Marie-Tepe-Featured-ImageIncluded below are images and notes I used as reference when sculpting the Marie Tepe relief Figure. Please refer to the annotations about variations of uniform colour and non-regulation equipment.

The sculpture was based on a tin type photograph taken in the studio of R.W. Addis (Washington DC) date: circa 1865, I believe it to be an image taken on the day of the Grand Review of the Armies in DC on the May 23rd. Although the image is not date stamped I have good reason to believe this correct and will reveal the reason why later in this post.


From top to bottom…

The bonnet.

Throughout the war Marie sported a straw bonnet, I have seen many versions of this in photographs/paintings and I believe that she may simply have replaced the hats through ware and tare; because a lot of Marie’s uniform was of non-standard issue referencing similar items from that time period have given me a good guide what the colours may have been.

Bonnet 1In many references Tepe is shown wearing a natural straw bonnet (yellow) however some written accounts of her appearance suggest she wore a sailors straw hat (which often is dyed black ). Refering to the image that the sculpt was taken from I would say that the bonnet was black straw, with a black silk ribbon and black ostrich feather plumes. Some illustrations show a light blue ribbonBonnet 6 (similar to the zouave cummerbund) if you wish to use this colour variation, I’m sure it will not compromise the accuracy  of the subject. More images below (the sailors hat is just for colour reference).


Hair, eyes and hair ribbons

Marie was of Turkish/French decent looking at the tone of the image, its a good guess that she had brown eyes and dark hair, the hair ribbons possibly black, but any any dark colour would suffice.


The Collis Zouaves typically wore a union dark blue shirt, but as the war rolled on and the original supplies dwindled, different colours and patterns appeared. I’ve seen them in white, red, black and even checked shirts! In this instance it appears that she wearing a black shirt.

Zouave Jacket

zucoatUSM-13.1Marie wears a standard zouave jacket, dark union blue with red piping and light blue cuffs, she has however embellished the jacket with extra brass buttons. On her chest she wears the Kearny Cross, with a smaller dress medal of the same award just above it.




Belt BuckleThe cummerbund is light blue. Over the top of this is strapped a Remington .44 caliber army revolver in a black leather holster on a black leather belt. The buckle is the square union version and in brass.


The Water/Whiskey Keg

An french example of a vivandiere keg, not an actual Tepe artifact.

An french example of a vivandiere keg, not an actual Tepe artifact.

In historical articles from the time the keg was described as being painted red,white and blue, in what order these colours are in I can find no evidence. The metal bands are black and the tap brass (as are the fittings). The belt the keg hangs from I’m guessing is brown leather (matching the tone of the holster against it).


The Skirt


Maire Tepe reenactor.

In fine Vivandiere style the skirt is dark union blue with a red band just above the hem.

The Trousers (Pants)

The original colour of these trousers matched the regiments colour scheme – red, however in the photograph they do not match the tone of the skirt band, I believe them to be dark blue, which is strange as the union army wore light blue trousers (pants)? Upon further research I discovered that the Union Army surgeons wore dark blue trousers, its highly likely that Marie acquired these pants as she worked in field hospitals on and off during the conflict. When you come to paint this figure red or dark blue will be perfectly acceptable.



Possibly cavalry boots, but more likely civilian black boots.

And lastly…

The reason I believe the original photo to be dated for the May 23rd 1865 is simple, Marie Tepe left her first husband (Bernhard Tepe) in 1862 over a theft of money and later divorced him, it was an acrimonious separation and it is highly unlikely that she would have kept wearing the wedding ring. In August 1864 she met and married  Corporal Richard Leonard and left the army before the end of the war to settle in Baldwin Township. Now – with this information on board, take a look at a closeup look of the image and you will see a clue on her left hand that sparked my reasoning?…

Wedding Ring

…In the few photographs of her that are available none of them show the wedding ring?  Its a guess, but the clues point towards Marie donning her uniform once again so that she could participate in  Grand Review of the Armies in Washington DC May 1865.  It would also explain why she is wearing a lot of black items in her clothing (a mark of respect for the fallen?). It would be great think that she joined Zouave Brigade of the Army of the Potomac’s V Corps for one last outing and marched in that dazzling display of colour to cheers of the crowd!

…the Wedding Band

Its included on the sculpt – colour – gold 🙂