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Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia: Arms, Uniforms and Equipment of the Union and Confederacy

Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia: Arms, Uniforms and Equipment of the Union and Confederacy

by Francis A. Lord

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This comprehensive reference will be invaluable to anyone requiring accurate data on the Civil War period. Indispensable for identifying, describing, and understanding the use of more than 800 items, the text is arranged alphabetically by topic, with subjects ranging from artillery accouterments, heavy cannon, boats, and barracks equipment to bridge materials, a


This comprehensive reference will be invaluable to anyone requiring accurate data on the Civil War period. Indispensable for identifying, describing, and understanding the use of more than 800 items, the text is arranged alphabetically by topic, with subjects ranging from artillery accouterments, heavy cannon, boats, and barracks equipment to bridge materials, a charcoal water filter, brass name stencils (to label personal equipment), and an enormous variety of weapons. Material is cross-referenced for quick location of individual entries. "Everything an interested reader would want to know . . . A must-have book." — Antiques & Auction News. Over 350 rare illustrations.

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Dover Publications
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Civil War
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Arms, Uniforms and Equipment of the Union and Confederacy


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2004 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-31759-5


ACCOUTERMENTS. This term includes items of equipment, other than weapons and clothing, carried by the soldier, sailor, or Marine. (In the Civil War the common spelling was "accoutrements.") Generally the term applied to the articles carried on or by the belt, and included the belt, cartridge box, cap box, and bayonet scabbard. Accouterments differed for the three combat branches of the Army—infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Details are given under appropriate headings. The canteen, haversack, and knapsack were usually excluded from the term "accouterments." For component items see: Belt, Cartridge-Box; Belt, Waist; Belt, Sword, Shoulder; Box,

Cap; Box, Cartridge; Scabbard, Bayonet; Sling, Cartridge-Box; and Sling, Gun.

ACCOUTERMENTS, ARTILLERY. (See also ARTILLERY). For items common to all arms, see ACCOUTERMENTS, INFANTRY. Artillery accouterments were much more varied than in either the infantry or cavalry since artillerymen had to carry special items for servicing their cannon. Most artillerymen wore a leather waist belt on which were carried a short sword or artillery saber, pistol and holster, cap box, and a fuze pouch. An artilleryman also carried a pendulum hausse and wore a gunner's haversack over his shoulder.

ACCOUTERMENTS, CAVALRY. Cavalry accouterments consisted of two belts and the articles (excluding weapons) attached to them. To the waist belt (saber belt) was attached a cartridge box for carbine ammunition, a pistol box for revolver ammunition, and a cap box; also the saber in its scabbard and the revolver in its holster. To the carbine sling (or belt) was attached, by a swivel, the carbine.

Cartridge Box. Some cavalry used the Blakeslee Cartridge Box (Patent No. 45,469), patented December 20, 1864, by Erastus Blakeslee, Plymouth, Conn. This box contained one or more removable tubes filled with fixed ammunition, by which a magazine arm like Spencer's could be replenished or the cartridges could be gotten out singly. A side pouch was attached for other ammunition.

Mann's Accouterments. These were designed to replace the earlier cavalry accouterments, but only came into limited use late in the war. This new equipment combined the cartridge box, pistol box, and cap box in one unit, and enabled the trooper to carry more than double the amount of ammunition held by the old boxes. It transferred, by two broad belts, the weight from the man's waist to his shoulders. Unfortunately this improved type of equipment was never generally adopted; therefore many cavalrymen, using the old equipment, suffered rupture, hemorrhoids, weak back, and diarrhea from the weight of the ammunition and heavy arms attached to the waist.

Confederate belt and buckle. Imported through the blockade. (Drawing by Mike McAfee)

ACCOUTERMENTS, CONFEDERATE. Since the Confederacy was short of leather it was necessary to import leather equipments and also to find substitute material. One of the substitutes was prepared cotton cloth, stitched together in three or four thicknessess. Instead of brass, lead and wood were used. (See Confederate Makers)

Belts. Two types of Confederate belts are illustrated, one of them being imported from England.

