Reference Items
Accoutrements
CSA Wooden Drum Canteen

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During the course of the Civil War, countless canteens were manufactured in the South.  Every Confederate soldier carried a canteen and likely went through more than one during his time of service.  To satisfy this need, some canteens were manufactured at Southern facilities but the Confederate government could produce only a fraction of those required to supply the army.  In order to meet the excess demand the Confederacy purchased most of their canteens from private shops, the most common of which were local barrel coopers.  These coopers employed techniques and materials already in use for barrel making but on a smaller scale to produce wooden canteens.

The canteen shown here is the classic Confederate wood drum canteen, with the distinction of being totally complete with sling, spout, and original wooden stopper.  The canteen is 7⅜” X 2⅜” and is bound by riveted iron hoops which fasten twelve individual slats forming the sides.  It has three tin sling guides.  Both faces of the canteen are slightly domed and show faint lathe tooling marks.  Carved on one face are simple initials "TFB” in ⅝” high capital letters. 

The cotton woven sling is almost certainly original to the canteen.  It is of Confederate manufacture and remains in very strong condition, being one continuous strap that is lap-stitched together near its top.  There is no adjustment buckle.  The strap stands 22½” above the top of the canteen when suspended and is ⅞” wide.

The round wooden stopper is beveled flat at its top with a suspension hole.  The original attachment device would likely have been a small leather tong.  


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-306

Gunner's Haversack

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Pictured is one of the implements utilized by U.S. artillery gun crews during the Civil War, a Union gunner's haversack in very fine original condition. With the field piece in battery, such a haversack would be used by the No. #4 cannoneer to carry live ordnance between the limber chest and the piece on the line.

The body and shoulder sling of this haversack are constructed of thick non-dyed bridle leather.  The front and back of the pouch are connected by gussets that form the ends and bottom, allowing the haversack to be folded flat when not in use. The large front leather flap and the back of the haversack are all a single piece of leather.  It folds over and down at the front and is fastened by a leather closing strap with buckle and clasp still strongly attached.  The pouch itself measures 12⅝" wide by 13" tall and is 2" deep.  All leather is smooth and robust, it’s stitching tight. The leather body has acquired a sable patina with no evidence of cracking or crazing

The bottom edge of the outer flap has a pleasing scallop design with a tooled border. Centered on the inner front leather body is a fine and clear maker's stamp of "U.S. WATERVLIET ARSENAL” in three lines.   The shoulder sling is 47" long by 1½" wide, and is complete with a large brass roller buckle and clasp.  It’s tooled border matches the front flap of the pouch. The sling is strong and shows no surface cracking or crazing.

For comparison, a matching haversack is pictured in the Field Artillery section, pg. 303, of the reference work Echoes of Glory – Arms & Equipment of the Union by Time Life Books.


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-304

General Officer's Dress Belt

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This officer’s dress belt is ornamented with three rows of gold bullion embroidery on Russian leather as prescribed for general officers. Each dead bullion row is ¼" wide with a space of 3/16”.  The overall width of the belt is 1¾” and its length is 38½” from plate to keeper. At the buckle is a leather keeper with a single ¼” bullion strand.  The saber straps are 24¼" and 10¼” long respectively; both also have three rows of bullion embroidery.  However, the bullion on the straps is 3/16” wide and separated by ⅛”.  The brass clasps and buckles on both straps are functional and original, with the straps reinforced with a leather support and four rows of stitching.   The straps are designed so that the tongue of the strap shields the leather holder from view.  

 The right-handed cast brass plate is gilded and of the 1851 Pattern similar to plate #645 in the reference work American Military Belt Plates by O’Donnell & Campbell.  It is of the finest workmanship.  The integral motif is a right facing eagle with standard shield bearing vertical and horizontal lines.  Its lengthy wings reach almost to the border of the plate frame. The laurel wreath extends above its wingtips.  Eight stars rest above the banner with an additional three at the eagle’s left shoulder and two at its right.  Rays extend above the stars but are not present on the sides of the wreath and there are no clouds present.  The background of the plate is stippled in fine detail. The wreath below the eagle’s wingtips, each of the stars, and the face of the text "E Pluribus Unum” in the banner are all highlighted with German silver.  The high points on the eagle’s wings, head and knees show slight wear. The belt plate tongue is applied and both the plate and keeper are benchmarked "14.”

The belt was originally purchased from the family of General Isaac Sheppard who served on the staff of General Lyon at the time he was killed at Wilson’s Creek.  Sheppard went on to command the 3rd Missouri Infantry in 1862 and the 51st U. S. Colored Infantry in May 1863.  He survived the war and did foreign service for the U.S. government, eventually settling in Massachusetts.  The belt is a companion to another General Officer’s belt, collection item #065 which was also purchased from Sheppard’s family.


