Complete Identified 5th NY "Duryee's" Zouaves Uni
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Complete Identified 5th NY "Duryee's" Zouaves Uniform Group, including 13 uniform pieces and accessories, along with 11 war-date letters belonging to nineteen-year-old Charles S. Hopkins of Company B who enlisted in NYC on April 25, 1861 and served for one year before dying of disease at Hampton, Virginia on April 28, 1862.
Hopkins' effects include a marvelous tinted 8" x 10" oval albumen of the young soldier wearing the complete uniform described herein, with several additional pieces of rare Zouave kit, namely a 5th New York overcoat, issue canvas oilcloth knapsack, and an unusual drawstring bag also of tarred oilcloth that functions as a haversack. Also, two different styles of fezzes, one with a metal "5/B" attached to the front.
In addition to the jacket and trousers, there is a 5th NY trademark red sash measuring seven and a half feet in length edged in light blue now faded to light gray. Three pairs of canvas gaiters and one pair of brown leather greaves complete the ensemble.
The true French-style Zouave uniform of the 5th New York is well-documented thanks to at least four surviving specimens as well as in period photographs and the tireless research of the late Brian Pohanka, acclaimed as the regiment's biggest enthusiast. The 5th New York received at least two different issues of very similar of Zouave kit during its term of service which accounts for the slight variations noted from soldier-to-soldier in the photographic evidence. The earlier uniform made in New York City and issued in April 1861 would establish the fundamental look of 5th NY reported by knowledgeable contemporaries to be identical to that of the French Zouaves famous for their elan in the Crimea. Essentially, it consisted of a square cut "medium blue wool collarless jacket and vest trimmed with scarlet tape," baggy red trousers, scarlet sash, and tasseled red fez. The problem with the uniform was that it was not well made and "wore out quickly" according to Pohanka. This necessitated the issue of a replacement uniform which occurred while the regiment was stationed in Baltimore during the fall of 1861 but before the 5th NY joined in the general advance on the Peninsula in March 1862.
The second uniform differed only in minor details. The jacket was more rounded at the bottom, and the red inverted cuff "V's" appear shallower. The plain red trousers were fuller cut, baggier in appearance, while yellow tassels were substituted for blue on the fez. The white turban seems to have been nearly abandoned in the field as impractical. High white canvas gaiters were replaced by leather greaves, known as jambieres, worn over lower cut white gaiters. Based upon these differences, we judge Hopkins' uniform to be primarily second issue.
Shrinkage and fading notwithstanding, the jacket was cut for a small man and dyed a medium blue. The red trim tape is 5/8" wide and forms the distinctive loop-and-trefoil tombeau of the regiment. The worn interior is fully lined in several pieces corresponding to the seams of the jacket with a coarse canvas-like material, brownish in color. At least one field repair is evident in the left breast. The sleeves are lined with a smooth satinette-like material that has aged to brown. The exterior of the jacket shows moderate to heavy wear and fading, and exhibits significant moth damage, particularly around the collar and scattered among spots of the red tape. The coat remains completely intact but the seams in the back are beginning to separate.
The single-breasted overcoat is completely unmarked and made according to the regulation infantry pattern with standing collar and full-length cape. The cape is hemmed; the bottom edge of the skirt is not. The color approximates a medium blue instead of the usual sky blue with a greenish caste. The overcoat retains the rear adjustment strap and is fitted with plain eagle buttons (2 missing) with correct half-lining in a coarse brown material. The sleeves are separately lined in a cream-colored lighter weave cloth. The overcoat is dirty, showing use with several areas of worn fabric in the lower third, but the color is strong and the uniform is completely intact.
The pleated red wool pantaloons remain bright and fasten with the four original composition buttons retaining the rear drawstring, leg drawstrings and lined side pockets. The trousers are peppered with moth holes front and back with several large areas of cloth in the rear and side completely missing.
The red sash is in slightly more displayable condition with numerous moth nips and several large holes that require backing. The wool sash is not ripped or torn and the 7/8" light blue trim is intact, though faded as noted earlier.
Both red fezzes are made of red flannel and have partial yellow tassels. One is simply made like a large skull cap that could be wrapped with white material to form a turban. If there was a sweatband it is now missing. The lower front is pierced with a small "5" over a block, non-regulation company letter "B" both in white metal, possibly lead. This rare headgear shows one old repair near the top with another thin spot on the other side and generally conveys a slightly mottled appearance. The yellow tassel gathered at the top with a woven acorn is now shorter than originally made and ratty at the bottom. The other red fez approximates a tasseled smoking cap with a 3" wide fold-over band forming the base with a narrow line of worn yellow trim at top. One side is virtually destroyed (water damage?) and the other is heavily damaged by the loss of felt. A larger yellow tassel remains attached to the top.
The three sets of canvas gaiters are complete and intact with their metals fittings and brass eyelets. One pair bears the inked name of "D. Froleigh." The brown leather greaves are likewise in very good condition but appear, based on color, to be a mismatched pair.
Both the non-regulation black oilcloth knapsack and drawstring haversack are presently flat and featureless from storage but appear to be complete with leather straps and metal buckles and little, if any, service wear. Several tears in the oilcloth surface are noted, particularly in the back of the knapsack and along fold lines. The oilcloth material retains some suppleness while the leather straps are brittle. The haversack retains its corded hemp drawstring but the lining, if there ever was one, is missing.
In addition to this remarkable grouping, the lot also includes a total of 11 letters written by Hopkins home to his parents in South Norwalk, Connecticut and brother William of South Norwalk and Greenfield. These letters indicate that Hopkins was from a family of means who may have been involved in shipping. In the earliest correspondence, written in May 1860 aboard a ship bound for Jamaica, he writes to his parents discussing a variety of ships, suggesting that several of these were family property. Later, writing to his brother in March 1861 he indicates he is leaving Charleston, S.C. bound for Boston, after having delivered sugar and coal in New York and Philadelphia. He also notes the storm clouds gathering in the Charleston Harbor ...they have harbour lined with cannon they have got a floating battery here is now finished...think they had better keep it where it is for one good shot from the Fort would blow it all to pieces. By May 12, 1861 Hopkins had joined the 5th New York after a brief stint with the Naval Brigade. Indicating he is about to leave for Washington, he notes ...if you want to form an idea of what our uniform is...the pants is read and cloth enough to make about common pair jacket blue trim with red cap red with a blue tossel. The remaining letters are all addressed home from Federal Hill in Baltimore where the 5th was garrisoned throughout the summer and fall of 1861. Hopkins letters are newsy, containing the typical soldier's complaints about weather and bad food, but also peppered with rumor and descriptions of captured Rebel arms, and his wish that he could spend the winter in Charleston, not in the cold.
Hopkins' last letter, written to his parents on February 9, 1862 found him in good health, although miffed at what he considered "deadbeats" who would not volunteer their service, and notes that the regiment was presented a flag by the ladies of Baltimore. Some time after this letter was written Hopkins contracted pneumonia. The last letter, addressed simply To the Relatives of William Hopkins was written on April 27, 1862 from the Hampton, Virginia military hospital by Henry Keith, a nurse or orderly who was with Hopkins when he died, presumably of pneumonia.