Cap Box. Confederate cap boxes are very rare, especially those marked CS, like that shown in the accompanying photograph. Made similar to the U.S. cap box, it shows high-quality craftsmanship, may possibly have been manufactured in England but more likely was made in the South. Has an impressed CS in an oval cartouche. Cap boxes of this type are susceptible of being forged, but such fakes are easily distinguishable. Note the squarish appearance of the flap on the authentic one illustrated. Almost identical to the US type, but has a different design bearing the CS.

Cartridge Box. Many cartridge boxes used by Confederates were imported from England as part of the equipments used with Enfield muskets and rifles. Shown here is such a box. There is also illustrated an original Confederate- manufactured pouch for infantry, with the original cross shoulder strap. It has generally the same proportions as the U.S. issue but the leather is of different quality and it is extremely rough on the inside. The outside is smooth black leather with the original impressed oval design CS. The letters themselves are impressed in the leather as differentiated from the U.S. model, in which the U.S. seems to stand out slightly. This Confederate box also has a lead fastening button. The original wide-stitched, black waterproofed-linen cross shoulder-strap is still affixed. It shows a spot where once there was a circular plate, now missing.

ACCOUTERMENTS, INFANTRY. Consisted of a cartridge-box belt, to which were attached the following; cartridge-box sling, cartridge box, cap box, bayonet scabbard, and canteen (not an accouterment). Sergeants and musicians wore a waist belt. Noncommissioned officers wore a sword shoulder belt.

Bayonet Scabbard. There were two infantry bayonet scabbards:

Emerson Bayonet Scabbard (Patent No. 36,209). Patented August 19, 1862 by J. E. Emerson, Trenton, N. J. "As a new article of manufacture (Emerson patented) an angular bayonet scabbard, constructed of steel."

Gaylord Bayonet Scabbard (Patent No. 28,269). Patented May, 1860 by Emerson Gaylord, Chicopee, Mass.

Cap Box. Four types of containers or holders for percussion caps were in use by the infantry:

Harvey Cap Box (Patent No. 43,497). Patented July 12, 1864 by Thomas Harvey, Baltimore, Md. This cap box involved the use of an annular cap holder freely movable within a circular or cylindrical case, with teeth on its interior surface, thus permitting the caps to come in succession opposite the ejection opening in the case.

Lamb Cap Box (Patent No. 40,487). Patented November 3, 1863 by Thomas Lamb, Hamilton, Mich. A "cap holder," consisting of two notched revolving plates joined at their centers, with the portions of plate between the notches being flexible and forming studs on which the caps were placed.

Pickett Percussion Cap Holder (Patent No. 47,127). Patented April 4, 1865 by Rufus S. Pickett, New Haven, Conn. The caps were arranged in a row around the interior of an oblong box upon an endless belt extended between a small pulley and a ratchet wheel. The ratchet wheel was revolved by means of a thumb dog passing through the back of the box, so as to drive forward one cap at every movement of the dog.

Warren Cap Box (Patent No. 41,655). Patented February 16,1864 by J. T. Warren, Stafford, N. Y. This invention involved a spirally revolving disc within a case operated by a small lever, which by a ratchet movement brought the percussion caps in succession opposite an opening where, by means of a spring, a cap was thrown out into a cup-shaped mouth so as to enable it to be readily seized by the hand of the soldier.

Cartridge Box. Eleven different types of patented cartridge boxes were in use by the infantry, as follows:

Bennett Cartridge Box (Patent No. 37,485). Patented January 27, 1863 by Augustus A. Bennett, Cincinnati, Ohio. The cover opened automatically through the use of one or more springs "suitably located."

Bush Cartridge Box (Patent No. 37,216). Patented December 23, 1862 by Francis Bush, Boston, Mass. A metallic box containing the cartridges was placed in the cartridge box. The box was open at the top only, thus providing the box with one or more sliding boxes resting on the bottom of the main box.

