Officers' Quarters-Tools of the Trade

U. S. Army Officer-1840s White Gloves Belt and Sash Officer's Saber Officer's Sack Coat Fatigue Cap


  • Sack Coat - Typically worn by Captains and Lieutenants, the single breasted Officer's Blouse was intended as the fatigue coat for US Junior grade officers
  • Fatigue Cap
  • Sash - Made of extra high quality silk with a tassel on each end. Maroon sashes were worn by junior officers-lieutenants and captains.
  • Belt - Made of black leather with a brass buckle with the initials U.S.
  • Officer's Saber - These sabers were worn at the side primarily for ceremonial purposes and not necessarily as weapons.
  • White Gloves - One source suggests that white gloves were worn to denote privilege-(eg. being above manual labor) although white gloves were worn by enlisted and officers alike when in dress uniform.
Offwife Model
Reenactor dressed as an officer's wife with several of the accoutrements listed at the left.
Bonnet Parasol Ridicule Fan Dress


  • Dress
  • Parasol - Used to shield women from the sun instead of the rain. A fair skin complexion was highly valued.
  • Fan - To keep cool with.
  • Ridicule - A purse.
  • Bonnet - A woman would never have been outside without a hat or bonnet for a covering.
  • Day Cap - worn indoors by married women or spinsters.
  • Gloves or Mitts
  • White Stockings
  • Shoes - slipper-style
  • Hair - pulled back in a bun.
  • Undergarments -
    • Corset and corset cover
    • Several petticoats
    • Chemise
    • Drawers

While in quarters, officers liked to read and entertain guests. While men and women dined together, they often split afterwards as their topics of conversations tended to differ. Beyond that most of the officer's leisure activities took place away from his quarters. They included hunting and horseback riding. More information on these activities can be found on the leisure activities section of the virtual resource center.

Flowers and Herbs
Flowers and Herbs
  • Wildflowers or pressed flowers - Flower pressing is a method used to preserve flowers. Flowers could be pressed in a book. Once dried they could then be framed, used in pictures, etc. Shown to the right are bookmarks, a flower picture and a flower book, with close ups of the latter two below.
  • Herbs or flowers - One of the officers' wives favorite pastimes was the growing of an herb garden. Herbs were used for seasoning food, insect repellent, and for a variety of medicinal purposes. In small bottles and spread out on the doily to the right is the herb-rosemary-used for a wide variety of purposes.
Flowers Flower Book Pressed Flowers
Hand sewn items
Hand sewn items from right to left-crochet, tatting and knitting.
  • Hand sewing - Officers' wives liked to try their hands at tatting, knitting, crochet, needle point, and embroidery. Shown on the table from right to left are examples of crochet, tatting, and knitting. (Close up of tatting is shown below).

Diaries and Journals of an Officer's Wife
Shown on this table are an officer's wife journal, period literature, and a water painting.
  • Poetry or appropriate literature - They loved to read.
  • Journals and letters - Many officers' wives kept journals of their experiences on the frontier. These journals combined with letters that they wrote to family and friends are some of the best sources we have about life on the military frontier at this time.
Hand Fan
Next Page

Last updated: July 25, 2016

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 918
Fort Scott, KS 66701


620 223-0310

Contact Us