When thinking about a collar for your Civil War shirt, as I always say...look at original photographs. The collar/shirt combinations that you can use are endless.
Original photographs show shirts with collars that are different colors from the shirts or the same color as the shirt. I have seen and used high collars, low collars, rounded-edged collars and square-edged collars.
Some shirts had button on collars, and many shirts were collarless. ECHOES: ARMS AND EQUIPMENT OF THE CONFEDERACY shows seven shirts on pgs. 154-155, and each one has a different collar.
Pvt. John Burgwyn MacRae Starr's North Carolina is a dark blue wool collarless pullover shirt while the one below, Pvt. Andrew Thomas Beam, 28th South Carolina Volunteers' shirt is white cotton with a square edged collar made of the same color and material.
An imported shirt from England with only a slit in the front and a button to hold the two sides together appears on the same page. There does not appear to be a placket or a collar anywhere to be seen on this British shirt. Bri. Gen.David A. Weisiger's shirt is a pullover shirt made of a butternut color type material, which is also collarless.
Pvt. Peter S. Hyde's blue and white plaid shirt has a stand up collar of the same color while Pvt. M. Page Lapham's white cotton shirt has a turned-down collar with square edges. Finally, a shirt from a Confederate captured at Vicksburg was made from a black, gold, and red patterned tablecloth and is trimmed with a black, velvet turned-down square-edged collar.
Most Civil War shirts pull over the head. I have not seen many that are completely button down in the front. But, the plackets on Civil War shirts vary as much as the collars. A placket is the piece of the shirt, which contains two pieces of material - the back placket is where the buttons are sewn and the front placket is where the buttonholes are placed. The collar is usually attached to the top of the placket.
With plackets, without plackets, most shirts button down the front with a variety of buttons. Civil War soldiers wore fancy shirts with ruffles, plain shirts; wool shirts, shirts made from flour sacks and some shirts were made by tailors. The combination of pieces you can put on your Civil War Uniform Shirts is endless: collars, plackets, buttons, style, material, etc.
I take some liberty to combine the pieces I like as long as I have seen them in a museum or an original photo. What is in museums and original photos is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to styles of shirts worn during the Civil War Era.
For a course on Civil War uniforms which provides many more specific details, send an email to email@example.com
To see actual photos of reproduced shirts with a variety of collars, go to
Coach McCoach has been a Civil War reenactor in the 4th North Carolina Infantry, 2nd Virginia Regiment, and 21st Virginia Company B. Coach has received the "Authenticity Award" from these companies several times for his Civil War Uniform Impression. Coach's Civil War uniform designs have been seen in the movies GETTYSBURG, Antietam Visitors Center, ANDERSONVILLE.