IDENTIFIED CIVIL WAR “HOUSEWIFE” SEWING KIT, 49th MASSACHUSETTS, WIA DONALDSONVILLE 1863, WITH ONE OF HIS HAT NUMERALS

$395.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 1100-94

Civil War soldiers usually had to fend for themselves in repairing tears and holes in uniforms, re-sewing buttons, and the like. Sewing kits were favorite going-away gifts to departing soldiers, who jokingly referred to them as “housewives” in camp while they struggled more or less successfully to master some basic sewing techniques. This one bears a very nice pencil note pinned to the interior reading, “Housewife / Used during the Civil War / by / Thomas Gannon / 49 Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. / Co. B.”

Gannon was an 18 year-old farmer from West Stockbridge, Mass., when he enlisted on 9/6/62 and mustered into Co. B of the 49th Mass Vols as a private on 9/19/62. The regiment was organized under Lincoln’s call for troops in August and was dispatched to the deep south to serve under General Nathaniel Banks, the former Massachusetts Governor with political talent, but somewhat less military ability. The regiment arrived in New Orleans in February 1863 and joined the 19th Corps, taking part in the movement against Port Hudson, where it lost 16 officers and men killed and another 64 wounded in the unsuccessful attacks of May 27 and participated in the remainder of the siege, losing another 18 killed and wounded in the assault of June 14. Gannon survived unscathed to witness the surrender of Port Hudson on July 9, but was wounded four days later on an expedition made along Bayou Lafourche from Donaldsonville, in a fierce little fight that cost Federal forces 56 killed, 223 wounded and 186 captured or missing. Gannon’s wound was not serious enough, however, to prevent him from mustering out with the regiment 9/1/63 in Pittsfield, Mass., or re-enlisting 7/21/64 in Co. K of the 8th Mass. Infantry, a 100-day unit that did guard duty in Baltimore and environs, mustering out 11/10/64 with no combat losses.

The sewing kit is in excellent condition and is of the typical construction with a central padded cylinder acting as pin cushion and receptacle for a thimble, with a long roll-up panel of glazed waterproof material lined on the inside and provided with wool panels for needles and pockets for buttons, thread, and the like. It also has several loops for small tools with side flaps to keep them from sliding out. One needle and a small penknife are in place. The penknife has bone side panels, one of which was broken and repaired with wood. There is a little moth damage to the short wool flaps holding a number of needles, but the condition overall is excellent with the edge binding and end ties in place. A few stray bone buttons are inside, as is a single brass numeral “9,” certainly from Gannon’s hat insignia designating the 49th regiment.

This is a very good example of a soldier’s personal gear nicely identified to a Civil War soldier with some active service.  [sr]

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