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The Uniforms of Captain Cuthbert H. Slocomb, CSA

A Brief Biography of Captain Cuthbert Harrison Slocomb, 5th Company, Washington Artillery of New Orleans

Courtesy Confederate Memorial Hall, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Cuthbert Harrison Slocomb was born August 16, 1831 to a prominent New Orleans family of noted wealth. Early in 1861 with secession imminent, and with the dawn of the Civil War on the horizon, Slocomb was a senior partner in the large and thriving mercantile business of Slocomb, Baldwin & Co. based in New Orleans. His family’s combined wealth was estimated to be well over one million dollars, an impressive sum in the antebellum South. The Slocomb family was well known for its diligence, propriety and keen sense of civic responsibility. Cuthbert Slocomb served New Orleans as a volunteer fireman rising to a position equivalent to a department chief.

In May of 1861, Slocomb was mustered into Confederate service as Assistant Quartermaster of the Washington Artillery Battalion of New Orleans. The Washington Artillery was an elite military organization tracing its roots to 1718. The unit was composed of wealthy members of New Orleans society. They were armed and equipped with expensive accoutrements and wore distinctive uniforms purchased with private funds.

Slocomb is listed as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Company of the Washington Artillery until September of 1861 when he is promoted to 1st Lieutenant. In November, he is listed as a 1st Sergeant and he resigns on November 7th from service. In March of 1862, he again appears on the muster rolls of the Washington Artillery as 1st Lieutenant of the 5th Company. In June of 1862, he was promoted to Captain and he remained a captain throughout the war, preferring field command to the many staff positions offered to him.

During his initial service with the 2nd Company of the Washington Artillery he fought at the first Battle of Manassas. The Washington Artillery wore their prewar uniforms consisting of blue shell jackets, frock coats and trousers. After the battle, the uniform was quickly changed to Confederate gray to avoid confusion with Yankee troops.

After his initial engagement at First Manassas, Captain Culthbert Slocomb fought valiantly at numerous battles in the western theater including Shiloh (wounded), Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Dalton, Resaca, Atlanta, Jonesboro (wounded), Spanish Fort and Mobile.

Captain Slocomb was wounded twice during his service with the Washington Artillery. His first wound was received in the shoulder at the unit’s first engagement at the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee in 1862. His second wound was received from a Yankee sniper in the opposite shoulder at Jonesboro, Georgia in 1864 while sharing corn bread with the men in his company during a lull in the fighting.

In early May of 1864, Captain Slocomb became a prisoner of war and was paroled shortly afterwards at Meridian, Mississippi. After parole, he returned to the family business in New Orleans and died in 1873 from an illness contracted while aiding the indigent population of New Orleans.

 

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Early war Confederate Washington Artillery of Louisiana single breasted jacket of black wool broadcloth. There are 9 U.S. Infantry “I” buttons down the front. Sleeves are adorned with 5 1/4” wide galons that extend 18” up from the cuff edge. Red Second Lieutenant shoulder straps are sewn to each shoulder. (02-13421/DJP1)

Confederate Washington Artillery of Louisiana single breasted jacket of steel gray wool broadcloth. 7 Large Louisiana state seal buttons are on the front. Triple bullion bars on the collar denoting the rank of captain. (02-13422/DJP2)

Confederate Washington Artillery of Louisiana double breasted frock coat of steel gray wool broadcloth. 2 Rows of 7 large U.S. staff buttons are used on the front of the coat. 3 Bullion bars piped in red on the collar indicating the rank of captain. (02-13423/DJP3)

The above 2 uniforms are a matched set, likely made early in the war. They are cut from the same cloth and even have the same lining material. Both coats utilize the same red, wool broadcloth piping. These are likely the only surviving matched pair of Confederate uniforms in private hands.

Confederate Washington Artillery of Louisiana double breasted frock coat of soft cadet gray wool. 2 Rows of 7 Confederate manuscript “A” buttons adorn the front. Red wool broadcloth piping accents the edges of the coat, along with the collar and cuffs. Triple bullion bars on the collar indicate the rank of captain. (02-13424/DJP4)

Confederate Washington Artillery of Louisiana single breasted sack coat of gray/brown woolen jean twill and cotton. The front closes with 5 Louisiana state seal buttons. Red wool moreen piping trims the edges, cuffs, collar and breast pocket. Triple red bars on the collar for the rank of captain. Slocomb was shot twice while wearing this coat. Blood stained, repaired bullet holes can be seen at each shoulder. (02-13425/DJP5)

Confederate Washington Artillery of Louisiana single breasted vest of gray/brown wool jean or satinet with an unbleached cotton osnaburg back. The vest has 8 small Louisiana state seal buttons on the front. The edges, collar and cuffs are piped in red wool. Possibly made by the same tailor that made the above sack coat. (02-13426/DJP6)