CIVIL WAR EQUIPTMENT
I check my blog stats every day to see how many hits I get, and also it shows the qusetions people have used to be directed to my little site. First of all I wish to thank all of you who visit, and I have come to suppect I have a few regular visitors, and this makes me appreactive of you all. Also since the damn spell checker has quit functioning on this site, I apprecate your tollerance. That said, I have noticed a number of qurieries about Civil War equiptment. So will share a little of what I carried in my reenactment days.
As a Confederate Artilleryman I asembled my outfit slowly over a period of time with a mix of both north and south wear and equipment.
I started out with a artillery Kipi, the small leather visored cap with the sloping flat top. As I progressed on and eventually be came a Lieutenant I fially settled on a grey slouch hat, this is the felt hat with a 3 1/2 brim all around and with time it usually gets kinds floppy. I had a gold officers braid hat band and a felt emboderied patch showing crossed cannons. (this is one of the very few hats my wife liked me in).
For a long time I wore a pair of wide wale tan cordroy trowsers. I first aquired a late war grey shell jacket with the red atrillery trim on the collar and cuff’s. This is the short jacket that stops at the waist, it had a large pocket on the left inside. It had thirteen large CSA brass buttons down the front, and two small ones on each cuff. It was called late war because it was unlined, the earlier ones had a muslin lining, but as the war progressed and material became scarce the lining was eleminated. eventually I also got a grey wool vest with numerious small brass buttons down the front, it also had four small pockets on the face.
As the was progressed I was fourtunate enough to particapate in a raid where I secured for myself a pait of seargants calvary pants with the reenforced seat and a red stripe down the leg. From a battle field aqusition I also equiped myself with a pair of calvary boots that almost reach my knees. So I found my self nattlly dressed with my gold collar tabs denoting my rank.
As to hard equiptment I had a heavy leather belt with saber hanger and sholder strap to help support the weight of all the junk I had suppended from it. There was the artillery sword, a useless peice of weaponery as I have ever seen. I cannot fathom any use for the damn thing other than waving the air to give commands with. It is as long as a calvry saber but the blade is so rediclously curved as to be usless. To make a thrust with it, the blade is pointed off out of line with the forarm so as to be usless. One blowhard once told me they were desined to rip out the guts of a horse as it leaped over the cannon!! Give me a break, a full sized cannon wheel was over five feet tall, and from muzzle to end of the trail the gun was eight feet long. With five men at station who in their right mind would try a jump like that. Actually I eventually got hold of a calvary saber instead, the point lines up with the wrist for a thrust.
But like many confederates I carried two pistols, a Colt Army Model and a Remington new Army both in .44 Cal., both precussion of course. Both are excelent weapons. In actuality artillerymen were not offically issued weapons, their weapon was the big gun. However many did arm theirselves from battle feild pickups. The thing about weapons is they have to be carried around with you on the march. Speaking of which, in the movies you see the gun crews riding around on the cannon limbers all the time. Not s, gun crews mostly walked, because their extra weight on the guns was added weight for the horses to pull. In the so called flying artillery, as with Jeb Stewart and Nathon Bedford Forest, and such, the gun crews were mounted. But ordinary artillerymen were on foot. If they were lucky they might get one of the artillery riders to carry their personal gear on a off horse for them. But then if you got seperated from your gun or the horses were disabled you probably lost your gear.
But I am wandering away from the subject of my gear. Lets see I have covered the sword and pistols, ah yes ammo for the pistols I had a brass flask for my powder (black of course) It despensed 27 grains of powder in to the funnel for a charge for a cylinder. I also had a small leather poutch for my .44 cal soft lead balls. Then on the front of my belt I had a small leather poutch lined with sheep skin in which I kept my primer caps. The sheepknin cushioned the caps and also kept them from falling out. (at this point I might add I made all my own holsters, poutches and belts and hangers, as it is one of my hobbies, leather work).
As I had started out a a enlisted man I also had a haversack made of canvas with a large flap to close it. It had a strap made of a webbing material made of striped pilow ticking. In my haversack I carried my personal possesions. I had a tin plate and a old yellowed handeled knife and fork (three tined), also wrapped in the old bandanna with the eatery set was my old straight razor. wrapped in waxed newspaper was a bar of lye soap (it didn’t lather worth a damn but it would scower you clean if you rubbed hard enough. I had a soldiers wife, a small folding cloth with ties that contained a needle, thimble, a leather awl, a few buttons and a varity of threads wrapped around a small leather scrap. I also had a toothbrush made of bone with pig bristells, (lord talk about hard to use was to make your gums bleed). If I had them spare socks and any thing else I could get my hands on and carry.
I preferd Jerky when available, because no matter how well you wrapped it, fatback would leak and make everything else greasy and went rancid on a hot day fast. Then there was the every loved hardtack. Hardtack ,a cracker made of flower and water and baked hard ad a brick. I have some more than ten years old still hard as a brick and could be eaten if necessary. Often when issued it had gotten mosit and was infested with weevels and larva. the men ate it anyway or starved and simply considered what vermin they could not get out as extra proten. They tried frying it greese when availible or boiling it to soften it up in a mush like manner, none of which was too apatizing. My wife has a friend whose husband has a little family history on a ancestor who served during the Civil War, who worked in the commasery (another unsung hero, we never think about in our prusit of the war), who was wounded while delevering hardtack. Once again I have deveated from the equiptment.
I also have a 1863 Springfield rifled musket in .577 cal. This is most often refered to as the Zoave rifle as it was first issued to the New York Fire Zoave’s, a regement made up of New York firemen. They were originally outfitted with short red trimmed jackets, and bright red pantaloons with white garters. and topped with a red fez with a gold tassel. Copied from French Legioners uniforms. The south also had a regement from New Orleans dressed much the same way, except their pantalons were whit and blue stripped, and were issued a flat crowned wide brimed straw hat. They were made up of New Orleand convicts and prisoners. Anyway back to the rifle it was ten inches shorter than the earlier Springfield and only had two brass barrel bands as opposed to the three on the older rifle. It was the one with the saber bayonet which I also have. The ammo was carried in a black ammo box which had a wide belt the passed over the left sholder and hung at the right side, at the waist. It held forty rounds of cartrages. Inside the pouch was two tin ammo holders. Each tin had a top and bottom , and held ten cartrages in each side when one side was emptied you removed the tin and turned it upside down to reach the next ten cartrages. These cartrages were paper wrapped around a lead bullet with powder poured in the back and folded shut. To load the gun you removed a cartrage and bit the end off and dumped the powder down the barrel of the rifle and then rammed the bullet, paper and all down on top of the powder. The hammer was then cocked and a cap plaved on the nipple and then the gun was ready to fire. A trained man could load and fire three time in a minute in this manner.
Battle feild finds have revealed as many as ten charges in a rifle where a excited man kept loading and forgot to cap the gun and loaded again. Now you might ask what happned to all the guns dropped on a battle field? And that is a good question. Both armies (actually all armys) had a ordanance dept. The ordanance dept. is in charge of all ordnance’s, not just ammo and explosieves. Just before my old and best friend retired and moved to Washington , we premoted him to ordanance seargent, three inverted stripes with a star in the middle of the v. It would have been his duty after a battel to have dispached a command on to the feild to pick up all ordanance and return it to the rear where it would have been sorted into groups of reusable equiptment, repairable and unservicable, each being routed to the right destination. Ammunition would be reisued as needed.
As you probably know I have been writtting about the old west for the last several months, when I tire of that and can not think of anything curent to dwell on, maybe I’ll get started on some of rhw Civil War battles I have a great interst in.
Until next time