Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Jason Phillips

Committee Co-Chair

Ken Fones-Wolf

Committee Member

Brian Luskey


Despite hundreds of images of Union soldiers and countless accounts by veterans of their appearance during the Civil War, little is known as to how and why the soldiers looked the way they did throughout the conflict. The generalized image that emerges from the war centers around the four-button fatigue blouse prescribed in the 1861 regulations that was issued to every Union soldier at some point during the war. In understanding the origins of the fatigue blouse's design and the impact it had on the image of the ideal soldier in America through the end of the nineteenth century, greater connections can be made between the male fashions of the period and choices that soldiers made about their uniforms. By analyzing Quartermaster Department records, period photographs, letters, memoirs, and period newspapers, a cultural pattern emerges where the Union soldier based his clothing choices out of utility and comfort, but also through style considerations and changing beliefs surrounding the ideal male image. These conclusions connect to the broader literature of clothing and material culture studies in attempting to understand the cultural and social meanings behind historical garments.