BATTLE OF SHILOH CIVIL WAR EAGLE CARTRIDGE BOX BREAST PLATE

$225.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-5812

This is the regulation US plate worn on the infantry cartridge box sling and was recovered at Shiloh, fought April 6-7, 1862, up to that point the largest battle of the war, one that made and almost unmade Grant’s reputation, and was regarded by Jeff Davis and the turning point for Confederate hopes in the west with the death of commander Albert Sidney Johnston in the fighting.

Made of stamped rolled brass, these plates bore a raised US eagle on the face and had a lead solder filled back to secure an iron wire bent to form two loops that pass through narrow slits in the leather cartridge box sling to be secured by a thong. This one is a nice, even, medium brown with some light brown in the recesses along the rim and the raised details of the eagle clutching arrows and olive branch. The rim shows some shallow dings and some gray, but no deep nicks. The lead solder fill on the reverse shows a mix of gray and white and was fairly thin, leaving the iron wire forming the loops just below the surface, which has oxidized and shows clearly as a brown line for about three-quarters of its length. One loop is solid and good. The other is there, but has rusted and is thin.

This pattern was first adopted in 1826 with hooks on the reverse for the bayonet shoulder belt and made of stamped rolled 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 plate was redesigned with two loops on the back for wear in a fixed position on the cartridge box sling. They were made by a number suppliers during the war. See O’Donnell and Campbell, American Military Belt Plates, pages 274 ff., for a thorough discussion of its development, production, variations, etc. The 1864 cartridge box rigs left them off, as they did the cartridge box plates, but they continued to be worn throughout the war and until  finally replaced by the introduction of the 1872 accouterments.

This is a scarce relic of one of the great battles of the war. Grant was criticized for being caught unprepared, but after two days of hard fighting and some 24,000 casualties on both sides, the Confederate attackers were obliged to withdraw. Grant was sidelined for a time, but Halleck, who replaced him for a time was unimpressive. Lincoln’s judgment won out: “I can’t spare this man: he fights.”  [SR] [PH:L]

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