Albert J. Bannon (also listed as “Bannen”) was born in Philadelphia and mustered into service on August 23, 1861 in Company I, 95th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Bannon was promoted to corporal in the fall of 1864 and reenlisted as a veteran volunteer in November 1864 for an additional three years of service. When the regiment was consolidated into a battalion of five companies, Corporal Bannon was transferred to Company C. On April 2, 1865, Bannon and Sgt. John Cook of Company D were cited in the regimental report for their courage in being some of the first men of the battalion into the Confederate works during the course of the general attack on Fort Fisher, the two laying claim to a Confederate cannon after driving off its gunners. Promoted to sergeant, he was designated color bearer for the 95th Pennsylvania in 1865 and served with the regiment until mustered out of service on July 17, 1865. Bannon’s jacket, testament, sergeant stripes and a flag he carried as color bearer are in the possession of Russ Wunker, Ontario, Canada.
Bannon’s jacket, testament, and several other items have survived and are today in a private collection. The jacket is a Schuylkill Arsenal product, shows wear and age but is in remarkable condition given that it was probably worn all fours years of Bannon’s service. The jacket body is three piece, made of a medium weight dark blue wool and two piece sleeves with the red wool trim applied by hand. Typical of all Schuylkill Arsenal items, the jacket is completely hand sewn, the thread long haven turned to the characteristic brown typical of 1860’s thread dyed with logwood. The body lining is a three piece pattern matching the exterior seams and made of a brown plaid cotton shirt material with no padding in the chest. The lining pieces are hand sewn together with the side and bottom edges pressed under and whip stitched over the wool facings. There is long, narrow pocket set into the left breast, the opening along the lining edge with the pocket made of a polished cotton material. The throat hook and eyelet are sewn directly into the coat body. The facings inside are left with the edges raw and whip stitched into place around the collar and lower back, with reinforcements around each of the bottom vents. The sleeves are lined in white muslin with reinforcements at each cuff.
AT LEFT: Reverse of Bannon’s jacket, showing the two diving seams to the lower back with off set vents. The trim above the vents rise to a sharp triangular point, a slight variance in comparison to the other examples featured on this site. The wool of the jacket body has a smooth finish, similar to a high quality broadcloth but is slightly heavier in weight when compared to the broadcloth used in regular Army dress coats.
AT LEFT: Typical of the zouave jacket design, the sleeves are quite wide at the elbow with a slight gathering at the shoulders. The cuffs are trimmed with the red wool strip and flattened cord, ending with a sharp “V” in the bottom seam of each sleeve, a slight variation compared to the cuff design seen in the Rockhill and Wilson manufactured jackets. The two one half-inch dome shaped buttons are present on both cuffs.
AT LEFT: Collar and throat closure detail of Bannon’s jacket. The hook and clasp are still there made of a japanned iron. Note the two piece interior facing of dark blue broadcloth, whip stitched into place. Sixteen one half-inch diameter dome shaped buttons run down each lapel of the jacket, placed between the trim and flatten cord piping, which is hand tacked to the jacket.
AT RIGHT: The jacket’s lining is made of a brown plaid, heavy weave cotton material similar to the material used for shirts and dresses of the period. This same material has been found in Schuylkill Arsenal jackets documented to the 76th Pennsylvania and 23rd Pennsylvania regiments. Note the facings at the bottom of the jacket, sewn over the lining and jacket body.
BELOW: Albert Bannon’s surviving color sergeant stripes, worn when he bore the 95th Pennsylvania’s regimental flag (the state flag) in 1865, with its own set of embroidered flags, and the pocket testament he carried during service. The sleeves of Bannon’s jacket show evidence of the sergeant’s stripes having once been sewn to them and why they were removed is a mystery. Evidently only one of the pair of stripes survived. On the inside flap of Bannon’s pocket testament is written, “clipped by a rebel bullet, May 12, 1864”, which occurred during the bloody fighting at the Bloody Angle or “Mule Shoe”, Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia. The testament must have been in Bannon’s vest pocket, the bullet tearing away the corner of the heavy cardboard cover and a portion of its pages. Inside the testament Bannon also pasted a clipping from a Philadelphia newspaper listing the 95th Pennsylvania’s casualties at Spotsylvania, his name included among the many.
I gratefully acknowledge the courteous assistance of Russ Wunker for loaning me Bannon’s jacket, testament, sergeant stripes and other items, which are highlighted in this study.