It was John Gosline’s intent to make his regiment a unique one and given the popularity of the “zouave” genre for their bright appearance and spirit, he chose to have his regiment be one of those distinguished by the brightly decorated uniform but with definite American influences. Gosline placed a contract with officials at the Schuylkill Arsenal for uniforms of a unique design, though the basics of the uniform were similar in many ways to the zouave uniforms made for the 72nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, known as “Baxter’s Fire Zouaves”. The uniform consisted of dark blue wool jacket and trousers with matching flannel shirt. and forage cap piped in red trim, with dark leather gaiters. Colonel Gosline paraded his company through Philadelphia in hopes of attracting new recruits and the tactic worked. Soon the camp was overflowing with new men who were signed and mustered, and formed into companies. It was soon after when officials at Schuylkill Arsenal informed Colonel Gosline they could no longer provide his regiment with the distinctive uniform he desired. Not to be daunted in his efforts, Gosline secured a contract with Rockhill and Wilson Clothiers of Philadelphia for the remainder of the uniforms to be manufactured and delivered. Rockhill and Wilson also manufactured uniforms for the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry and the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry, but made good on their contract with Gosline and company by company, the men were outfitted with the new zouave uniform.
[Photo from Echoes of Glory, Uniforms and Equipment of the Union, edited by Henry Woodhead, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, VA, 1991, p. 147, which erroneously identifies this soldier as a member of 72nd PA.]
The cap design was based on the then-popular “chasseur” pattern, made of broadcloth, trimmed in red piping with a squared leather visor, painted on the top side. This example at left, from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, is a primary pattern cap made for the regiment at Schuylkill Arsenal, though some of the later caps made by Rockhill and Wilson, had patent leather visors with a modified crown.
The Gosline jacket was made of wool broadcloth and trimmed in red tape and piping down the front and around the cuffs. The brass buttons were sewn into the coat lapels and front as well as the cuff. This example at left, from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, is a primary pattern jacket made for the regiment at Schuylkill Arsenal in 1861. Note how these jackets are designed with loyalty to the original zouave pattern, sweeping open from the throat to expose the waist with the bottom vents set to the side of the waist. The primary difference in these jackets is the standing collar, not seen in foreign zouave uniform designs. Though other parts of the early zouave uniform wore out and were not replaced, the jackets were supplied throughout the war even to recruits mustered into the regiment in 1864 and 1865. The jacket was the only remaining trace of the original Gosline uniform by the end of the war when the regiment mustered out of service in July 1865.
Click on the links here for detailed studies on surviving uniforms, the Gosline Zouave as he appeared in the field, and information on efforts to reproduce the Gosline uniform: