GAF Uniform Policy

GAF Policy No. 3
October 2008
Rev 1 - 10/20/08
Rev 2 - 03/17/15

  1. The Goal and Mission of the Grand Army of the Frontier (GAF) is to honor the memories and achievements of the late Victorian-era military of all nations between 1860 and 1902, with a particular emphasis on American army on the Western Frontier between 1860 and 1900, though the pursuit and sharing of knowledge, and by actively participating in the hobbies of Cowboy Action Shooting, historical reenacting, living history programs, skirmishing, social events, and other activities while wearing appropriate military attire.

  2. To further honor the memories and achievements of the Victorian-era military, the GAF encourages its members to wear an appropriate uniform of their choice when participating in GAF events, or other events in which they represent the GAF. However, no member of the GAF is required to acquire or wear a uniform.

  3. The GAF recognizes that our membership includes both veterans and non-veterans, and makes no limitation or restriction on what uniforms our members wear as long as they are worn respectfully.

  4. These guidelines apply only to the wearing of a period uniform at any GAF sponsored or hosted event. GAF members attending a non-GAF sponsored or hosted event should apply good judgment to insure the GAF is not falsely or negatively represented.

  5. Choosing a Uniform. There are few restrictions on what uniforms are acceptable at GAF functions, but members can base their decision on one or more of the following examples:

    1. Personal History. GAF members who served in the armed forces may create an equivalent period uniform to honor their actual service. This option may require some creativity since some services, corps (branches), ranks and occupational fields did not exist in the Victorian-era the GAF represents and a appropriate equivalent may need to be chosen.

    2. Personas. GAF members may develop a persona to help guide them in assembling their uniform. The most basic information would be to determine when and where you entered military service, what regiment or corps you served with, where that unit served and campaigns/battles it was in. Additional information such as when and where your were born and lived, education, pre-service occupation, and promotion and service postings can also help establish who and what you are.

    3. Family History. GAF members may create a uniform to honor an ancestor who served in the Victorian-era military.

    4. Specific Interest. GAF members may create a uniform for a unit that served in their local area, a campaign or battle they are particularly interested in, a specific unit or individual they have an interest in, to compliment their choice of firearms for GAF competition, or some other factor.

  6. Time Period. The Victorian-era, as defined for the GAF is between the years of 1860-1904, or as roughly equates to the black powder cartridge era.

    1. Some leeway on the exact time period is permitted, depending on the member's individual interests but should not exceed that of the Crimean War (1854-1855) and the Pershing Expedition into Mexico (1916). Uniforms of the First World War are not authorized.

  7. Nationality. GAF members may wear the uniform of any nation, country, state, military or para-military organization that existed during our time period they so choose.

  8. Service. GAF members may wear the uniform of any military or para-military service, to include but not restricted to the Army, Navy, Marines, National Guard, Militia, Territorials, and post-war veteran organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic.

    1. Para-military is defined as any unit raised during our time period for the purpose of providing protection against hostile forces or criminals. The Northwest Mounted Police is an example this type of unit.

  9. Rank. GAF members may wear any rank they chose but with the understanding that this does not give them any authority or privilege over other GAF members.

    1. GAF members who hold a position of responsibility within the GAF are identified by the use of a Brevet or Acting rank. These members are encouraged, but not required, to wear their GAF rank on an appropriate uniform of their choice, but may equally wear any uniform and rank of their choosing in keeping with the options in paragraph 4.

  10. Dress Uniform. For GAF purposes, a dress uniform is defined as any uniform that would have been worn for parade, formal inspection, daily duty in garrison, and for social occasions. This may include, but is not restricted to what was variously known as Full Dress, Dress, Undress, Mess Dress, etc. A dress uniform is most appropriately worn for GAF and other organizational social events, but not for shooting activities.

    1. Service and War Stripes. The US Army authorized a stripe to be worn on the lower sleeve for each enlistment (typically three years for infantry and five years for cavalry), with those enlistments served during wartime to be trimmed in red. Since many GAF members are creating a uniform based on a persona they have created, which may include long service and at least one war, the wearing of a appropriate service and war stripes is up to the individual. For those creating an equivalent uniform of their own service in the armed forces, they may wear the appropriate number of service and wartime stripes.

  11. Field Uniform. For GAF purposes, the field uniform is defined as any uniform worn for duty in the field, fatigue duties, or such other occasions where a formal uniform would be inappropriate for the time period. A field uniform is most appropriately worn during GAF and other organizational shooting events.

