View Full Version : M1862 Bullseye Canteen
07-04-2004, 07:58 PM
Just how common was the Bullseye west of the Appalacians? I'm curious if anyone has any documentation of issue to western troops of the Bullseye canteen. My question is just how common was the item?
That said I found this while parusing letters looking for period gripes. It is from a soldier, I believe w/ Burnside, while stationed in Nashville. Longstreets men are mentioned as well as aquiring two unusual weapons from Longstreets dead: "The Colonel ordered that we strike our new canteens bright... they don't poltis (sic) worth a damn as the ash and spit pools in the grooves and the shite sticks... (uninteligable). Saturday night Colonel came down with the shits and scratched the morning parade. The Major told our Captains to have us put the covers back on. I already used the damned thing to patch my coat so a batch of like minded souls went looking for material and found the Colonels coat. We have our covers and the Colonel needs a new coat. Serves the bastard rite (sic)."
I found this amusing and interesting as it implies that at least some canteens were issued w/ a dark blue cover. I had never heard of canteens being struck bright and frankly see it as an asphalt soldier stunt. Has anyone else seen reference to it?
07-04-2004, 08:11 PM
CW era canteens were pretty bright when new. Even now if the cover is torn on one that has been stored properly, the tin may be bright under the cover except in areas where the abrasion of dirt between the cover and the bright tin has dulled it. For bullseye canteens this is on top of every ring. Maybe the good Colonel simply wanted the covers removed so everyones canteen would look alike. The military does strange things.
07-05-2004, 10:21 AM
"Just how common was the Bullseye west of the Appalacians? I'm curious if anyone has any documentation of issue to western troops of the Bullseye canteen. My question is just how common was the item?"
As with most items of clothing and gear, if it is what the unit, time, and place one is portraying had, it would be very common. ;-)
The 1862 bullseye was produced at Schuylkill Arsenal after July 1862, while other arsenals (Cincinnati and St.Louis, and contractors for New York) and contractors continued to produce the 1858 "smoothside."
However, it was often the case with federal arsenals and depots, and Quartermaster Department, that troops were not necessarily equipped from the closest or "state affilation" supply centers. Meaning, the arsenals and depots not only, usually produced (exception: New York) and/or contracted out locally- they also shipped items between themselves.
07-05-2004, 11:30 AM
Would it be possible for you to cite the name of the soldier and his unit, as well as the source of the letter? Very earthy and interesting, and very different from the usual. "I now take pen in hand to tell you I need warm drawers, cake and..." type of letter.
Co. Mil. Hist.
07-05-2004, 04:04 PM
Steven, I have/had about 130+ letters transcribed from originals in various Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota historical societies. About a year ago I put them into a computer... In April my computer suffered a meltdown due to multiple viruses and apparently an earlier virus had corrupted the backups. Including the legend for my key as to which historical society each letter was from. To make matters worse the corruption bled parts of the letters together and partially deleted others.
In the collection were letters from Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconisin troops with the majority being Iowa letters.
This is from one that was partially deleted. I'm fairly certain this is from the same man who wrote about finding a pair of odd English rifles after the battle of Nashville. Part of the problem is that I'm fairly certain that this letter was written from Knoxville in the winter spring of 1863-64 but Nashville is spoken of quite liberally... in particular the location of a certain house of... questionable character. This leads me to believe that the letter was one that was mixed or the beginning of the following letter was deleted merging the two together. Essentially many hours of labor have been made worthless.
If anything this should serve as a warning to keep hard copies...
I apologize for not being able to provide more information.
07-06-2004, 02:00 PM
That very well might be an account from an Ohio soldier. Somewhere in the OR's is an 1864 letter from QMGenl. Meigs to the Governors of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. The letter lays out how the 100 day men were to be uniformed and equipped.
Another way of asking your question is how much material from Philadelphia was sent to the West. We have to be careful as there are really several "Wests" and their history is not of a common support. As of yet we don't have a complete picture, the research hasn't been done. The one thing that can be said for certain is that if it would have saved the people's money to have goods brought in from Eastern markets, good chance it was done.
As far as canteen covers and the dark blue business. The only contracts listed for canteen cloth in ExDoc. 84 (contracts for 1864) reprinted in the Serial Set is let by Cincinnati and lists both canteen cloth and canteen string.
When someone asks me personally my opinion on this, I remind folks that we simply must not forget the tremendous purchasing power of the USQMD during the latter half of the war. The canteen article states something to the effect of Schuykill using up material on hand. By 1864, dark blue flannel material would have very much been on hand. Regardless of our interpretation of the expense of indigo dyed cloth, if there was a material to be called common on this continent during that period, it would have been indigo dyed cloth.
So the question would be, unless there were stocks of "other" materials at Schuykill, such as jeans and satinets or rejected blankets, what would be the most common material suited for use? Just thinking outside the cracker box.
BTW, the OR referance. According to Meigs, Ohio's 100 days men were to clothed and equipped by Philadelphia, Indiana and Illinois by New York. I'll see if I can round it up. Some of these guys, I believe, made it to the 23rd corps.
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