CONFEDERATE CAVALRY CARBINE CARTRIDGE BOX

$1,950.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-2797

This cartridge box measures about 7 by 4.5 by 1.25 inches, has a one-piece tin magazine inside, made without tray or dividers, and has a round, lead finial on the bottom. The measurements and configuration fit those of a carbine cartridge box and it was made without an implement pouch on the front or provision for a shoulder belt on the rear, all fitting with its role as a carbine box (the CS specifications don’t seem to include them and U.S. boxes sometime omit them,) though, of course, it could have been forced into service for a rifle, given how hard pressed the Confederacy was for gear at various times. The flap, back, bottom and front are one piece of leather. There is no inner flap, but the flap has side ears added that would come down over the round-topped side panels. For the “official” specifications see the CS Ordnance Manual. For comparable examples see Collecting the Confederacy or Todd, Vol.1, who shows the U.S. box that likely served as a pattern, though with inner flap and implement pouch, made for use with a .52 Sharps or similar carbine (Plate 51, bottom center.)

This box certainly saw some active service. The original vertical loops on the back for wear on a waist belt were removed or came off at some point (some of the stitching for them is evident), and the soldier improvised to keep it in service by cutting slits on each side of the reverse, about where the edges of the belt loops had been, to feed a belt through for wear. Slits forming a narrower, single loop at the center of the rear, must have proved an unpromising first try, not giving enough support and allowing the box to tilt.

The latch tab is still in place, secured by a single line of stitching, and lead finial, oxidized to white, is still there as well, as is one of the side ears. The stitching has given way along much of the front seam of the side panel on the wearer’s left, but it is still in place. On the wearer’s right a narrow section of the edge of the front panel is missing, about an inch long, having torn along the stitching holes, leaving a short gap, and showing a crude repair above using a heavy string or light twine. This looks very much like a soldier’s improvised repair in the field and should be left as is. Like the improvised belt loops, it speaks volumes about the need to keep gear in service as long as possible in the Confederate army, particularly in a cavalry unit that might be operating far from any base or chance of resupply.

The box shows good deep, deep brownish black color and surface, with scratches and wrinkling but no finish loss to speak of. The lower flap was scalloped slightly to give a slight point at bottom center. The lower, rounded, corners have been turned up for better access to the contents or curled up from exposure to the elements: either reason pointing to box with some very active field service, if we could not tell from the improvised belt loops and repairs.

The outer flap has several sets of initials carved into it that likely represent three soldiers issued the box at different times. The initials “T.E.” in shaded letters of medium height appear at top center and again at left in the lower line. A larger pair of initials, “RH,” also shaded, but larger, appears next to them at left center, and a final set three, written with single lines but with serifs, is at right, with what is likely a false start to the “S” written a bit higher. The letters on the lower line run together, but the different sizes and styles make clear three writers are involved.

This would make a really nice addition to a Confederate cavalry collection. Needless to say, if you have Robinson Sharps or southern-used U.S. Sharps, it would be hard to find a better companion piece.  [sr] [ph:L]

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