A volunteer marching off to the Civil War might don the blue uniform of the Union, or the grey of the Rebs, or he just might be in bright red pantaloons with a tasseled fez on his head. Before the war tales of the North African fighters, called Zouaves, inspired imitation by American militias. When war came, as many as 100 volunteer units on both sides of the conflict donned the distinctive gear. What set them apart was not just appearance, but also their light infantry drill.
Zouave units were so renowned for bravery that wearing the uniform became a reward.