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Civil War Zouave jacket

unknown place made
Origin Date:
Item ID:
Holding Institution:
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum
Available for Viewing:
Three-dimensional Objects


This is a cropped jacket made from a heathered blue wool with decorative elements of blue crescents and red trim. The breast is heavily padded and the rounded placket is red. The waistline and neckline are also trimmed in red. Navy blue crescents are present on the front of the jacket adjacent to the armscye on each side. There is slight ruching at the shoulders. The jacket features long shaped sleeves with red trim at the cuffs. Navy blue crescents are appliqued above the cuffs. The waist features notches. The cropped jacket is lined with cream-colored polished cotton and features a patch pocket sewn in the proper left breast. Indiana, Vigo County, Terre Haute. This jacket was the uniform jacket of the "Vigo Guards," not Vigo County Guards as some have called the company. This Terre Haute, Indiana, unit became Company D, 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry [General Lew Wallace's Zouave regiment] during the Civil War. This jacket was worn by Corporal John E. Wilkins (1836-1911), Co. D, for a short time during the first three months' service of the 11th. From late April to early May 1861, Corporal Wilkins served on a detail of two corporals and six privates as a guard at the office of Governor Oliver Morton. The 11th moved on to Evansville, Indiana, and then to Romney, Virginia, where it participated in one of the first skirmishes of the war. The 11th (Three Month) mustered out on August 2, 1861. On August 17, John Wilkins was commissioned a second lieutenant in Co. D, 11th IVI (Three Years) and was soon promoted to first lieutenant of Co. A. Lieutenant Wilkins served with Co. A until resigning his commission on March 28, 1862, following the Battle of Fort Donelson. In April 1863, Wilkins was commissioned a second lieutenant in Co. I, 16th Indiana. That commission was quickly revoked and he was recommissioned as adjutant of the 16th in July. During his service with the 16th, the regiment was engaged at Port Gibson and Vicksburg, and in the Bayou Teche and Red River Campaigns. Adjutant Wilkins mustered out with the regiment in New Orleans on June 30, 1865. The 11th Indiana was initially a Zouave unit, so identified by their distinctive uniforms. Members of these units, the most famous of which was the New York (City) Fire Zouaves, patterned themselves after what many considered the fiercest warriors of the time, those of the Ottoman Empire. Confusion caused by the array of uniforms that were present at First Bull Run resulted in the Zouave uniforms being quickly abandoned in favor of the standard Union blue uniform. Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum To see excerpts from John Wilkins' diary, and the other related Wilkins artifacts, go to the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection website and search for the John E. Wilkins curated grouping of artifacts titled "A Civil War Soldier: John E. Wilkins of Vigo County, Indiana" or copy and paste the following URL into a browser: http://www.lincolncollection.org/collection/curated-groupings/category/john-e-wilkins/ Other Wilkins artifacts in this collection are: Officer's sash, 71.2009.082.0700 Epaulets, 71.2009.082.0715 Part of the sword belt, 71.2009.082.0423 Belt and buckle, 71l2009.082.0717 Civil War blanket pin, 71.2009.082.0718 Wadsworth Pipe razor, 71.2009.082.0720a-c Morely & Sons Silver Steel Razors 71.2009.082.0721a-c Mess kit spoon, 71.2009.082.0719 Crepe worn during Lincoln's funeral events, 71.2009.082.0048 Photograph taken later in life, LN-2595 1855 Indiana State Fair ribbon, 71.2009.082.0208 1860 Indiana State Fair ribbon, 71.2009.082.0209