  12. Authenticity. The GAF encorages members to wear the most authenic uniforms possible. However, the level of authenticity is up to the individual member based on their particular interest, the availability of the items, and cost considerations. Since 19th century uniform regulations were not as precise, clothing was tailor made or modified, and some items were worn after newer items were authorized, GAF members who enter a GAF uniform competition should be prepared to explain any deviations from the uniform regulations of the period.

    1. Regulation Uniforms. A regulation uniform is defined as one that reasonably follows the uniform regulations for a particular country or service for a specified time period. Reference should be made to the official regulations as well as images of the period.
    2. Silver Screen Uniforms. Uniforms based on those worn in film and on TV are perfectly acceptable for wear in the GAF.

  13. Medals and Awards. The GAF authorizes its own medals and awards to be worn on the uniform. Recognizing that each country and service had its own regulations regarding their placement, the GAF member is advised to follow the appropriate regulations or customs when wearing their particular uniform. With the exception of the GAF medal, Iron Trooper Award, and Marksmanship Badge, no more than three additional medals, as described below, may be worn on the coat at a GAF event. Those in civilian attire may wear these medals at their discretion and how they deem most appropriate for their attire.

    1. The GAF Medal identifies members of the GAF and may be worn at the member's discretion, but most certainly should be worn when attending GAF events, or representing the GAF. The GAF medal is a replication of Grand Army of the Republic post-civil war veteran organization medals and thus may be appropriately worn with civilian attire. The GAF Medal takes precedence over all other medals worn on the coat. It will be either worn to the extreme right of all other medals, or worn above all other medals (except for the Marksmanship Badge and the Iron Trooper Award).

    2. Commander's Citation. The Commander's Citation is awarded by the GAF Commander to a member who has significantly contributed to the advancement and promotion of the GAF. It is designated by a silver oak leaf cluster device worn at the top of the ribbon the GAF Medal.

    3. Star of Merit. The GAF awards the Star of Merit for a variety of actions and activities. Up to five stars may be placed on the GAF medal. A bronze star represents one Star of Merit, a silver star represents five Stars of Merit, and a gold star represents 25 Stars of Merit.

    4. Veteran's V. GAF members who are currently serving or have served honorably in the armed forces are authorized to wear a "V" at the bottom of their GAF Medal.

    5. Color Guard. Those GAF members who serve or have served on a GAF organized Color Guard may wear a "Color Guard" Bar on their GAF medal. The wearing of this bar is optional.

    6. Muster medals. The GAF presents military-style medals at its annual Grand Musters and Regional Musters. Up to three of these may be worn on the breast of the dress uniform, but no more than one first place, one second place, and one third place. Subsequent awards (regardless of the category) may be designated by a star on the ribbon.

    7. Marksmanship Badge. The GAF Marksmanship Badge is a simple silver bar engraved with "Marksman" and may be worn on both the dress and field uniforms at the wearer's discretion. It will be worn over the GAF Medal.

    8. Iron Trooper Medal. The Iron Trooper Medal is awarded at the Grand Muster for doing well in both the Battle Rifle shooting categories and uniform competition. The Iron Trooper Medal is suspended around the neck on a ribbon and does not count against the three Muster medals that may be worn on the breast of the uniform.

    9. Modern decorations, medals, qualification badges, and unit patches. No modern military decorations, medals, ribbons, badges, or unit patches are authorized.

    10. Decorations of Valor. No awards of valor (US Medal of Honor, British Victoria Cross, etc), modern or period replications, may be worn with the uniform at GAF functions or events, or when the member is representing the GAF, with the following exceptions:

      1. The member has actually been awarded their nation's highest decoration for valor (Medal of Honor, Victoria Cross, etc). A period-style replica decoration is authorized to be worn if the modern decoration is of a significantly different pattern.

      2. The member is portraying an individual who was awarded a decoration for valor in a living history program. This caveat does not include attending a GAF social event, at which time the GAF member should only wear those GAF awards to which entitled.

  14. Other Badges and Medals.

    1. SASS and CAS club badges. When in uniform and attending a GAF sponsored or hosted event GAF members should refrain from wearing the various "lawman" type badges indicating membership in SASS or a CAS-style shooting organization which look out of place on a military uniform. Those desiring to show their membership in these organizations are encouraged to suspend the badge from a ribbon so that it looks like a military award.

