Civil War Uniform Group, ca. 1865
Appraised Value: $15,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:40)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It's been in the family probably for a hundred years here in Montana and no one seems to know a lot about where it came from. I did find some pieces of paper in the pockets that identify the person as W.W. Hipolite. And that was the only clue I have. Did some research, he was a surgeon. He enlisted in the army from Racine, Wisconsin and then was eventually stationed in a place called De Valls Bluff, Arkansas. And he was assigned to, I think, the 11th infantry unit, which was an all-black Union infantry soldiers. And it appears he eventually went back to De Valls Bluff after the war and continued caring for these black soldiers for the rest of his life.
APPRAISER: There are a couple of features that I can point out to you with this uniform that do indeed tells us that it is from the American Civil War. If we start with the coat, one of the first things we're going to notice is the large, kind of balloony shape of the sleeves. And that's because you actually have to work and serve and even sometimes fight in these coats. You have to have some room. We have a single-breasted coat with the eagle "I." And the "I" inside the eagle's chest means "infantry." If we switch around to the back of the coat, something that you always want to look for, we're going to notice that they're actually working map pockets. And this is to keep important papers or maps or the like in.
APPRAISER: We also have a wonderful officer's kepi. It has this really gorgeous quatrefoiling that's done on it. That's a feature that collectors really desire and they look for. If we go to the pants, we're going to see it's void of any back pockets. That's correct for the mid-19th century. We've got a working buckle in the back. Again, that's something that's very indicative of a Civil War pair of pants. Here we're going to notice this nice, fine blue stripe that goes down that. Now, collectors would call that a spaghetti stripe. And what we don't want is a very wide stripe. The wider it gets, the later we anticipate the pants to be made. We have a nice vest, very attractive. It's just... it's all in good shape. The sash is not for a medical officer; it's for a regular officer in the infantry. But that's okay because not everybody would have had access to the green sash. And the green is our key feature in letting us know that it has to do with the medical staff. The big thing we're going to notice, when we first look at these shoulder boards for the first lieutenant, they appear to be blue. But on closer examination, we're going to see in the very protected areas where they have green backing. And the green is, in fact, medical staff. So I do believe that the I.D. probably does carry out and it probably is real. Now, normally when we encounter uniform parts, we don't have all this. You know, maybe we'll have a hat, the kepi. Maybe there's a frock coat and a pair of pants, but no kepi and no vest. So it's very, very nice that you have all the key pieces and they're all here together. That's something a collector would really like. His service record is also going to be something that's going to have a real draw on the value of the uniform grouping. During the American Civil War, obviously it's not what we would say today, but they were considered the "United States Colored Troops." And anything that's associated with the United States Colored Troops is quite rare. And in a retail situation, I think you're looking at somewhere around $15,000. It's very, very nice and I really appreciate you bringing it.
GUEST: Thank you, I appreciate the information.
APPRAISER: Just for an afterthought, a red sash, while not quite so rare, sells for maybe $600 to $800. But had you had the green sash for the medical staff, that's possibly $2,000 to $2,500. That's how uncommon that particular sash is.
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