|Did Cowboys really wear boots?
Civil War Jefferson Bootees and Ankle Boots
Civil War shoes are pretty
hard to tell apart. Once they have been stomped through the mud a
few times your eye can't tell where they came from. That's when your feet
will tell you that you are wearing Fugawee's Civil War shoes.
Fugawee's Civil War
Contract bootees are available in smooth top grain or rough flesh-out.
Our leather is staked until pliable before cutting out the pieces for the
uppers. This is the reason that Fugawees need no double socks to protect
against blisters and no soaking in order to break them in.
Most Civil War bootees were
issued in smooth leather (right) but rough-out (left) seems to have taken
over among re-enactors.
Fugawee's Contract Bootee has
four lace holes and is available in sizes from 5E to 15EEE in full and
half sizes. Smooth or rough. Because of a glitch in naming
the widths of our very first Bootees, our E width is more like a standard
D. Be sure to allow plenty of room if you wear heavy socks. We suggest
that you take a half size larger, for toe room as these do not have a modern
toe box. The modern toe box did not come into use until after 1864. Sizes
are from 5E to 14EEE in full and half sizes.
A number of men with ankle
problems have turned to our Black-Half Boot (front page) for extra support.
It is black, rough-out, and built on the Civil War last. The Black
Half-Boot is about two inches higher than the Jefferson Bootee of 1861.
Actually it was regulation from 1812 through the Mexican War. "the Jefferson
shoe rising above the ankle "as stated in CHANGES IN THE
UNIFORM OF THE ARMY which you may read at: <http://www.qmfound.com/changes_in_the_army_uniform_1895.htm>
Here, too, you will find the
regs for the Mexican War. "Mounted officers wore high military boots, while
other officers had the short boots. Bootees were worn by the enlisted men
of all corps, "under the pantaloons, laced, extending four inches above
the ankle joint."
The Southern or Monticello
model. also appropriate as a work shoe from the early 1800's until
the present day, is built on the same lasts as the Federal Contract
Bootee. It has five lace holes and a pull tab on the back of the boot.
It's color is russet or natural and the rough-out model takes on a beautiful
color when given a coat of Lexol or other oil. Smooth or rough, (I
like the rough better) Sizes are from 5E to 14EEE in full and half sizes.
The Monticello was patterned
after the shoes shown on a Gettysburg statue of Civil War Confederate soldiers
around a mounted Gen. Robert E. Lee. It is reputed that the Confederates
had a shoe factory at a Florida town called Monticello. However,
there is also a Monticello in Alabama. We find no trace of the Monticello,
The Monticello or Civil War
Southern shoe is the closest thing to a ready-made 1800s work shoe that
you will find. Shoes like these were packed 100 pairs to the barrel and
shipped from Boston to St Louis and on to Taos; they were sold to
the Mississippi riverboat men; and went on to the Western frontier and
any seaport that the Stars and Stripes traded with. This type
of shoe was worn by the Yankee seamen who, in the 1820s, rounded
Cape Horn to load cattle hides in the tiny Spanish port of Nuestra Señora
de Los Angeles de California. (read "Two Years Before the Mast") The hides
went back to Boston, where they were made into more shoes.
Fugawee's Civil War Artillery
Boots Sometimes called Ankle Boots.
See Uniform Regs 1851/1861.
Also see :
..Dress regulations throughout
the period ... mention only the "ankle boot" and the "Jefferson boot."
Both types were prescribed for officers and the mounted service....It can
be concluded that the ankle boot was a medium height riding boot without
lacing and otherwise called a 'half boot..' "Since the mounted man's boot
(if he wore such instead of bootees) were, by regulation, covered by his
trousers.........they must have been of the Wellington pattern."
From: American Military Equipage
1851-1872 The Company of Military Historians-Providence, R.I......
These fine boots are made
to Fugawee's specifications by one of the few bootmakers in the world that
still produces the antique molded front piece. I don't think that any other
two-piece CW boot made in America has the accurate molded shape. Without
it, the boots tend to wrinkle in the front and cause blisters on the instep.
We sent the master boot maker
an actual, unworn original model 1859 Ankle Boot made in 1865. In
that year it was placed on a mannequin of the Drummer Boy of Shiloh and
so was preserved in a museum exhibit until 1968. Our boot maker copied
it exactly. Look at the original on the right in the picture and the Fugawee
model on the left.
We made two changes. We bought
the originals when the museum broke up. They were machine pegged, nine
pegs to the inch. We used stitching because we haven't found a machine
and no craftsman today can duplicate the work of an 1860s pegging machine.
For your comfort, we lined the boot with leather from top to toe. Sizes
from 7ee through 15ee.
