View Full Version : Artificer?
02-12-2007, 05:56 PM
I was on another forum trying to learn of period harness makers. I want to do a functional impression of a leather worker . I offer repair of gear for soldiers in the field. It wa suggested to me the job of an Artificer. I do not have any knowledge of this job, and am wandering if anyone here could help? I was advised they repaired leather and done blacksmithing for the artillery. Were they attached to other branches? Also I was told the insignia was of a half moon knife, any one have pics of one or know someone who makes the insignia?
02-12-2007, 06:53 PM
Jeremy, The half moon was the insignia of a Saddler in the 1880's and the artificer had crossed hammer not to be confused with the crossed axes of a pioneer.They also had an insignia for Farriers who did their shoeing and equine maintenence.I have never seen an insignia for any of these save the Pioneer during the Civil War perhaps others have but the artificer was not a leather repair specialist, Bud Scully 13th NJ and 69Th NY ps the Farrier wore a horseshoe in Branch colors.
02-12-2007, 07:37 PM
As I figured. I thought I had seen a patch in S&S catalog a few years ago of the crescent knife, but i thought I remembered it as post war. Thank you! I think I will just stay with the wandering civilian impression looking to make afew dollars or some grub for work! This way I can get into both camps and not only get coffee but tobacco as well!!!!!
02-12-2007, 10:25 PM
So, what exactly is an artificer? Is it someone who performs a specfic job for the regiment, like farrier, etc or is it a different position all together. I know I've seen the term, on a morning report or something but never had a clue what it meant.
02-12-2007, 11:33 PM
The 1861 Hunt, Barry & French Instruction for Field Artillery manual states:
"Personnel. The number of men required for the service of a battery, including non-commissioned officers and artificers, varies from twenty to thirty per piece, according to circumstances: the number for field service should never be less than twenty-five, even in 6-pounder batteries. They should be intelligent, active, muscular, well-developed, and not less than five feet seven inches high; a large proportion should be mechanics. The number of officers varies from four to six, depending on the number of pieces in the battery. "
From my research a artificer at this time in military history is anyone in the battery that has a specialized job, ie: blacksmith, farrier, leatherworker, etc... They may have been named per se in later periods, but for now they were grouped under artificer. Basically, a skilled worker.
I did have a citation from another period manual that states the above, but right now it is avoiding me. I will post when I find it.
Best of luck.
Your obedient servant,
02-13-2007, 01:51 PM
Artificers go back to the time of the Revolution. The Continental had a cadre setup for the "Corps of Artificers" but it never really got off the ground during that war. The position of Artificer came into being with the army around the time of the War of 1812. The army realized that it needed trained personnel to perform certain tasks, and it was cheaper to have those folks in the army instead of hiring contractors to perform the same jobs. So, if you were a skilled Wheelwright, Harness Maker, Blacksmith, Carpenter, and a few other trades which escape me at the moment, and you needed steady employment, you could join the army as an artificer, and work your trade.
Artificers were considered skilled laborers, were paid about a corporal's wage, and were excused duties because of their work. Most were stationed at permanent posts, but the Mexican War put them in the field with the army. They did not participate in regular army duty because let's face it, where are you going to get another wheelwright in the middle of the Sonoran Desert?
02-13-2007, 02:19 PM
The following material is from the 1861 US Army Regs, and are the only references therein that I can find for artificers. From the looks of this, only the artillery was entitled to artificers by that title.
902. When it is necessary to employ the army at work on fortifications, in surveys, in cutting roads, and other constant labor of not less than ten days, the non-commissioned officers and soldiers so employed are enrolled as extra-duty men, and are allowed twenty-five cents a day when employed as laborers and teamsters, and forty cents a day when employed as mechanics, clerks, storekeepers, &c., at all stations east of the Rocky Mountains, and thirty-five and fifty cents per day, respectively, at all stations west of those mountains. But no man shall be rated and paid as a clerk or mechanic, who is not skilled in his particular employment; nor any man as a storekeeper, &c., whose trust is not of sufficient importance. Mere strikers, inferior workmen, &c. shall be rated as laborers. Commanding officers will particularly see to this; nor shall any soldier be rated at the higher pay, except by their order.
903. Enlisted men of the Ordnance and Engineer Departments, and artificers of artillery, are not entitled to this allowance when employed in their appropriate work.
904. Soldiers will not be employed as extra-duty men for any labor in camp or garrison which can properly be performed by fatigue parties.
905. No extra-duty men, except those required for the ordinary service of the Quartermaster, Commissary, and Medical Departments, and saddlers in mounted companies, will be employed without previous authority from department head-quarters, except in case of necessity, which shall be promptly reported to the department commander.
906. Extra-duty men should attend the weekly and monthly inspections of their companies, and, if possible, one drill in every week.