Domis Cartridge Box (Patent No. 34,820). Patented April 1, 1862 by Adam Domis, New York, N. Y. This cartridge box had a cylindrical revolving case provided with a series of chambers to receive cartridges, and equipped with a spring strap enabling the soldier to stop the revolving case at the desired interval.

Hirschhuhl Cartridge Box. (Patent No. 34,423). Patented February 18, 1862 by J. J. Hirschbuhl, Louisville, Ky. Compartments were arranged within an outer case for carrying the different articles of ammunition, including a compartment for a powder flask. Separate boxes were attached to one side by hinges, opening outwards to hold bullets, percussion caps, and balls.

Nonregulation or Militia Cartridge Boxes (see Militia Equipments).

Pease Cartridge Box (Patent No. 50,730). Patented October 31, 1865 by John Pease, Boston, Mass. In this invention, the cartridge box was provided with a compartment at the bottom, opening at the sides and covered by protecting flaps for the purpose of conveniently holding bullet patches, swabs, or cloths, oil bottle, etc.; and also with a cap pouch in front.

Smith Cartridge Box (Patent No. 31,680). Patented March 12, 1861 by J. S. Smith, Brooklyn, N. Y. The case of the cartridge box was constructed in a series of two vertical tubes of sufficient height to receive two cartridges, one on top of the other.

Warren Cartridge Box (Patent No. 43,373). Patented June 28, 1864 by J. T. Warren, Stafford, N. Y. The inner tin cartridge box had two compartments, one above the other, each being subdivided. When the upper part was emptied, the case could be rotated or turned upside down by means of two pivots on the leather box and two slots by the tin case, without detaching it from the leather box.

Warren and Chesebrough Cartridge Box (Patent No 44,999). Patented November 8, 1864 by J. T. Warren, Stafford, N.Y., and R. A. Chesebrough, New York, N.Y. A circular revolving box with a suitable circular case similar to those commonly employed for holding percussion caps, and provided with chambers for holding both cartridges and caps.

Weston Cartridge Box (Patent No. 43,539). Patented July 12, 1864 by Horace S. Weston, Akron, Ohio. This invention involved the arranging of a horizontal series of sharp blades at the back of the cartridge box. These blades actuated by a spring block, cut the paper ends of the cartridge rows.

White Cartridge Box (Patent No. 46,411). Patented February 14, 1865 by Martin V. B. White, Troy, N.Y. This cartridge box was narrow, elongated, and curved, adapted to the side of the soldier. The box was provided with an apron at its bottom, upon which the cartridges were placed standing in one or more rows. By means of a coiled spring the cartridges were constantly pulled forward, so as to always present one at the front opening of the box.

Wilson Cartridge Box. (Patent No. 26,402). Patented December 6, 1859 by John W. Wilson, Washington, D.C. Had a cartridge-box fastening composed of a hinged lever and spring. The spring served to hold the lever open or closed.

Mann's Accouterments (Patent No. 40,849). Patented December 8, 1863, by W. D. Mann, Detroit, Michigan, this improvement was made by slinging the accouterments so that the cartridge box was worn in front, thus acting as a counterbalance to the other accouterments.

Militia Equipments. Various state militia units had their own accouterments, usually nonregulation, and designed for dress affairs such as ceremonies and official social occasions.

Ninth New York Infantry (Hawkins' Zouaves) Equipments. Those shown in the drawing were used by Sergeant Samuel L. Malcolm, Company C, 9th New York Infantry. He enlisted May 4, 1861, and fought at Big Bethel, Roanoke Island, and Antietam. His uniform is shown in the section on uniforms and clothing.

Rifleman's Flask and Pouch. The U.S. Ordnance Regulations for 1834 provided for copper powder flasks and pouches for riflemen. Although these accouterments became obsolete in 1857 it is probable that some were used in the early part of the war. These accouterments were last mentioned in the 1850 Ordnance Manual but omitted in the 1861 edition.

Rifleman's Waist Belt for Sword Bayonet. The illustration shows the waist belt for riflemen armed either with the 1841 Mississippi Rifle or the Model 1855 Rifle. It has been definitely established that some of these belts were used in the field during the war, since the buckles have been found on Civil War battlefields.

