Civil War Civilian Living History

Interpreting the American Civil War Home Front

General Information

Modern eyeglasses are discouraged at most Civil War reenactments. Oval wire frame glasses are permissible, but the best solutions include contact lenses, antique or reproduction frames fitted with your prescription, or going without. Period frames can be found through sutlers and other suppliers as well as on Ebay. My pet peeve: modern sunglasses are to be avoided. 

The most popular eyeglass frame design in the 1860s was a straight temple piece and an oval lens. Depending on your impression, you may opt for an older style with square or octagon lenses.

glasses1 glasses2




The use of tobacco by women should be limited to lower class and some rural middle class impressions primarily through the use of clay or corncob pipes, possibly cigars (although not as likely), and chewing or dipping tobacco (see Vicki Betts’ article on the use of tobacco).

Men are allowed more freedom in the use of tobacco such as cigars, pipes, dip, chew, or hand rolled cigarettes. There are several threads on the Authentic Campaigner forums regarding the use of tobacco. Use the search function for “tobacco” or “smoking”.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind:

  • All fibers should be 100% natural fibers (wool, silk, cotton, or linen), and the clothing should be suited to your impression.
  • Use accurate historic patterns and processes for all garments.
  • Visible details should be finished appropriately to the era; in many cases, this means some handwork.
  • Use only buttons or hooks and eyes for closures (never zippers, velcro, or snaps)
  • Buttonholes should be hand sewn.
  • Remember to remove items such as wristwatches, fingernail polish, body jewelry not appropriate for the 1860s.
  • Hide tattoos that are not appropriate for the 1860.
  • Keep modern makeup to a minimum such as sunscreen and natural color lip balm.
  • John Wayne-type bandannas are inappropriate for the 1860s.