In cleaning their clothes, Civil War soldiers knew that, to avoid shrinkage, they had to be aware of three elements:
- Mechanical action
The stains on their uniforms, which were made from wool or a cotton-based (denim-like material), generally fell into three categories:
- Grass and mud stains
- Black powder
- Food stains
Civil War re-enacting is a fun hobby and a terrific way to study history. Classic Cleaners’ partner Steve Arnold certainly thinks so. Posing at the far left of the photograph below, Arnold was taking part a 2001 re-enactment of the first major battle of the Civil War, Manassas, which took place in 1861 in the state of Virginia. The uniforms worn by the re-enactors were actually reproduced on 100-year old looms, copied from photographs of the original uniforms of the Liberty Hall Volunteers from Lexington, Virgina.
Clothing back in Civil War days was made to last for many years. Garments would be reworked and repaired until they were threadbare, and yet people took a lot of pride in the appearance of their clothing. Needless to say, battlefield solders had to make do, brushing their uniforms as best they could, as well as washing their garments in lakes or streams.
Hand-brushing garments, as a matter of fact, is still one of several hand-care techniques used at Classic Cleaners today for treating challenging stains and for restoring “nap” to fabrics (although black powder is rarely a problem nowadays!). In place of the crude lye soaps of Civil War times, skilled Classic Cleaners technicians have available an assortment of specialty cleaning chemicals to help restore and clean garments of every vintage!
Reb of the Classic Cleaners blog team