BATTLEFIELD PICKUP CARTRIDGE BOX FROM LOCUST HILL, AN EARLY CONFEDERATE VICTORY AGAINST SHERIDAN IN THE VALLEY

$950.00

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Item Code: 846-180

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This cartridge box retains an old tag with a nice brown ink inscription reading, “Box for cartrages - Rifle Musket- left on battle field at ‘Locust Hill’ in battle between Sheridan and Early.” “Locust Hill” was the name of the large estate and brick mansion owned by the Packett family that was Sheridan’s headquarters in the battle of Summit Point on August 21, 1864. This box originally surfaced in 1987 at an estate sale in Charlestown, WV, near the site of the battle.

The engagement was a rocky start for Sheridan’s Valley Campaign. He was just concentrating his forces when Early struck him with converging columns led by himself and Richard Anderson. Fortunately for Sheridan, Early found it difficult to coordinate his two separate forces and Sheridan was able to regroup for a fighting withdrawal to Halltown.

The box is an early battlefield pickup still in good condition. It follows the 1861 pattern for infantry .58 caliber cartridge boxes with a straight line of stitching for the latch tab and riveted waistbelt loops on the back in addition to provisions for a shoulder belt, a portion of which is still buckled in place on the bottom of the box. A portion of the latch tab is present. One corner of the outer flap is torn and missing. The other corner is folded up, something often seen in boxes that have seen real field use, from soldiers opening the flap for cartridges. Two slits indicate it carried a cartridge box plate.

The inner implement pouch, flap, and tab are present, though showing wear and small losses on the left. The inner flap is present and complete. The side ears are there, though bent inward and some of the stitches have popped. The inner flap bears a maker’s stamp, some of which is light, but reads, “J.B. THAXTER / PORTLAND, ME. /1862.” Thaxter had contracts in 1862 for both .69 and .58 caliber boxes and is one of the few makers who dated his products. Both magazine tins are in place. One lacks the upper divider in the tray, often missing since they wer simply soldered in place. One of the bottom sling buckles is in place, holding part of the shoulder sling. The other is detached, but is with the box and is still attached to the old tag. The box is in good condition and never touched with any polish or leather treatment. It shows appropriate age, wear and use, as one would want to see in a battlefield pick-up.

There were a number of stories about the battle preserved by Pakett family members who were still in the house when Sheridan took it over. One of the family recalled that, being a Sunday, Sheridan had a band on the front lawn playing hymns when the trouble started. The house was struck numerous times by Confederate gun fire and the family sheltered in the basement until Early sent word he intended to use artillery as well and all civilians should be sent away. This is a great relic of a key campaign that seemed to go well for the Confederate forces at the beginning.  [sr]

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