread where I post photos of vintage sporrans showing a wide variety of unusual designs identical to, or very similar to, those appearing in The Highlanders Of Scotland

    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...s-flesh-83376/
    Last edited by OC Richard; 12th February 15 at 06:27 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  2. #2
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    A good observation about how historical re-enactors tend to err on the side of the grand rather than the humble.

    Interesting because i once heard the author of that book "Confederates In The Attic" talk about how obsessive Civil War re-enactors are about making sure that they have PRECISELY the same accoutrements as the people that they are portraying. I believe that the author went so far as to say the if a re-enactor found that the soldiers had lice, they would be sure that they themselves were infested by the same species of lice that their Union/Confederate heroes suffered from.

    Any of us who have been to a Highland Games that have been crashed by the Ren Fair types know how it goes…I especially like the band of "barbarians" that usually show up at our local Games and are covered in furs, leather, little bits of armor and more edged weapons than any person who actually lived in the (imaginary) period that they are "portraying" could have possibly owned…they add a kilt to this preposterous outfit and suddenly they are dressed for the Highland Games. I'd love to point out to them that if they were really be accurate, their faces would be covered with smallpox scars and they'd be missing at least a few fingers…maybe missing an arm or a leg…but they're living the fantasy.

    I'm guessing, OC, that these Civil War buffs have done their research but have made the conscious choice to bend the rules and toss on a kilt and an anachronistic sporran just to try to create an effect. They'll give you the old "I'm honoring my heritage" excuse but they KNOW that they're really fudging the accuracy of what they're representing. Whatever their motivation we can't really say but if you're going to try to do an HISTORICAL re-enacment, you better damn well be as accurate as you can and leave your fantasies about "how it should have been" in the parking lot….you're not doing anybody any favors by misrepresenting history because it's your fancy to wear a kilt.

    Best,

    AA
    ANOTHER KILTED LEBOWSKI AND...HEY, CAREFUL, MAN, THERE'S A BEVERAGE HERE!

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  4. #3
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    I believe you are looking onto a different areas with your post, so I'll try to help with a few.
    I wear my Confederate Memorial only as a modern day outfit with modern accessories. For me, Memorial tartan is the key phrase.

    I believe that full face sporrans of the local animals would have been more commonly used (raccoon, fox, groundhog) for the Southern enlisted or drafted soldier that wore kilts. (Easier to obtain and replace.) A substitute sporran may have been an ammunition (ball and cap bag) pouch that would be more uniform to an platoon, squad, company of troops.

    My comments are based on my own military service obligations (presentation of unit) but also from what I know of family members that served in different CSA units from North Carolina (cavalry, "woodsmen" sharp-shooters and navy) No one in my family wore kilts during those war years. They considered themselves (then and still do) Ingram's of Carolina borne from Scottish blood (defenders of home) foremost and soldiers of the Southern cause second.

    The gentlemen that you are observing may have trouble locating information on the precise style of sporrans worn by the men they wish to emulate. You're post may bring more attention to an overlooked area of attire during an era that needs clarification.
    Last edited by Tarheel; 12th February 15 at 08:59 AM.

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  6. #4
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    The Union Light Infantry from Charleston County, SC is the only Confederate Company I know of to use Highland dress --although mainly comprised of men of lowland descent! Even so, they appear only to have worn trews, except for the piper(s? Sources disagree on whether they had more than one at a time). It still nominally exists at Company C of the Washington Light Infantry. None of its regalia survived the war (nor did most of its members), and "reconstructed" uniforms have used whatever tartan suited the wearer. Recently, due to their affiliation with the Military Institute of South Carolina aka The Citadel, they've taken to wearing their Pipe & Drum Corps tartan, though it is just as ahistorical as the Confederate Memorial Tartan.

    On the exceptionally rare occasion someone wore this "uniform" with full kilt rig, it seems to have been worn with a horsehair sporran, as there are two in WLI's Quartermaster's inventory. I may have seen a gent wearing this at the burial of the final C.S.S. Hunley crew in 2004, but my photographs of that day are inconclusive.

  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    ... Confederate Memorial Tartan is recent.

    Yet, the photos of men wearing it I've come across online nearly always show men wearing Civil War era jackets.
    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    ...what struck me strongly was the amazingly consistent anachronism of wearing American Civil War jackets, Confederate Memorial Tartan kilts, and post-1900 style sporrans.

