CARTRIDGE BOX BELT PLATE FROM THE AREA OF SCHENK’S DIVISION AT 2nd BULL RUN, GROVETON, EX-KERKSIS

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Item Code: 490-5782

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This was originally in the collection of Syd Kerksis, a well known early relic hunter, collector and author of several respected books on Civil War material. It comes with Kerksis’s collection envelope bearing his notations on the find location and date: “Groveton – 2d Man[assas] (29 Aug 62)” noting the date of the find as February 1956, the contents of the envelope (“EP” = “eagle plate,”) and a note at bottom: “Schenk / S  WTP,” which we take to mean the position of Schenk’s division in the fighting August 29 on the south side of the Warrenton Turnpike near its intersection with the Groveton-Sudley Road. This was on the left of the Union line as it faced Jackson arrayed along the ridge to the north and became more the center of the line as Longstreet’s forces arrived off to the Union left. Schenk’s troops first suffered under an artillery barrage and later in the day faced some of Early’s brigade before pulling back in the face of an advance by Hood’s division, all in preparation for the climactic fighting the next day, which rather put an end to Gen. Pope’s reputation as a battlefield commander. Please see our other offerings from this collection that include a cartridge box plate recovered at the same time and location.

These plates were made of die-stamped rolled brass with a lead-solder filled back holding an iron wire bent to form two loops for fastening it to the sling. The detail of the stamping is very good and the edge of the plate shows none of the small nicks or dings these plates often suffered. The rim and upper portion of the plate show whitish brown, with the eagle’s body, raised portions of the wings, and lower part of the plate showing more a brown with olive tones. The reverse shows a mix of whitish brown and gray with shallow corrosion. Both loops are intact, though one is bent toward the outside of the plate and a small bit of the rusted wire shows at center.

This is the regulation belt plate used on the infantry cartridge box shoulder sling. These plates were adopted in 1826 with hooks on the reverse for the bayonet shoulder belt and made of brass for artillery and white metal for infantry. This was changed to brass for both services in 1831 and when the bayonet was moved to the waist belt around 1842, the plates were redesigned with two loops on the back for wear as fixed ornaments on the cartridge box sling and plates with hooks were relegated to the NCO and musician’s sword shoulder belts. (Some militia versions used hooks at a different angle for wear on the waist belt.) Although in theory the plate was dropped with introduction of the 1864 cartridge box rigs with no plates, the plate remained in use in the field and was not discontinued until the new 1872 sets of accouterments were distributed. [sr] [ph:m/L]

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