    2. Historic medals. Various vendors sell reproduction medals of those issued to veterans of the Civil War, Indian Wars and Spanish American War. Since these medals were issued in the early 20th century, they are anachronisms for the GAF and should not be worn when attending a GAF sponsored or hosted event. There is no restriction on wearing these at non-GAF events.

  15. GAF Insignia.

    1. The GAF has its own collar and hat insignia and belt plate, based on that worn by the Grand Army of the Republic after the American Civil War. These may be worn in lieu of the equivalent regulations items on the uniform at any time.
    2. Department, District and Division emblems. A Department, District, or Division may select one of the many American Civil War corps devices (various crosses, shields, etc) to wear as a recognition device. The appropriate Department, District or Division Commander will select the device and insure that it is not being worn by another Department, District or Division. Many of these devices are easily obtained through vendors who cater to Civil War reenactors.
    3. The GAF also has a reduced size belt buckle that may we worn with modern civilian attire.

  16. Uniforms for Female Members. With rare exception, women were not authorized to join the military or wear military uniforms during the Victorian era. However, the GAF recognizes that some female GAF members want to enter into the spirit of the GAF by wearing a uniform. Consequently, the following options are permitted:

    1. Vivandiere. Vivandières played an interesting and often obscure role in the American Civil War. The term Vivandière is usually applied only to women who served with Zouave outfits, and occasionally other ethnic units, since they were officially under this title apparently only in France. Most Vivandières were mascots, present for parades and reviews but not often seen in battle. Their uniforms generally consisted of jackets copied from those of their units, many times with feminine touches such as extra braid or lace. They wore men's pants under a knee-length skirt, similar to the bathing and gymnastics uniforms of the period. It is interesting to note that many Vivandières had pants which were sewn in two sections, cotton from the waist to just above the skirt hem, with wool starting at the hemline, so that they appeared to be wearing the same wool pants as their male companions. (Reference:

    2. Daughters and Wives of the Regiment. Daughters and wives of the regiment were women who were as much a part of the regiment as were the soldiers. For the most part they wore typical female attire of the period, but sometimes they might put together a very stylized outfit based on the uniform worn by their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sweethearts. These usually were riding habits based on military uniforms. These can be highly stylized outfits based on uniform worn by European hussars, lancers, and others, or simple ones (such as worn by Joanne Dru in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon").

    3. Disguised as a man. Some women disguised themselves as men and enlisted as soldiers, wearing the same regulation uniforms as worn by their male counterparts. Women who chose this option should wear their hair short or up and no make-up, particularly if they are participating in the uniform competition.

    4. Formal gowns or dresses with a patriotic theme may be worn by women members whenever dress uniforms are authorized.

  17. Scouts. GAF members who prefer not to wear a uniform are permitted to wear appropriate civilian attire when participating in GAF events or representing the GAF.

    1. Scouts should wear suits or "showman" attire when attending occasions calling for a dress uniform. Showman attire is defined as the fancy outfits worn in Wild West shows.

    2. Scouts should wear appropriate frontier attire as would have been worn in the field on campaign during shooting events. Scouts should attempt to wear clothing that will readily identify them as scouts and not as cowboys, townsmen, lawmen, etc.

  18. Uniform Competitions. The GAF conducts uniform competitions at its Grand and Regional Musters, and provides a key component of the criteria for competing for Iron Trooper at the annual Grand Muster. Participants are to be guided by the policies as set forth above.

    1. The categories will be established by the Muster coordinator and should, at a minimum, include Dress, Field, and Scout for the both men and women. At the Grand Muster these categories may be broken down further by either service (Army, Naval, etc) or time period (Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, etc) as determined by the Muster Coordinator.

    2. It is up to the individual to provide documentation if challenged by the uniform competition judges, particularly for anything that may be non-regulation. This can take the form of formal regulations, descriptions in letters, or images (photographs or drawings), etc. For those copying a Silver Screen uniform, an image will be sufficient. More leeway will be permitted women but they should be able to provide the basis for their inspiration.

    3. Competition for Iron Trooper. The Iron Trooper competition requires participants to shoot in the Battle Rifle categories while wearing a field uniform. Men's field uniforms are described in paragraph 11 and women's field uniform equivalents in paragraph 15. For the dress uniform competition, men's uniforms are defined in paragraph 10, and women's in paragraph 15d.