ARTILLERY FIRST LIEUTENANT SHOULDER STRAPS

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Item Code: 2023-3246

There were usually four first lieutenants assigned to each battery of field artillery at full strength. These shoulder straps could have been worn by any one of them or a lieutenant in a battery of horse artillery or even the heavy artillery who served in fortifications, but also in the field, the best known cases being those heavy artillery regiments brought into the field as infantry in Grant’s 1864 campaign. These are embroidered bullion with single rank bars at each end and coiled wire edges to the borders and bars. The borders and bars are tad wider than usual, which some take as later manufacture, but are clearly shown as kind of the entry level officer’s shoulder strap in the “extra rich” category of Schuler, Hartley and Graham’s 1864 catalog of military goods.

The red field shows some minor soiling, but no holes. The bullion has darkened overall, but still shows use of brighter strands next to groups of duller strands to create the pin-stripe effect visible in the SH&G catalog. The coiled wire edges are still complete and in place and the strands of bullion show no gaps exposing the under lying cording used to form the raised borders. The base fabric shows some wear to the edges and has been trimmed back, likely to neaten it up after removing the straps from the coat, something we have seen frequently done when families discarded the frock coat if it showed any moth damage, or they just wanted space, usually keeping the buttons and insignia as mementos, though we know of one collector who saved a coat with buttons, straps and all that was moments from being tossed on a bonfire by descendants clearing out a house.

These would look well in a collection of embroidered officer’s insignia or an artillery display.  [sr] [ph:m]

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