Red Blankets & Blue Blouses

Rhode Island’s first responders after the bombardment of Fort Sumter wore a unique uniform that featured distinctive blue pullover blouses, gray trousers and black hats. Also conspicuous was a scarlet bedroll. Trimmed in black and designed to be slung across the back, they doubled as a poncho—an idea from Ambrose E. Burnside, the colonel and commander of the 1st Rhode Island Detached Militia.

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