Readers of this blog may be interested in seeing photographs of an unusual civilian-style summer weight vest in my possession with identified Confederate provenance. This unique item of clothing was handed down to me by my late paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Clyburn Williams of Richmond, Virginia. The vest has a standing collar with front panels and interfacing made from a white cotton pique (pronounced pea-kay) of intricate raised design. It is completely hand sewn with nine exquisitely rendered buttonholes down the left front. No buttons remain although some of the original attachment threads do. The back panel and interior lining are of coarsely woven cotton homespun. The vest is pieced on the left side interior in two places, a trait seen on many items from this period. The accompanying photographs provide additional detail. Please left click on images for enlarged views.
Accompanying this garment is a note in my grandmother’s handwriting certifying: “This vest was worn by one of Grandmother Vaughan’s brothers – during the Civil War.” Said “Grandmother Vaughan” was originally Anne Elizabeth Yancey of Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Anne Yancey had four brothers, three of whom had known Confederate service records. They are:
Edward Bozeman Yancey: Wright’s Co. Halifax (VA) Artillery. Enlisted as private at age 23 in Halifax Co. on 3/18/1862. Promoted to Ordnance Sergeant and served at Franklin Depot from Jan.-June 1863. Transferred to Ordnance Department at Petersburg on unknown date. Battery played key role in Battle of the Crater. Captured in retreat from Richmond/Petersburg and paroled at Farmville 4/21/1865. Died at South Boston, VA, 4/23/1918.
James K. Yancey: 1st Virginia Infantry. Enlisted at age 36 on 1/23/1863 in Halifax Co., VA in Company “I.” Occupation listed as shoemaker. Wounded at the Battle of Clay’s Farm [on the Howlett/Bermuda Hundred lines] on 6/16/1864. Admitted to Chimborazo Hospital No. 5 on 6/20/1864. Died of wounds 9/23/1864.
Patrick Henry Yancey: 20th Virginia Infantry. Enlisted at Clover Depot, Halifax Co., VA as a private in Company “H” [Clover Rifles] on 5/28/1861.Described as being 5’10” tall, having a light complexion, and blue eyes with light hair. He was 5 feet 9.9 inches tall. Pre-war occupation shown as clerk. Made POW on 7/11/1861 when entire company captured at the Battle of Rich Mountain, WV. Paroled on 7/17/1861 at Randolph County, WV. Reenlisted in Company H, 20th Virginia Infantry Regiment on 5/28/1862 after parole deemed invalid. Regiment disbanded October 1862. Subsequent war service undetermined. Yancey Street in South Boston, VA is named after him.
William F. Yancey: No definite Compiled Service Record found. Born 7/12/1833. Anecdotal family record indicates death by fever in Corinth, MS, date unknown.
Unfortunately, we will likely never know which of the men above owned this vest or the extent of its actual war usage. Nonetheless, it remains a splendid example of Civil War era material culture.
By Bob Williams