Civil War – Jimmy

James Allen is the name that I took upon enlistment into the Confederate Army. I fall in with the 4th Texas Unit I and have earned the rank of Private. I first began my adventures in Civil War Re-enactments as a role study for my opera training. As a Mezzo-Soprano, and because of my stature and nature, I am often cast as a boy. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I took heart the challenge of being a convincing male character and that is where Jimmy came into play. If I was to play boys, I didn’t want the audience to know that I was a chick in pants.

Civil War – Jimmy

The study took a good year to polish before I officially took up the name of James, or Jimmy, and fell in with the Texas unit for re-enactments. The butternut uniform jacket that I wore was a period shell jacket in the style of the Richmond Depot jackets that was actually made with camel wool. Something I would not suggest for the faint of heart. The roughness of the camel hair was to give it a more “authentic” feel of the shoddy wool that was used by the Confederate Army at that time. However, they don’t make things like that anymore and for the “hard core” some will use this awful wool for the “authentic experience”. Let it be known that I hated those pants because of how scratchy they were. When I found out that I could have softer wool Union pants and still be period correct, I had a pair in my possession before the next camp.

The undershirt, vest and breeches are all cotton while my shoes, or “brogans” are custom made, leather shoes. Don’t think fancy because of the leather bit. They don’t even come in a left or a right shoe since they can go on either foot without it mattering.

This is about the time that I started working with breast binding. Depending on the look, I have at least four or five different styles to wear or use and have extensively used binding as a cross dressing cosplayer. While this study originally was for opera, I also found my love of hand sewing and period sewing techniques during my war time misadventures. Even though Jimmy has long since been put to rest, I will always have fond memories of those days.

Side note – I am happy to report that I was undetected in the army for some time until my cover was blown by a Corporal. If you ever have chance to ask me in person, it is a delightful story.