Ensemble, Metropolitan Museum of Art: Costume Institute

Purchase, Alfred Z. Solomon-Janet A. Sloane Endowment Fund and Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2008
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Medium: wool, cotton, leather, metal

The Algerian Zouave uniform was adopted by French soldiers in North
Africa in the 1830s and later inspired the dress of American militia and
volunteer units during the Civil War. This near-complete uniform of the
Keystone Zouaves, manufactured at the Schuylkill Arsenal in
Pennsylvania, consists of an appliquéd jacket with a false vest,
full-cut pants with ties at the waist and cuff, a pair of brown leather
jambieres, or shin guards, and white cotton leggings, all characteristic
elements of the Zouave style. This example was worn by Private Jediah
K. Burnham, who joined the Keystone Zoaves, Company A of the 76th
Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, in 1863. Among the uniforms
in the Museum’s collection, this ensemble best represents a military
style that precipitated a wider civilian fashion trend. The Zouave
uniform was popularly cited in details of women’s tailored attire as
well as children’s clothes from the 1860s onward.


The American Civil War was the fucking ComicCon of uniforms. “This Southern regiment wore imitation M1858 uniforms”, “that regiment was mostly foreign-born so they dressed like bersaglieri and had their motto translated into Italian on their battle flag”, “this fucking regiment of Irishmen wore zouave uniforms because fucking die angry”.