Edward P. Bridgeman
Shelter Half
Company G, 38th Massachusetts Infantry
By Scott Cross
May 1999

In the collection of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum there is a late war production Shelter Tent Half. Private Edward Payson Bridgeman, Company G, 38th Massachusetts Infantry carried it. Bridgeman used this tent during the siege of Petersburg and noted the fact in ink on the half. The tent half was originally donated to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and assigned catalog #1964.45.1, and then transferred to the Veterans Museum and assigned catalog # 1995.25.85.

It conforms to the specifications on most known shelter halves. The overall dimensions are; Length 65 and Width 61. This is close to the 1864 specifications of 66 x 65 if you take into consideration the shrinkage. The material used is eight-ounce cotton with a blue line drill. The blue line runs along the length or selvedge edge of the material, 7/8 from the edge. Pat Klein, of Family Heirloom Weavers, reproduces this material, but has an exclusive deal with Nick Sekala (I'm not sure what the situation is now in 2007). The material came from a bolt that was wider than 33. This is evident from the fact that the center seam, where the two pieces meet, does not have a selvedge edge or the blue line. There is a hem along at the top and bottom edges. This is a simple folded over twice hem with a single row of stitching. Folding the two raw edges inside each other and sewing two rows of stitching, makes the center seam. There are no makers or inspectors marks on the tent half.

The tent half has nine sets of buttons and buttonholes at the top, and seven on each side. The buttonholes are 5/8, running perpendicular to the edge, with 18 stitches per inch. They are spaced 7 7/8 apart on the sides and 7 apart along the top. Buttons are placed 3 1/2 from the edge and buttonholes are placed 1 from the edge. The center buttonhole at the top goes through the center seam as opposed to being off-center as in some cases. There are two hand-whipped grommets at each upper corner and on each lower corner. What makes this a late war production shelter half is the extra set of grommet holes on the center of the bottom edge and the use of two piece tin buttons. Each of the grommets is reinforced with a 3 x 4 linen square that is hemmed over on all four sides.