We have been producing this
boot for six or seven years. The other day we received a letter in
which Mr. R. Midkim complained that our boots are not "authentic" because
they have no welt in the side seams. We have sold thousands of pairs of
the Artillery Boot and this is the second time that we have had this complaint.
Or maybe it was one man complaining two times. Be advised that we
have no side-seam welts. Todays sewing machines don't rely on them
the way that 1865 chain-stitch machines did.
Members of World War One groups
are buying this boot for German and Austrian impressions.
Note: Many re-enactors have
been influenced by the Cinema and television and think that the issued
Civil War cavalry boot came to the knee with a flap or knee guard in the
front. We have plenty of antique photos of CW cavalry with their
trousers worn outside the Ankle Boot as per regulations. Both sides
dressed this way but some officers bought their own flamboyant Jeb Stuart
type of Cavalier boots. No, we don't plan on carrying them.
In or out? Up or down? What's
that little flap on the front of the boot? The flap or rise is to keep
your pants cuffs out of the manure. When you are going to stables or when
the wheels of the Parrot gun churn up a muddy slop, you raise the front
of your trouser leg and place it behind the flap. About 1870 the flap became
It's the same principle as
the modern cowboy boot with its front and back notches to hold the bottoms
of your pants out of the mud and manure in the corral.
By the way, only forty percent
of the shoes or boots issued during the entire Civil War were pegged.
Pegs didn't meet military specs and bootees made with pegs were purchased
from the contractors for about about seventy cents a pair less ($1.95 versus
$1.25) than sewed boots or bootees. Read Colonel Crossman's letter
of 1861. Click here.
The leather in our boot is
a semi-rough cowhide especially selected by the master boot maker after
studying our original boot. The finish will take a shine after a few polishings
or it will take Lexol for a "field-worn" look. The boot is lined
with calfskin from top to toe. It has a sewn sole with a roundish
shank pegged into place, the only place where we use pegs. This boot has
a comfortable square toe, a tight-gripping heel and bedroom slipper comfort.
This boot covers an amazing
time period. It is ideal for many impressions from just after 1800
through 1900 and beyond. It is suitable for reunions of the Grand
Army of the Republic, the 1800s miner, teamster, cattleman, farmer, Indian
Wars, Cowboy Shootist, etc
Boots are fitted with pull
tabs for a reason. If you don't have a pair of boot hooks, use two strong
laces. Put them through each pull tab to form long sloops that
you can use to pull on the boot. If things are tight, use talcum
or foot powder to slick up your socks.
NOTE: If your new boots
feel sloppy around the heel, insert heel wedges (Dr. Scholl or =). This
applies to all pull-on boots, especially English riding boots. Remove them
when the boots have molded to your feet.
Fugawee brogans come from
the factory with fabric laces but we put a pair of alum-tanned Kentucky
leather laces in every box so that you can have your choice.
For civilian impressions and
veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic, the smooth Jefferson with the
fabric laces works well.
Facts about Original Civil
Before the war, almost all
army shoes were made at Susquehanna Arsenal. The pieces were cut out in
the arsenal and then "farmed out" to independent workers who put them together
in their homes on piecework basis. It was the same system that was used
Historically, shoe uppers
always had been considered women's work and this may be all that was done
by the home workers but it is possible that the welting and sole stitching
was done at home as well.
The largest pair of bootees
on record still exists. They are smooth side out, size 17. Three
pairs were specially manufactured for a large Swedish draftee. The
shoes never reached him. A target of his size was just too tempting
and the Confederates killed him before his custom-made shoes got to him.
One pair of his shoes remains in a museum at Susquehana.
Fugawee calls our Northern
or Federal shoe a Contract Bootee because, contrary to pre-war practice,
Army footwear was built by contractors. Naturally, there were slight variations
in the shoes issued to the Northern troops.
We have a letter dated January
1862 from Colonel Crossman, Assistant Quartermaster General describing
the purchase of 1,102,700 pairs of boots and bootees from contractors all
over the North. Contracts were as large as 120,000 pairs from one manufacturer
at Sing Sing, NY (did they have the prison then?) or as small as 300 pairs
from another factory in Pennsylvania. The shoes apparently included work
shoes already on hand. They had been manufactured on lasts (the forms on
which shoes are built) already in the factories. You may be sure
that contractors produced variations in design and fit.. This is borne
out in the Congressional hearings early in 1862.
Some of the testimony is hilarious.
One manufacturer, faced with
the fact that he had supplied shoes that foot soldiers wore out in three
weeks replied, "But those shoes were supposed to go to the Cavalry." So
help me, it is in the Congressional Record of the Washburn Committee..