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-302

Stuart Saber Hanger

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Pictured is a rather uncommon accoutrement known as a Stuart saber hanger.  J.E.B. Stuart, while serving as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, won a patent (#25,684 filed on October 4, 1859) for an improved sword hanger which he designed while recuperating from wounds received during a fight with the Cheyenne at Solomon River, Kansas on July 29, 1857.

The detachable saber hanger is suspended from a standard belt, and enables a cavalry trooper or officer to easily remove his sword, scabbard, and belt slings without unhooking the scabbard from his belt assembly and leaving the straps swinging loose at his side. Stuart applied for a contract with the US Army and was paid $5,000 by the Federal government for a "right to use" license.  The US Army authorized manufacture of the device with Frankford Arsenal producing 10,000 in 1864.  Each bears a Frankford Arsenal stamp on the keeper and an Ordnance Department Inspector A. D. Laidley’s stamp on the belt strap. A variant was produced after the war with the Rock Island Arsenal stamp and a shorter brass tongue on the keeper.  Wartime examples of the earlier style brass keepers have been dug in Tennessee.


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-299

General Officer's Fatigue Belt

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This officer’s field belt is ornamented with three rows of embossed gold trim on Russian leather as prescribed for fatigue use by general officers. Top and bottom decorative rows are 3/16” wide and the center design is ¼" wide.  The overall width of the belt is 1⅝” and its length is 41” from plate to keeper, but with size adjuster in place, it is set at a length of 35”.  It is sewn with a center seam at the back over a webbed reinforcing.  There are two leather keepers also trimmed with gold borders.  The saber straps are 23¼" and 9” long respectively, the longer strap having an old repair near the top.  The brass clasps and buckles on both straps are functional and original, with the straps attaching to the belt through a brass loop.  There are some slight separations in the belt body and at the protective tab behind the plate, but the web reinforcing to which the belt is sewn is strong and intact.

The right-handed cast brass plate is gilded and of a pattern similar to the 1851 Plate #645 in the reference work American Military Belt Plates by O’Donnell & Campbell.  It is of very fine workmanship.  The integral motif is a right facing eagle with standard shield bearing vertical and horizontal lines.  The eagle's lengthy wings reach almost to the border of the plate frame. The laurel wreath extends above its wingtips.  Eight stars rest near the banner among clouds, an additional three are at the eagle’s left shoulder and two at its right.  Rays extend above the stars but are not present on the sides of the wreath.  The background of the plate is stippled in fine detail.  The high points on the eagle’s wings show no wear. The belt plate tongue is applied and neither the plate nor keeper is benchmarked.

The belt was originally purchased from the family of General Isaac Sheppard who served on the staff of General Lyon at the time he was killed at Wilson’s Creek.  Sheppard went on to command the 3rd Missouri Infantry in 1862 and the 51st U. S. Colored Infantry in May 1863.  He survived the war and did foreign service for the U.S. government, eventually settling in Massachusetts.  


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-294

Confederate "Rope Border" Plate and Belt

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The Confederate enlistedman’s belt pictured here bears what is known by collectors as a "rope border” plate, receiving its name due to the twisted rope design encircling its inner border.  Likely manufactured in Nashville, Tennessee, the letters "CS” were die stamped onto a thin sheet of brass without use of a counter die, and then three brass hooks were soldered to the back with no lead filling.  The crude hooks which vary from one plate to another are created from excess brass.  This style of plate was issued primarily to Confederate infantrymen serving in the Western theater.

The faces of rope border plates bear block letters in two known patterns, indicating the use of at least two dies at the place of manufacture.  On this pattern, the letters show increased thickness and the inside square serifs on the "S” nearly touch the body of the letter.  The "S” is slightly crooked in its alignment.

Rope border plates are rarely encountered in non-excavated condition.  When seen, they often have been mounted on a Yankee belt, either during their wartime use or by a modern collector.  This plate is on its original russet leather belt.  The leather has a fine line tooled into its upper and lower borders, a characteristic which is never found on Yankee enlistedmen’s examples.  Unlike its Federal counterpart, the leather was never coated and still retains its original russet finish.  The right handed plate has a natural untouched patina and over time has created an outline on the belt, leaving what is termed as a "ghost” of the belt plate.  This indicates long and constant contact between the plate and belt. The initials "VMW” are carved into the belt at the left of the buckle, the owner’s identity having long since been lost to history.  There is also an unusual incision entirely through the leather between the third and fourth holes, yet the leather remains intact and is strong and supple.


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-289

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