COMPLETE CIVIL WAR CARTRIDGE BOX RIG WITH OLD FAMILY LABEL

$1,295.00

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Item Code: 1181-19

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This set is the standard issue for a Union infantryman armed with a .58 caliber rifle musket- the typical infantry long arm of the Civil War on both sides. The box was designed to carry 40 paper cartridges, with two packs of ten opened and the cartridges for ready use placed in the upper trays of the two tin “magazines” in the box, and an unopened pack of ten held in reserve in the bottom compartment of each magazine tin, which could be pulled out for use. The box is fitted with a short inner flap to help keep the contents dry and a small pocket with flap on the lower front for carrying gun tools. The box is fitted with loops on the back for wear on a waist belt and with horizontal retaining loops and buckles for wear on a shoulder sling.

This is the March 1864 pattern that introduced some small changes in design, mainly a rivet to help secure the latch tab on the front flap, and the cost saving measure of simply embossing a “U.S.” in an oval on the front flap so that it could be worn without the separate lead solder-filled brass cartridge box plate. In this case the soldier was issued both the box plate and the corresponding round eagle shoulder belt plate, simply mounting the former over the embossed U.S., making it virtually indistinguishable from the earlier pattern still in wide use.

The upper front of the flap has the remains of an old paper label reading in ink, “Carried by W. R. [???] in the War of Rebellion.” The last three words were later crossed out with “Civil War” added beneath in an attempt to be helpful. Parts of the soldier’s last name are visible and with some luck and research it might be possible to firm up the identification. In any case, from the pattern of the box it would be a soldier whose term of service covered some of 1864, the year of climactic battles in the eastern and western theatres.

The rig is in good condition. There is crackling and crazing to the finish of the box and bridle leather sling from flexing and use, on the corners of the flap for instance, but not a lot of finish loss. All flaps, loops and buckles are in place. The seams are good- we see just a few threads giving way on one of the small side ears on the inner flap. The tins are in place and missing just the upper divider in one tray, used to group the ready cartridges into 6 and 4 to keep them from breaking. The remains of one paper cartridge are in one tray. Both plates are present. They were taken off and polished at some point, likely by the same family member who thought “War of Rebellion” too hard to understand and are now held in place by a single wood peg and a leather thong. The brass will tone down again eventually.

The lower edge of the inner flap is nicely marked “H.G. Haedrich / Philada.” The first two initials are obscured by crackling in the finish, but there is no doubt about it. Haedrich had been a harness maker and saddler in Philadelphia before the war and obtained U.S. government contracts for thousands of accouterments in 1862 and 1863. In 1864 he received a contract for 20,000 sets of infantry accouterments to be delivered to the Frankford Arsenal under a July 4 call for proposals. Although the government was experimenting with a version of the box eliminating the inner flap, Haedrich is known to have supplied this March 1864 pattern.

This Civil War infantry cartridge box would look great displayed with a .58 caliber rifle musket, make a nice addition to an infantry display, a collection illustrating the development of accoutrements, or be an interesting example of a set brought home by a veteran and preserved by his family.  [sr] [ph:m]

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