Original U.S. Civil War French Import Zouave Jacket - Regimentally Marked 1re Zes
Original Item: Only One Available. Not surprisingly when one considers that the Americans were considering French military uniform design in the early 1850's, French military garb was finding it's way to American shores to be placed into the hands and on the backs of Union Army troops almost immediately upon outbreak of the American Civil War. Large quantities of uniforms and equipage were purchased by such well known American military suppliers as Tiffany, whose buyers arranged shipment to an eager market in this country. Newspapers of the largest Eastern cities were expounding upon the snappy French Chasseur and Zouave uniform fare.
In 1861 the Federal government contracted with the Godillot firm in Paris (the sole manufacturer of uniforms for the French Army) for uniforms for 10,000 men. Not unlike the government contracts of today however (some things don't change) the purpose and specifics of the contract was subject to some controversy with the vast majority of the equipment passing to state use.
This specific jacket is marked with a French ink stamps in the jacket lining, with a makers mark that is faded, and possibly size markings: 48, 106, and 66. On the inside of the right it is marked X11 / 7846, which looks to be an inventory number. On the inside of the left it is marked with regimental designation 1er Zes, most likely for 1st Zouave Regiment (1-Première Zouaves).
Large government stores of these French imports were offered at public auction where largest quantities were acquired by big Eastern states (N.Y., Penn. & Mass.) buyers who found a ready market among wartime citizens and soldiers who viewed the flashy uniform gear as a mark of the elite. Though few period examples have survived to reach today's collector market, the commonly accepted misconception that use of the Zouave uniform was short-lived and restricted to the earlier portion of the war is just that, a misconception. Many units were supplied with the classic mark of the elite through the duration of the war. (see: Troiani French Import Uniforms North South TRADER'S CIVIL WAR - Vol. XXVI No. 2).
We'll let our photos speak for this colorful offering except to say that it is entirely original and of the period, remains in nice condition with no problems and exhibits just the amount of wear necessary to testify to actual period use. The jacket is of a wool of quality, weight, color and weave that experienced collectors look for. It retains its original cotton lining, all clearly of the period and stitching throughout is of the classic period combination of hand and early machine work.
A word of caution about Zouave uniform components: the use of the classic Zouave style remained popular with continued use by militia, fire and drum & bugle corps into the late 1870's early 1880's. Some of these later use uniforms and components were Civil War era leftovers from state and federal warehouse stores.
Zouave uniforms are a category unto themselves.
Collar to shoulder: 9”
Shoulder to sleeve: 22”
Shoulder to shoulder: 17”
Chest width: 18”
Waist width: N/A”
Hip width: N/A”
Front length: 17.5"
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