ACCOUTERMENTS, U.S. MARINE CORPS. The following descriptions of Marine Corps accouterments are extracted from U.S.M.C. Regulations.

Belt. All enlisted men shall wear white waist belts of the French pattern, with the French clasp and knapsack sliding slings; the cartridge box to be attached to the belt by a frog, also sliding on the belt: Non-commissioned Officers wearing swords, as also Musicians, will wear their swords in a sliding frog.

Drum Sling. White webbing, provided with a brass drum-stick carriage.

Knapsack. Of cow-skin (black), and to be made and slung, according to pattern in the Quartermaster's Department, Headquarters.

Haversack. Of same material, size, and form, as those issued to the United States Army.

Canteen. Same as used in United States Army.

Musket Sling. The Musket Slings to be of black leather; muskets will not be put into the hands of troops without the slings.

The Knapsack, Haversack, Canteens, and Musket Slings will be served out on charge, and receipted for by an officer, as are arms and other equipments. Knapsacks, haversacks, and canteens will be kept in the store-room on shipboard, and put in the hands of the troops when occasion requires.

ACCOUTERMENTS, U.S. NAVY. Naval accouterments varied depending on the service required of their wearers. In the Civil War, sailors were employed in amphibious or landing operations, where they fought as infantry (as at Fort Fisher), and at other times as gun crews on men of war. Boarding axes, cutlasses, and pikes were issued to such forces as well as to crews of vessels who might be used in boarding operations. (See Boarding Axe and Holder, Swords and Sabers, and Boarding Pike.)

Belt. Made of buff leather, 47 inches long, 2 inches wide, with a japanned black metal buckle.

Cap Box. Identical with the infantry cap box except that the letters USN are stamped on the flap.

Cartridge Box, Navy (Musket). Black bridle leather, similar in size and shape to the U.S. Infantry cartridge box, but equipped with a single wide carrying loop and stamped USN on the flap.

Cartridge Box (Revolver). Similar to the Navy cartridge box except smaller (5½ inches long and 4 inches high), and furnished with a tin liner for revolver ammunition. Has a pouch for caps sewn on the box under the flap, marked "Navy Yard, Phila. 1863."

Fuze Box. Black leather, 4½ inches wide, 3½ inches tall, and 2 inches deep. Contains a tin box with hinged cover. Marked on flap "Navy Yard, Phila. 1862."

AIGUILLETTE (cord and tassel). An ornamental tagged cord worn on the uniform. In the Federal service a red aiguillette was worn as part of the dress uniform of light artillerymen. (See Uniforms and Clothing—Light Artillery uniform).

AMBROTYPE (See Pictures).

AMBULANCE. The standard Army ambulance was a stout spring wagon having a leather-covered stuffed seat running the length of the vehicle on each side. Hinged to the inner sides of these seats was a third upholstered seat which could be let down so that three patients could lie down lengthwise of the vehicle. In the rear of each ambulance was a water keg, and in front, under the driver's seat, was a supply of beef stock and medicines. On each outer side of the ambulance was hung a canvas-covered litter or stretcher. The whole vehicle was covered with white canvas supported on bows.

Two years before the war a War Department board had tested, in New Mexico, two-wheeled and four-wheeled ambulances. Both were favorably reported on, but the two-wheeled vehicle was considered the best for badly wounded men. During the war, however, the four-wheeled ambulance was found to be the best for field service. The two-wheelers were mainly used for transportation of senior officers for pleasure in garrison or in the field when they were incapacitated for horseback riding. Especially in Washington could one see ranking officers riding about in these "official" cabs. Medical wagons were also used in the field. The allotment of ambulances, as prescribed by General Meade for the Army of the Potomac in the fall of 1863, was three per regiment of infantry, two per cavalry regiment, and one per artillery battery.


Excerpted from CIVIL WAR COLLECTOR'S ENCYCLOPEDIA by FRANCIS A. LORD. Copyright © 2004 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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