I’m now convinced I made a mistake in attributing the Mississippi Brigade’s new shell jackets to a gift from the state of North Carolina in the late summer of ’63 when their motley collection of railroad cars stopped en route from Petersburg, VA, to Ringgold, GA.
“Those quality ladies were all so happy to see us, the raggedy boys of Bob Lee’s beloved army,” my fictional Private Bird Clark recalls in the novel. “They treated us like as if we were royalty, though we were dirty and sour-smelling and our beards were scraggly. Then they presented us with new gray shell jackets, a gift from the governor of North Carolina.”
The real jackets, it seems, were not gray but of a light blue “gray kersey” a course woolen cloth then imported from England. So blue, in fact, that one Ohio regiment hesitated to fire on them at Chickamauga. So blue that Gen. Grant mistook a First Corps soldier for a Yankee.
But also in need of correction is the notion that the jackets were a “late summer of ’63” gift from Zebulon Vance, the war-era governor of North Carolina. I’d been corrected on this before by reader Les White but was not convinced until I stumbled on it again at the Civil War blog Blue and Gray Marching which attributed it to historian and journalist Glen Tucker and presented evidence that Tucker was mistaken.
My apology. I regret the errors.
Via Blue and Gray Marching.