Tuesday, July 5, 2011

So you wanna be a Fire Zouave?


I love a happy accident. By chance I realized a few month's back that I had a week of vacation that takes place on the 150th Anniversary of the 1st Battle of Manassass (1st Bull Run). Within a few days I had contacted some folks and found myself falling in with the 11th New York Volunteers, or more famously the Fire Zouaves". After getting the wife's blessing to go off to war I then had a lot of work ahead of me. The big hurdle was a uniform. By the time of Manassass the showy "zouave" dress associated with the 11th was on it's last leg. A new uniform was issued but was of Government issue not to the zouave's liking. The Government then hastily issued red fezzes and blue sashes which were worn with dark blue issue trousers and red over shirts. A group uniform "package" was put together for those that needed a uniform ( ME ) with the downside in my opinion being the quality of the garments. So I could either go with the $100 kepi, shirt, and trousers ( cost for all) or an unknown amount for top shelf reproductions. I jumped in with both feet and choose the latter. I had a fantastic reproduction of the Fire Zouaves kepi made that coat $85, and that's without the brass "E" company letter and "1Z" which adds another $5 to $10. My choices for a shirt were a red overshirt ( didn't have to be a Fireman's shirt ), Federal issue shirt ( which I had ), or other civilian pattern shirt. I decided to pursue the red over shirt option with the Federal issue as my fallback. I found a young lady that had a small number of red flannel over shirt kits available. After a few weeks and $110 later I have an accurate over shirt. The shirt is also accented with a black neckerchief tied sailor fashion adding another $16.
I still have a pair of dark blue Federal issue trousers on the way ( $185...ouch! ). The neatest touch to all of this is going to be a custom made reproduction Fireman's badge of which only 50 were being made costing $30. I'll do another posting of the entire ensemble once everything is here. There are a few minor things which I may pass on as they won't necessarily take away from my impression.

Participating in at least some of the 150th Commemorations will no doubt fuel some inspiration and drive which is lacking these HOT summer days. Further posts will also include those projects inspired by this event.

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