    Couldn't one, just one, of the wearers get a sporran of a style that existed in the 19th century?
    Let's suppose you get a sporran style from the period. What are you going to do about the "recent" tartan.

    And even if you get a tartan from the period, a Confederate soldier in a kilt is still anachronistic.

    However, you've given me reason to get an artillery shell jacket... and a big ol' horse hair sporran and wear it during the day.
    Last edited by MacKenzie; 12th February 15 at 09:45 AM.
    Tulach Ard

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacKenzie View Post
    Let's suppose you get a sporran style from the period. What are you going to do about the "recent" tartan.

    And even if you get a tartan from the period, a Confederate soldier in a kilt is still anachronistic.
    True on both counts!

    Yet, if someone is wearing a kilt with a Civil War jacket at a Civil War Ball, I would think that it would follow that the person should attempt some period-consistency.

    The non-kilted version would be to wear, at a Civil War Ball, a Civil War jacket and pants but wear shoes of a style that's obviously 20th-century, say, Nike basketball shoes.

    Or a Civil War jacket with pants of a fabric that didn't exist until the 20th century, say camouflage or a 1960s psychedelic print in neon colours.

    But somehow Highland Dress is imagined to be outside the framework of time. It's amazing to me how often people do this, wear modern Highland Dress items at a Napoleonic Ball, or Civil War Ball, or a Dickens Ball, or what have you. Everything worn by everybody will be more or less period-correct, but the Highland Dress items float outside of time and history.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by auld argonian View Post
    I'm guessing, OC, that these Civil War buffs have done their research but have made the conscious choice to bend the rules and toss on a kilt and an anachronistic sporran just to try to create an effect.
    That's an interesting take on things. I was imagining that these people know a lot about Civil War uniforms, but know next to nothing about historical Highland Dress. They see various sporrans for sale and think that all the types of sporrans they see being worn today have always existed (Highland Dress being timeless somehow).

    I'll give one example, a guy I ran into who spent much trouble putting together the modern full-dress uniform of The 48th Highlanders of Canada, but showed up with a huge 18th century style ___________ strapped across his back. (I'm not allowed to name the thing, but you know what it is.)

    It's usually the sporrans and the _________ that are anachronistic.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  12. #8
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    I went through a re-enactment phase, so I think I can see things from both sides. I've always felt the first thing the overwhelming majority of re-enactors need to do, before striving to be accurate in the smallest of details, is to pay attention to the greatest of details, and loose 100-150 pounds.

    I'm still not clear, perplexed really, about kilt wearing in the Confederate Army. Was it really done at all, and if done, done by more than an infinitesimally small number?


    Thanks OCRichard for the lesson. I'm always grateful when you share your teaching.
    Benning School for Boys
    97th Company
    OC 5-68

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  14. #9
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    Of course the way which I might expect a recent, modern tartan like Confederate Memorial to be worn is with modern Highland Dress, as it appears as a pipe band uniform here, where the modern 20th century sporrans are idiomatic



    Nice American-made pipes there by the way!
    Last edited by OC Richard; 25th February 15 at 07:37 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  16. #10
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    Even if we ignore for the moment the vintage of the tartan, I think the reason you will see modern accessories with a purportedly historic uniform is two fold.

    First, since there is little if any record of confederate kilted units, there is little if any source material to work with. No drawings or photos from the period that would guide you down the right path. So you can find a great deal of stuff about jackets, you can find a great deal of stuff about kilts in other settings, but the two do not come together in any sort of educational resource. I can not explain why someone would not look at a non confederate picture of highland wear from the same period but I can understand how it happens.

    The second is a matter of availability. For the casual kilt wearer, with little more than the internet and maybe a few festivals to go on, one will not find a historic sporran. In the USA unless you see a touring band the only source material you have for kilted uniforms are generally pipe bands, and they are wearing modern accessories for the most part. I know that I did not come across anything other than a few pictures in books that would show the correct time period until reading about the issue in various threads here on XMTS. I doubt many of the kilted confederates are reading through various non confederate threads on a kilt forum. Even if they did, finding one of these period correct sporrans for sale can be a daunting task. Not many of the well known (or lesser known for that matter) kilt shops carry such an item.

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