IDENTIFIED CARTRIDGE BOX PLATE OF GEORGE W. MOWERS, Co. K, 87th PENNSYLVANIA INFANTRY

$295.00 SOLD

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Item Code: M26508

A nicely identified Civil War infantry cartridge box plate belonging to Sergeant George W. Mowers, who served in Co. K 87th Pennsylvania from 2/25/65 to 6/26/65. This is the regulation oval US plate of stamped brass with a solder-filled back and two loops to be fitted to the outer flap of the soldier’s cartridge box. Not just a decorative element, the plate was intended also to keep the flap down and protect the cartridges inside even if the soldier neglected to refasten the latch tab, which might well happen in the heat of battle.

The plate preserves about twenty percent of its original gilt finish, which is now muted, in recessed areas. Other places show a nicely aged, mellow brass patina. There are various surfaces scratches and rubs, but only one ding to the side at the lower right edge. The hooks in place on the reverse. The solder fill is in place and shows various scratches and one spot in the center that looks like someone started to do some carving with a pocket knife.

This is part of a large group of material from Mowers that had been preserved by his family since his death in 1895. He lived in Fayetteville, PA, just west of here and did two tours of duty: six months in the 21st PA Cavalry in 1863-1864, and a litte over three months at the end of war in the 87th PA Infantry, with whom he saw action at Petersburg and Sailor’s Creek. This obviously dates from his infantry service.

Mowers had returned home to the wagon making business run by his father after his first tour of duty in February 1864 and reenlisted a year later, on 2/25/65, mustering in as a sergeant in Co. K of the 87th Pennsylvania on 3/17/65. The regiment had originally recruited in York and Adams County, so Mowers likely knew some its members. Organized originally in September 1861, the oufit had done railroad guard duty and then moved to the Middle Department where it took part in some expeditions. Things got serious for it starting in June 1863 with fighting at Winchester and then a transfer to the 3rd Corps, Army of the Potomac, in July. It took some casualties at Bristoe Station and Mine Run in late 1863 and then joined the 6th Corps in Spring 1864. As part of the 6th Corps it saw service and took casualties at Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Monocacy, Winchester (again,) and Fishers Hill. By the end of 1864, from casualties and discharges, it fielded just a battalion of five companies.

Mowers’ prior service must have played a part in gaining a warrant as sergeant in one of the five new companies recruited in early 1865 to bring the regiment up to strength. Myers was mustered in on March 17 while the regiment was at Petersburg, where it took part in the final assault two weeks later, on April 2, taking part in the capture of a large number prisoners and several cannon, though losing 8 officers and enlisted men killed, 22 enlisted men wounded, and 5 missing. It then took part in the pursuit of Lee and saw action again at Sailor’s Creek. After Appomattox the regiment moved to Danville and then, with the surrender of Johnston, marched back to Richmond and Washington. Mowers is listed as present in the company from March 16 until May 23, when he was hospitalized for jaundice and eventually mustered out on June 26. He returned to Franklin County and his trade as wagon maker, married, fathered four children and died there 28 January 1895, aged 50. He is buried in the Union Cemetery in Fayetteville.

Mowers gathered relics of Gettysburg but also brought home mementos of his own service. Whether he made off with his entire cartridge box rig or not, we can’t say. It was probably easier just to keep its plates. We offer the cartridge box plate here and the shoulder belt plate as a separate item. [SR]

Accompanied by military & pension records from the National Archives. 

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