907. Extra-duty pay of the saddler in a mounted company will be charged on the company muster-roll, to be paid by the Paymaster and refunded by the Ordnance Department. Extra-duty pay of cooks and nurses in the hospital service will be paid by the quartermaster, in the absence of a medical disbursing officer, and refunded by the Medical Department.
1144. The horses of a field battery will be shod by the artificers of the company, one of whom shall be a farrier. No other compensation than the pay and allowances of that grade will be made for these services.
Bob 125th NYSVI
02-13-2007, 10:49 PM
Maybe the best way to think of an 'artificer' is as an integrated 'mechanic' for an artillery unit. He'd have to have both metal working and wood working skills. But I suspect he also had other duties, like firing the cannons when the battery was in action.
As a teamster I can tell you harness repair is not a 'field' activity. If something breaks in the field you either tie it back together and hope it holds till you get back to the barn or do without it if you can. It is very rare for something essential and not cobbable (is that a word) to break. Part of your daily routine is to check the harness both before and after you put it on the horse to ensure there are no defects. Major defects means that it doesn't go on the horse.
Things that commonly break, like bridles, lines and bellybands are small and easy to carry spares of.
If I had a nickle for everytime I've seen a team bringing home a wagon with bailing twine being used to hold something together, well I could afford topnotch authentic gear and be able to replace any piece at a whim.
Permanent repairs need some pretty hefty sewing equipment that usually isn't very portable. In all likelihood quartermaster units kept spares for common repairs (like straps with buckles at either end or lines) or complete sets that were issued as replacements when the damaged ones were turned in.
Harness repair units if they existed were most like at static supply depots well behind the front lines.
02-14-2007, 07:16 AM
From The Ordnance Manual, Contents of limber chest for Battery Wagon C (Field battery wagon)
Shoe knife 1
Half round knife 1
Shears pair 1
Rule 2 ft 1
Awls and handles 12
claw tool 1
strap awl 1
beeswax lbs 2
Black wax lbs 3
Bristles(hog) oz 8
shoe thread(probably2 oz for making up large thread) lbs 5
Patent thread lbs 5
Buckles assorted .75 to1.5 inches doz. 3
tacks M(thousand) 3
gunners calipers 1
shoe knives 2
scissors pairs 2
Also included in the wagon body among the spare harness parts
Harness leather side 1
Bridle leather side 2
This is just a guess but the saddler and carpenter would be drivers of the battery wagon
02-14-2007, 10:28 AM
Thanks for posting that. I was just considering adding this to the discussion, but you beat me to it :)
Yeah, the batteries, as well as the Cavalry units HAD to have artificers and field repair materials with them, simply due to the nature of war and transportation. Yes, spares were carried, but it was also a requirement that new parts be able to be manufactured, if needs be.
This is the same philosophy even today, in the US Navy. I suspect the Army is much the same, but I can't speak for them. However, every ship has some sort of repair shop onboard and raw materials on hand to effect repairs and manufacture replacement parts when those are not on hand.
Anyway, whilst the rest of the battery or squadron were drilling, doing fatigue duty, gaurd duty, etc, the artificers would be working to repair and/or fabricate whatever was need. That meant, not only making new strapping, or reins, or girths, but having the blacksmith gabricate staples, links, pins, etc as required. Heck, think about just keeping up with shoeing the horses. There were, on average, around a hundred animals per battery. It would have been a steady business.
Now look at a cavalry regiment, where you not only have 10 times the horses to shoe, but all those saddles to maintain, plus swords to sharpen, etc.
I would venture that the work of the farriers, the support staff, is as unheralded as that of the clerks on the regimental staffs, and yet just as important to the war effort as anyone else. Amateurs discuss tactics. Professionals discuss logistics.
Heh.... if anyone were ever to write a book about them, perhaps they could title it: "Awl For The Union!"....... :rolleyes:
02-14-2007, 02:09 PM
Your post has helped me realize that everyone in the military is important. Well, this was not a lost thought but, one of my many greats grandfathers, Oliver Irvine Anderson, was a farrier in the Arkansas Light Artilley. He was listed as a farrier and thought man what a lame task (meaning he's not an officer, gunner, or something more romantic). However now you've made me see that although a daily task it was a VERY important one to keep the artillery "light" so to speak. So, my level of pride for my planter turned farrier forefather has grown a great deal. Thank!
02-14-2007, 07:53 PM
what a awesome subject.its great to see subjects like this come to light with the wealth of research that members of this board do!!
02-16-2007, 03:10 PM
My gr-gr-gr uncle was listed as a "Artificer" in Co. F, 12th Georgia Battalion.
The last record I have of him states he was " on a shoe making detail at Petersburg and when the lines were broken by Grant he was with the wagon trains, not the command."
02-16-2007, 11:31 PM
Just FYI the "cresent" or "half moon" knife to which you refer is technically called a head knife. It is used for thinning leather for joints, as well as cutting out parts from a side of leather. In case anyone cares to know.
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