Uniforms, Instruments & Equipment


Uniform for Regimental Field Music of the

1st Penna. Reserve Volunteer Corps 

B.S.A. Venture Crew 1861 Fife and Drum Corps (FDC)


The Venture Crew/1st PRVC issues a high quality uniform and period correct equipment to any FDC member on loan. There is no charge.  However if members prefer their own "kit", any decent-quality, generic Federal uniform owned by a member is permitted. The corps also provides music and high quality, period correct fifes, drums and bugles. 

Uniforms of infantry musicians during the Civil War were often distinctive from their fellow infantrymen using elements of NCO uniforms without rank markings. While this was doubly true of the ornate attire of army brass bands it also was true to a lesser degree of the “working musicians“ of the Civil War-–the infantry field music or fife & drum corps.   In Union volunteer units, some musicians wore NCO strips on trousers; private purchase Kepis rather than the army issued forage caps; NCO buckle (probably the most common buckle worn by musicians in the war) and dress frock coats-sometimes adorned with musicians “cages”. Some units like the 2nd PRVC Field Music wore bicolor zouave-style kepis, while musicians in the the 3rd PRVC wore the short "shell jacket" with braided cuffs. The variety was endless.



The unit was formed in 1861 and was most likely originally outfitted from the Schuylkill Arsenal. A photograph taken at Fairfax Station in 1863  provides clear evidence that the dress uniform of the regimental Field Music of the 1st PRVC included a standard infantry frock coat (although some of the musicians had coats with rolled collar without piping), kepi, red wool NCO sashes (all 1st P.R.V.C. musicians wore red sash for dress--not just lead musicians as with some units) and an early war brass “eagle” buckle w/ applied 3-piece, silver wreath often called the "1851 Enlisted" because it was used by cavalry enlisted ranks as well as officers. BSA Venture Crew 1861 Fife and Drum Corps copies this distinctive uniform for its use.



Kepi (or forage cap is issued if kepi is not available)

Frock Coat/Infantry Enlisted w/ light blue piping – no “cages” - Or, if not available, a fatigue sack coat is issued.

Light blue issue trousers (Schuylkill pattern)

Civilian style or “poor boys” braces

Period civilian shirt

"1851Enlisted" or NCO buckle w/ belt (brass “eagle” buckle w/ applied (one piece) silver wreath

Canteen (tin with pewter spout covered with brown or gray jeans wool cover.)

NCO red wool sash

 “Brogans” infantry issued shoes

Rag wool socks (recommended purchase) in gray, brown, natural or other appropriate knit (recommended to be worn with sock liners) 


The 1st PRVC also has equipment issued as needed:

 Black ”tarred” haversack

rubber coated ground cloth with ties used as rain gear

tin cup and plate with knife, spoon and fork

civilian & military issue wool blankets

rag wool gloves and knit scarfs in limited supply

CW wall, "A" tents and camp equipment

Civilian dresses and gowns may be available available 




1st PRVC has drums, fifes and bugles from reputable makers available for loan to its members.  We have a variety of drums from Florance Drums and other makers. Our beginner plastic fifes are supplied by Cooperman and our more experienced members use the “Model F Fife” from beafifer.com. The corps also owns two Armati Bb bugles appropriate for Civil War Infantry.  It is especially important to talk to Mr. Cassidy before making private instrument purchases.  Remember, the 1st PRVC also has its own music library, music books and reprints of several Civil War publications available.  We also have a stock of the Cooperman student fifes.



While we are not recommending expensive eyewear, it is important to have glasses that appear to be period.  This article will help identify period styles.  (But take recommendations with a grain of salt--most of the 1870 style temple are OK are hidden by your hair anyway).  The FDC  may have some fames if you are nterested and some suttlers sell "period" frames.

See article at   http://www.historiceyewearcompany.com/historiceyewear/files/OnYourFaceFinal2-2.pdf



          Even though we belong to the United States Volunteers (USV) 1st Reg’t, we like the 3rd Regiment, USV Uniform Standards.  We recommend using their “Uniform Standards” as our guidelines. 


then click “THIRD REGIMENT”; and then “Detailed Information” box; then “USV 3d Regiment Uniform Standards”




Frock coats, haversacks, belts w/NCO buckles & more

The Homefront Gettysburg Sutler,  777 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg  (the former “Horse Soldier” location in the Old Gettysburg Village coutyard)~Venture Crew/PRVC Field Music Discount available~ phone: 717-338-1776 


Great location for campaigner (high) quality Kepis, forage caps, and frock coats. and other items  Best price on quality brogans (shoes)

Regimental Quartermaster, 49 Steinwehr Ave., Gettysburg;  Ph. 717-338-1864


Federal Infantry Trousers -Schuylkill Arsenal pattern - and great consignment items from Chris Sullivan

Stony Brook Company, Oswego NY  www.stonybrookcompany.com   


Canteens & tinware by Axel Ulrich, Hellam PA (authentic, handmade and safe)

stamped “A Ulrich” available at many quality sutlers


Period correct material for canteen covers and other uses

Family Heirloom Weavers, Red Lion PA   www.familyheirloomweavers.com


Army issued shoes called “Brogans” or “Jefferson Bootees”

 We currently get brograns as needed for Regimental Quartermaster (above).  Check first--if you are going to grow out of them anyway , it's best to borrow a pair from us. 


FIFES: we exclusively use “Model F " Bb fifes and fife cleaning supplies, etc.  (except student --beginner fifes--by Cooperman available from the Corps.)                                       

 from Ed Boyle at beafifer, Phila PA www.beafifer.com 


DRUMS: most of our corps-owed Civil War drums (and some of our member’s own drums) are made by Jim Florance or George Carroll

Florance Drum Company, Honesdale PA www.florancedrums.com


DRUM STICKS by Cooperman--Virginia drummer, Connecticut Drummer and Parley models are popular.  Also our source for the student fifes we keep on hand. (Some of our members also own Cooperman drums; the top-of-the-line in the hobby) Cooperman Fife & Drum Co., Bellows Falls, VT  www.cooperman.com


As always, 1st PRVC musicians and their families should talk to Mike Cassidy before making expensive purchases from any vendor; there is a lot of junk out there or we often have a connection to make a quality purchase more affordable.   The ladies should talk to Jeanne Cassidy or Jocelyn Windahl befor making civilian purchaces. 



Mike Cassidy, Venture Crew 1861Advisor


or h. 717-426-3942; cell. 717-368-1235