CIVIL WAR UNIFORM DRESS COAT LAPEL FROM FORT PEMBINA

$225.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1052-566

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These two pieces come from a US army dress coat discarded by a soldier at Fort Pembina, ND, and recovered there from excavations in wet, anaerobic soil that has preserved leather and cloth in remarkable condition. The fabric is soft, pliable, and displays well with the color only shifting from blue to an olive and brown, showing some stains and ragged edges. The size and spacing of the buttonholes line up with Civil War enlisted infantry dress coats, which makes sense since the fort was established in 1870 when the army was still issuing Civil War vintage uniforms, and continued to do so for a time, but also because photos exist of the fort’s early infantry garrison, clearly showing them in Hardee hats and Civil War frock coats.

The excavations at the fort were conducted on private property with the owner’s permission. 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 barracks for enlistedmen, 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 of 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, is very displayable, and has a tight provenance to an Indian War post garrisoned by the U.S. army for a well-defined period that encompasses the 1870s and 1880s Indian Wars, but would also be in place in a Civil War collection.    [sr] [ph:m]

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