PIECE OF ARMY BLANKET FROM FORT PEMBINA, NORTH DAKOTA

$275.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1052-607

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This piece of a U.S. Army blanket comes from the excavations at Fort Pembina, ND, where wet, anaerobic soil conditions produced not only leather gear, but cloth in amazingly good condition. This shows the typical dark endstripe of army issue blankets and was clearly issued and then discarded sometime between 1870 and 1895. The fabric is solid and it displays well. The color has shifted slightly, showing more brown on one side and more gray on the other.

Like the rest of the army, the garrision was uniformed and equipped with Civil War surplus into the 1870s and then gradually received other patterns as they were adopted and issued. This could be a Civil War issue blanket, but we tend to think from the better weave, width of the stripe, etc., that it is more likely an Indian War period piece, perhaps the Model 1873 or 1876. In any case, it has a nice, tight provenance to a small, Indian War, frontier army post.

Situated in the Red River Valley in North Dakota near the Canadian border, Fort Pembina was established in 1870 and in operation until 1895. Trading posts existed earlier in the area as part of the fur trade, and the first U.S. military post there was temporary- manned by a detachment of Minnesota troops in 1863-1864 following the 1862 Sioux uprising. In March 1870 a new fort was established south of the Pembina River and about 200 yards west of the Red River, completed by July and named in honor of Gen. George H. Thomas. The name was changed to Fort Pembina in September and the initial garrison consisted of two companies of the 20th US Infantry. Their main duty was to provide security for settlers worried about Sioux returning south from Canada, but the troops were more occupied with escorting boundary surveys along the Canadian border and preventing Fenian raids heading north into Canada.

The fort included enlistedmen’s barracks, officers’ quarters, guard house, ordnance storehouse, company kitchen, root house, laundress’s quarters, quarters for civilian employees, hospital and hospital servant’s house, a barn for the “hospital cow,” quartermaster and commissary offices and storehouse, stables, wagon shed, etc. The garrison reached peak strength in 1878 af 200, but the average was about 125 enlisted men and 8 officers. An October 1885 return listed 97 men, 2 field pieces, 1 mountain howitzer, 100 rifles, 19 pistols, 23 mules, and 9 wagons. By 1890 the post had just 23 men, and after an 1895 fire destroyed some 19 buildings it was decided to abandon the fort rather than rebuild, the last detachment left in September. The property was turned over to the Interior Department and later sold in 1902.

This is in remarkably good condition for an excavated piece and very displayable. It would fit a collection illustrating life in the postwar frontier army.  [sr] [ph:m]

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