I have a photograph of a relative in uniform, likely from the 1800's. He's listed as a corporal. Any ideas as to the time period for this uniform. On the back of the photograph is written, "corporal Harry Adamson, K 4th o v

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2 Answers 2


In the US Civil war there was 4th Ohio Volunteers, a 3 month regiment raised in 1861, and another 4th Ohio Volunteers, a 3 year regiment that served in 1861-65.

There was another 4th Ohio volunteers, also known as the 14 Ohio National Guard, During the Spanish-American War in 1898.


Thus you photo should be from either 1861-65 or 1898. If you have any evidence of when your relative lived that should help you identify which war he was in.

You should be able to find and search databases of Cival war and Spanish American War soldiers.

  • Harry lived from 1876 - 1945. I should have put that in the original post. (Newbie mistake!) The Spanish American war is likely. Will do more research.
    – Nosmada
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 20:00

Question: Is this Civil War era uniform?

Short Answer: No that particular sack coat, I do not believe is a civil war era coat. Probable the Spanish American War. "K 4th o v" refers to killed, and 4th Ohio Infantry(volunteers) who saw action in both the civil war and spanish American war. To me the buttons appear to be wrong for this to be a civil war era sack coat.

Detail Answer:

4th Ohio Infantry saw action in the Spanish American War in Puerto Rico.

4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
The 4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry saw service in Puerto Rico during the Spanish American War.

That appears to be a sack coat. US enlisted soldiers during the Civil War were issued this blouse, commonly called a "sack coat". These were the most issued and used garments during the civil war. Invented, or first used?, in Europe 1857, they were a significant change from the more fancy frilly uniforms which preceded them. They were adopted by the United States during the civil war because they were easy to make and functional. Warm made out of heavy 20 oz wool. Necessary because the US army grew from 16,215 in 1860 to 1 million men in 1865. That's a lot of uniforms.

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Notes on the Federal Issue of Sack Coat
The Federal issue sack coat of ihe Civil War is a paradoxical garment. In its day it was cheap, common, utilitarian, and entirely lacking in military panache; in fact, it was rather homely. It was used.hard until worn out, issued out as second rate clothing during the Indian Wars, given out to reservation Indians, and finally ending up as moth fodder in great-greatgrandfather's attic. Yet no other 'common' Federal Civil War garment has generated such intense interest among 20th Centu~y collectors or commanded such premium prices as the humble fatigue sack coat.

The problem here is that there were multiple versions of the sack coat used by the US army over the years. The 4 button used in the civil war and a five button used after 1874. We don't have enough of the picture to tell which which we are looking at here. From counting or positioning the buttons we can see.

Looking at the Buttons. (Zooming in)..

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It appears to me the blown up button on this blouse looks more like the button used after 1885. Going by the angle of the eagle's head and neck forming more of a right angle than a curve. Also the eagle's wings.

Survey of U.S. Army Uniforms, Weapons, and Accoutrements enter image description here

I also found a Congressional record documenting the promotion of a Harry Adamson, to second lieutenant. here page 3357 But that's from 1917.

And in 1934, the Promotion of Major Harry Adamson see page 100 second column

  • This is very help information and gives me several new leads to explore!
    – Nosmada
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 20:02
  • That particular Harry Adamson was born in England on 6 Feb 1894 and entered service from Massachusetts. Decorations included the SS, BS and PH. Completed the Tank Sch 24, then the Infantry Co Off Course 25 and then QM Sch 35. He was 2LT, Infantry, Mass NG 16 Dec 15 to 24 Jun 16; the same 12 Nov 16 to 9 Feb 17, specifically, 2LT, 2d Inf Mass NG 25 Jun 16 to 11 Nov 16. Appointed 2LT, Infantry, USA 14 Jun 17 promoted 1LT same date. CPT (temp) 4 Mar 18 to 20 Apr 20. Appointed CPT QMC, 1 Jul 20; MAJ QMC 1 Aug 35; LTC QMC, 1 Jul 40. COL AUS Ord, 1 Jan 42; COL USA retired 30 Apr 47
    – R Leonard
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 18:46

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