CONFEDERATE CARTRIDGE BOX FROM THE FIRST DAY’S FIELD AT GETTYSBURG, SHIELDS MUSEUM

$4,250.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-2448

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This Confederate cartridge box was a battlefield pick-up from the first day’s battlefield here at Gettysburg and comes from the collection of Tom Bohon, who acquired it in 1974 directly from the Shields Museum. The box is an infantry cartridge box constructed along the general lines of the U.S. 1855/61 patterns with provisions for shoulder sling and waist belt, but with a number Confederate characteristics. The box is rather tall, suggesting it may have been intended for .69 caliber buck and ball ammunition, but early .58 caliber boxes followed a similar pattern and the box would suffice for either.

Interestingly, the latch tab on the outer flap is secured with a copper rivet, which U.S. accouterment makers only picked up on in early 1864, though the sling buckles on the bottom are secured by stitching alone, which U.S. makers reinforced with rivets starting in 1861. The horizontal sling retaining straps on the upper rear are well sewn with angled stitching and the vertical waist belt loops are secured with rivets at the bottom, but the loops themselves are very plain with rather straight cut bottom edges.

The inner flap is present, with one side ear in place and the other missing. The implement pouch is there, though its flap has losses to the edge and the fastening strap is present, but detached. The magazine tins are missing, but the box still holds its shape. The bottom buckles are partially detached. It seems pretty clear the box was picked up, had the sling removed, partially tearing the billets holding the buckles from the bottom of the box, and then again discarded. In any case, the box shows a thin, dusty yellowish residue from a Spanish Moss blanket that was either used as rag for gun cleaning or just happened to have been covering the box when found on the field. These were characteristically Confederate substitutes for cavalry and artillery wool saddle pads or “numnah.” Details can be found in Knopp’s study of Confederate Saddles and Horse Equipment. They were used in the western and the eastern theatre and, according to Knopp, “are routinely found in the records of the Richmond Arsenal as early as the summer of 1861” (p.115.) The flap, back and sides of the box show wear, but a lot of original finish and not much of the blanket residue. It looks like the back of the box rested on it with one end caught under the flap and against the body of the box while it lay on the field.

The Shields Museum was not in the habit of selling things, but Tom was one of our earliest and most regular visitors as he was at the Shields Museum. It was only by chance that the museum needed space in 1974 and Ellen Shields, managing the museum for the family offered him the opportunity to buy the contents of one display case, devoted to relics of the first day’s field, simply to make room on the floor. It was an all or nothing deal and Tom had the foresight and passion to make the purchase. We are pleased to be able to offer these pieces, which have a tight provenance to the battle and have never been on the market before, other than when Tom was able to purchase them. Please check out our other offerings from this collection as well. As Tom realized, this is an opportunity not often presented.  [sr] [ph:L]

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