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CONFEDERATE EQUIPAGE

A GUIDE FOR REENACTORS


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A FEW WORDS ABOUT BUTTONS


WOOD BUTTONS Seems so.

Recently information has become available that indicates wooden buttons may have been more common on RD issued jackets and trousers than previously thought. The evidence is compiled by viewing surviving images of Confederate Soldiers in uniform showing the use of wooden buttons. This subject may have been overlooked in the past since wood buttons have rotted away and no dug specimens were available. There is an excellent thread on this subject at the Authentic Campaigner web site.http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?24536-Wooden-Buttons-on-Type-IIs .


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BLOCK    I    BUTTONS:   There were a wide variety of locally made Confederate buttons. There were differences in face dies, material of construction, size, finish, shank type, and back dies. The block I button was the most commonly confederate manufactured button used for enlisted uniforms. Here are three locally manufactured, dug Block I buttons and what I feel is an average reproduction.  The button on  the left has a plain brass back and was dug from a Confederate trench on the Howlett Line.  The reproduction is the shiny button.  These reproductions are sold by a variety of sutlers.   The thing to look for is the correct size and style I. The block I to the right of the reproduction is a brass back Richmond marked I.  The button on the far right is a rusted tin back block I. Both of these are from Petersburg.  Tin backed block I and A buttons are found much more frequently than the brass backed block buttons, especially in mid to late war sites.  I suspect that all the dug I buttons shown above were issued by the Richmond Depot.  Buttons issued by other depots may have some slight differences.

emlewis.jpg (46076 bytes)Block I button with missing shank and brass back. This button was sold by EM Lewis of Richmond Va. and is so marked. Back marks of this style block I will vary. Some will have "E M Lewis", others will have only "Richmond" and some will have the sellers name. Early in the war, clothing manufactures would order these buttons made with their companies name imprinted as the backmark.

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Shown to right are two non-dug Confederate issue buttons.

The I button is commonly called the Tennessee Puff I. This is a very commonly found style of block I button found in Western theater of operations. Quite a few of these are also found in the Richmond/Petersburg area. It has a plain tin back and appears to have a high copper content in the brass. The hook is tin plated. These would tend to rust through the button thread causing many of these buttons to be lost and found by present day relic hunters.

The block A is another style commonly found in mid to late war sites. It has a tin back, brass hook and may have come on a jacket issued from the Richmond depot. Most of the mid to late war block I buttons also have the same type of tin back.


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Shown left are two solid cast brass I buttons, the Civil War's smallest pocket knife and a kepi size lined A button. The solid cast block I buttons are thought to have come from the Rome GA vicinity. They are the same size as a standard tin backed block I. I have been told by Georgia relic hunters that cast block I buttons are the most common block I button found in that area. All those shown here were found in Petersburg.

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Shown at right are one of Ben Tart's Waterbury backmarked Script I buttons and a original Script I dug at Petersburg. IMO the Waterbury backmarked Script I button is the most accurate reproduction of this type button currently available.

 

 

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There are so many questions about P. Tait jacket buttons. Tait did not manufacture buttons although the Tait backmark does appear on some of the buttons supplied with Tait jackets. He bought his buttons from several English vendors and they have various backmarks. Here is a block A button with the P.Tait*Limerick* back mark which indicate that it most likely came on the Tait jackets. Notice the wear on the A. It originally had a lined field but is worn off. Also notice the "floating shank". This is indicative of Tait buttons.

 

 

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Pewter I button found in a confederate Trench in Petersburg. Pewter I buttons are not common although they are found in limited numbers in the East and West. They are approximately the same size as a standard two piece brass block I. As you can see they are prone to ground action.

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CONFEDERATE USE OF EAGLE BUTTONS ??

Numbers of surviving CS jackets have eagle buttons attached. Using these examples as a basis for Confederate use of eagle buttons is not 100% accurate. Many changes can be made to a garmet in 150 + years. A better way to verify the period use of eagle buttons on Confederate jackets is by looking at period photographs. A survey of Library of Congress photographs of Confederate dead at Alsop Farm and Petersburg revealed the following: .

Two killed Confederates are visible in the three Alsop Farm images. They are clothed with similar uniforms and enlargement of the images reveal that both of their jackets use eagle buttons.

A deceased Confederate soldier on a firing step around Ft. Mahone is shown in two seperate views. In one view the type of buttons on his jacket can be determined and they are eagle buttons (image shown below). There are only two other subjects shown in the series of Petersburg photos that are positioned with their buttons showing. One has a Peter Tait jacket with the buttons removed by cutting and the other subject's buttons are not shown in enough detail to determine their type.

 

On my 9th Va. page there is a picture of William Brittingham in a RD type II jacket. Close examination of the original image shows that his jacket is buttoned up using eagle buttons. The date of the image is not known.