In early 1862 Crossman reported
his purchases to Congressman E.B. Washhburn, Chairman of the House Committee
to Inquire into Government Contracts (Page 1569, Record of the 37th Congress,
2nd Session) click to read the letter and apologized for having accepted
a small quantity of pegged bootees which had been accepted only because
of the urgency of the war. Regulations called for sewn shoes but cheap
work shoes for the immigrant trade and those for the plantation (slave)
trade had been pegged together since a labor-saving machine that set nine
pegs to the inch came into use.
Which is correct, pegged or
The army did everything it could
to force the contractors to deliver sewn shoes. While a pair of sewn shoes
brought the contractor $1.80 to $2.00 per pair, the Government would pay
only $1.25 for pegged shoes. With Cavalry boots the prices were $3.25 for
sewn and $2.50 for pegged. The Army accepted only 265 pairs of pegged
of cavalry boots out of 183,997 pairs purchased by Colonel Crossman.
In a total of 1,102,700 pairs
of shoes and boots purchased by Col. Crossman only 5.43% were pegged. The
Colonel felt that he had to explain that he had bought the inferior pegged
shoes only because of the exigencies of the war, even though they cost
the Gov't one third less.
Here is a picture of
the sole of an original Civil War issue pegged boot. The split-apart
pegs are diamond-shaped (remember the machine?) and are in two staggered
rows that total nine pegs pr inch. Although it is hard to tell, this is
a left/right shoe.
The shank is riveted in place
and the heel has a close-set row of cut nails to extend wear. The boot
is machine pegged, nine pegs to the inch.
No, that is not stitching,
it is two rows of pegs. They are staggered for strength and to get as many
pegs in the row as possible. Note the rivets on the shank and the close-set
nails in the heel.
Forty percent of Civil War
shoes were made on a pegging machine invented in 1838, It was much like
a two needle sewing machine and almost as fast. The first station was an
awl which made a hole, then the second station drove a peg into the hole.
This machine took a block
of wood that had been cut across the grain and was of a thickness equal
to length of the pegs. The end grain was scored in both directions, making
a "card" full of diamond points. The card was then split by the machine
to free the hundreds of pegs. These fed directly into the next step in
the machine which inserted them in the shoes.
One of the big differences
between the nine-to-the-inch machine-pegged shoes actually used in the
Civil War and the three-or-four-to-the-inch pegging seen on Sutlers' Row
is the fact that machine-set pegs were driven all the way through the leather
until they were flush with the sole. The points that went into the interior
of the shoe were then cut off with special tools before the insole was
glued in. Those pegs were square and straight-sided all through the leather.
Most of today's reproduction
shoes are made with round, polished pegs which are actually made to hold
the shanks of modern cowboy boots. The pointed ends of the pegs are driven
in only until they encounter the metal form inside the shoe. When the points
of the pegs reach the metal, they are cut off on the outside: This means
that the smooth, pointed peg is in a tapered hole. Thus, the shoes have
three or four round, polished and tapered pegs instead of nine straight-sided,
split-off pegs to the inch. The shoe is held together mainly with
glue. The pegs are mostly cosmetic.
Fugawee made "pegged" shoes
until our research showed that the sewn shoes were not only appropriate,
but had been preferred by the military.
About forty percent of all
boots and brogans purchased by the US Army during the Civil War were constructed
with the less expensive pegging process.
During the days of the Soviet
Bloc, the East Germans and Poles used some machine-pegged boots in their
armies. I don't know where you would find a pegging machine today. Fugawee
Jefferson bootees are all sewn as per the basic military regulations during
of the Civil War. Fugawee Jefferson bootees are built on lasts taken
directly from an 1865 boot.
Brogans are also called Jefferson
The Army used the term "Jefferson".
The reason goes back to Thomas Jefferson:
During the French Revolution,
large, fancy shoe buckles were considered the mark of the Aristocrats.
Shortly, wearing any shoe
buckles at all could cause your head to leave your body. Shoe buckles quickly
went out of style in France.
In the United States, Thomas
Jefferson was a strong supporter of the French Revolution so, at his inauguration
in 1801 he wore laced-up shoes.. This set a fashion. All laced shoes
soon were called "Jefferson Shoes."
The term "Jefferson" continued
to mean laced shoes until the early twentieth century. "Bootee"
is a diminutive of "Boot" and signifies a short boot. "Brogan" is
derived from "Brogue", an English term for a rugged shoe that almost covered
the ankle as opposed to a shoe which was lower and a boot which was higher.
The majority of Confederate
shoes came through the blockade and were made much in the fashion of an
English military boot and of riveted or nailed construction. The British
did not make many shoes with pegs until the 1870's when they started to
use them in leather sea boots because pegs were not corroded by sea water..
Questions answered at 1 904