Illinois National Guard

16 Jan 2013
Public Affairs Office
Blue To Brown: The Evolution Of A Uniform

SPRINGFIELD -  History buffs and families gathered at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield to learn how a military’s choice of uniform can be affected by multiple factors, such as technology, economics and even the military trends established by other influential countries such as Great Britain.

Veteran Living Historians Richard Schachtsiek and Don Ferricks discussed and demonstrated nearly 50 years of uniform changes between the end of the Civil War and WWI on Saturday, Jan. 12.

The presentation included displays with multiple uniforms, weapons and artifacts of that era. The hour of informative lecture discussed transitions from the blue uniforms of the late 19th century to the brown uniforms of the early 20th century, as well as the transition of the Illinois National Guard from a militia to a standardized branch of the active military.

Schachtsiek, dressed in a dark blue tunic worn by National Guard Soldiers during the Spanish-American War, focused on the late 19th century uniforms and highlighted one very important technological innovation: the transition from ammunition that used smoky, black powder to ammunition that used smokeless powder.

Ferricks, a veteran of the Navy and Air National Guard, dressed in the light brown drab uniform most-often associated with American Soldiers in WWI. He offered his own comments on the transition from black- to smokeless powder and the resulting change in uniforms. . .

 “Since a black powder weapon makes smoke puffs with every shot, the enemy knew your position anyway so the blue uniforms helped Soldiers find their own. After the more powerful smokeless powder came into use most of the world’s developed militaries went with drab uniforms to keep from being easy targets,” he said.

            For more information about events at the Illinois State Military Museum call 217-761-3910.