Some of the Gettysburg CS dead also have eagle buttons on their uniforms as well as wooden buttons. Eagle buttons are also routinely recovered from CS camps.

It seems that based on the information above that eagle buttons were routinely used by the CS quartermaster and probably much more frequently than is currently thought or representated by the reenacting community. It is also interesting to note that most of the jackets shown in the Petersburg death photos where the type of jacket can be identified, are type II and not type III.


ACCOUTREMENTS

Defined as the equipment required to support the soldiers weapon.

Below will be some examples of two of these items, the Cap Box and Cartridge Box.


CAP BOXES

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Above are three Confederate manfactured cap boxes. The far left box was picked up on the Battlefield of Gettysburg. It has a button type finial and two belt loops. The center box has a wooden finial and two belt loops. The box on the right has a small brass finial and a single belt loop.

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Another Confederate Cap box which appeared on e-bay.

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Front and back of two, button finial cap boxes. Notice the field repair on the right box belt loop. Boxes courtesy of John Bradley

Unmarked William Brands & Co. painted canvas cap box. The flap is very stiff on this box almost like there is cardboard under the fabric. Finial is brass. Courtesy of Micheal Kramer.


CARTRIDGE BOXES

William Brands & Co. painted canvas cartridge box. Finial is lead. Courtesy of Micheal Kramer.


 

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IMPORTED ENFIELD CARTRIDGE BOX

This box is out of South Eastern Virginia and has family history to the 41st Va. Inf. Oral history has the soldier coming home to recover from wounds and later returning to duty. Evidently he came home with some of his gear since he left this pouch at home when he returned to duty.

The tin is one piece and was designed to hold five packs of Enfield cartridges. In the English system a package of cartridges would be removed, broken open and the individual rounds moved to an expense pouch (also called ball bag) attached to the waist belt and on the front of the soldier. The latch tab has been notched as is the norm for these boxes to facillitate unfastening the flap. The shoulder strap is MIA.


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CONFEDERATE STAFF OFFICERS DISPATCH POUCH

This dispatch pouch is identified to a staff officer in the ANV. It would have been used to carry orders or other inportant documents. The flap measures 10.5 " by 5 " and the overall size of the pouch is 9" by 11". The inside of the flap is stamped J&J 1861. The strap buckle is brass.


IDENTIFIED NORTH CAROLINA CARTRIDGE BOX

The below box was picked up at the Rail Road cut at Gettysburg and hung in a GAR hall for many years. The shoulder straps were cut off and used for hanging the box. Courtesy of Micheal Kramer.

Cut into the flap of the box is J L Barnes Co A 32 Ncv REgt

Bottom and open view. The finial is lead and the strap buckles are wire.


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Double roller belt, cap box and cartridge box. Confederate to the core. Notice the lead finials.


nckepi.jpg (31807 bytes)NORTH CAROLINA KEPI: The crown of the cap has a silver bullion "Bugle" infantry insignia with a North Carolina state seal button mounted on its center (most likely owner supplied and installed). The chin strap buttons are small U.S. Staff. The lining is a calico material and the cap band is Cadet Gray. This cap demonstrates the same fading to its present color as do many jean canteen covers.

 

 

 

 


confkepi.jpg (20277 bytes)KEPI CHIN STRAP BUTTON: While we are talking about block letter buttons and kepis, I would like to show you another item. I don't know if this was an officers cap or enlisted. Shown is a small size LINED I button.  These buttons were imported from England.  In addition to the Lined I shown on this kepi, I have seen them in Lined A and Script I.  The lined I shown on this button is the correct style for I for coat and vest size buttons also. Notice the lined field in the I. This is what is lacking on the modern reproductions of this style I. Field recoveries of these small kepi buttons are somewhat rare but they are found. Coat and vest buttons of this style are found more often but are still scarcer than the Script I and of course the ever popular block I.

 

 

 

stbk2.jpg (76992 bytes)Shown at right is a reproduction Richmond Depot kepi in Ben Tarts #5 jean. It has the small script I button for the chin strap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reproduction of the Crews Kepi which is shown in Echos of Glory. Cap is made of Tarts 5J. Notice the civilian button used for the chin strap which is made of twill tape and non-functional. This cap has a plain leather visor.


This original North Carolina cap is identified to W.A. Thompson of Company A, 27th NC Inf.

Notice the unusual strap button.


 

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Shown left is a Virginia Militia Frock coat with what appears to be white webbing or white buff leather accoutermant straps. White webbing was very common for early war use in the Confederacy. Large numbers of the clip corner brass militia type buckles have been recovered in early war camps and battlefields up to the early1863 period. This coat was one of the items auctioned off from the John Bracken collection.

 

 

 

 


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