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  • Be on the lookout!

    Just a reminder to be on the lookout for images of those mysterious knit Federal sack coats and issue shirt that issue records say there were millions of....but for which we seem to have darn little photographic evidence.
    Daniel Fodera
    Palmetto Living History Assoc

  • #2
    Re: Be on the lookout!

    I know nothing at all about knit sack coats but I do have an opinion on the images.

    I would say that compared to the number of soldiers there were there are darn few images to prove anything to be conclusive.

    I not a mathematician but Im not sure if we can be certain from the photos that are left. I wonder what the percentage is, pictures left to number of soldiers?? Who were the guys that did have them taken? Where were they and when?

    Might be far fetched but what if this type of coat was given to guys when there were no photograpers available? What if they fell apart before they were in one place long enough to have a picture taken in them?

    Just some food for thought or food for the garbage disposal if your so inclined :)

    Bob, please sign all of your posts with your full name - Mike Chapman

    Originally posted by Fod
    Just a reminder to be on the lookout for images of those mysterious knit Federal sack coats and issue shirt that issue records say there were millions of....but for which we seem to have darn little photographic evidence.
    Last edited by dusty27; 02-02-2004, 10:09 PM.

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    • #3
      Re: Be on the lookout!

      This brings back a thought I have had for along time about knit coats. Given the existence of the automatic knitting machine of the time, it is posible to have knitted clothing in the quartmaster system, and the only way possible if the quantities of issue are true as the records say. Here is where the snag begins. Anything knitted will unravel if it is cut or is torn thus, not lasting very long at all. I believe once this was realized, the Quartermaster system may have recalled them to be destroyed and the yarns reused.

      Of course to backup the above thought, records would need to be found describing or mentioning recalls, or anything related to the problem descirbed above.

      Any diaries or letters that mention knit clothing out there?
      [SIZE=2][B]Mark Mason[/B][/SIZE] :cool:
      [SIZE=2][I]Tar Water Mess[/I][/SIZE]
      [SIZE=2][I]GHTI[/I][/SIZE]
      [URL]http://http://www.ghti.homestead.com/[/URL]

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      • #4
        Re: Be on the lookout!

        There are actually legions of references to knit blouses in period sources. I touch on the subject in For Fatigue Purposes... a few times and give an example of a contract for knit blouses.

        I looked high and low for a good image of a knit blouse for my book and only came across one. It's the only image I know of that can be safely called a knit blouse. It's (or at least used to be) owned by Paul McKee. It's shown in Paul's article "Notes on the Army Issue Sack Coat" (a great article by the way and highly reccomended) in the Summer 1995 issue of Military Collector and Historian, vol. XLVII, number 2.

        I've found getting the material sourced to make repro knit blouses has been problematic. I had a source at one time (in Poland of all places) but it dried up very quickly. It is possible to make knit goods that will hold up well, and was even back then. The Army actually contracted to have blouses made from knit materials specifically. You are correct though that the life of the knit blouses would have been shorter owing to the inferiority of the weave. Even still, I've worked with knit goods and it doesn't necessarily unravel any more than the loose weave flannel we are more familiar with.

        Best,

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        • #5
          Re: Be on the lookout!

          P.S. In all my research I have never come across anything that would indicate the Army ever issued anything like a "recall" for any knit goods and would not have had reason to do so. In fact they ordered knit goods repeatedly throughout the war.

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          • #6
            Re: Be on the lookout!

            According to the "Excerpts from the Quartermaster General's annual report for the year ending June 30, 1864"

            The "Monthly statement of clothing reported on hand at the various clothing depots for July 1, 1864. (PART II)" (which reports on the supplies on hand at the following locations: New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Washington, Baltimore, Augusta, Boston, Ft. Monroe, Harrisburg, Wheeling, Indianapolis, Columbus, Ft. Leavenworth, Quincy, Steubenville, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Louisville, Davenport, Chicago, Madison, Springfield, Saint Paul, and Cairo) reported the following figures.

            Sack coats, lined: 615,070
            Sack coats, unlined: 379,108
            Sack coats, knit: 5,311

            Of the 25 clothing depots in this report, only four had knit sacks on hand:
            Fort Monroe had 786, New York 844, Springfield 85 and St. Paul with the mother load at 1956.

            Anyway, if there were "millions", they clearly were almost gone by the summer of 1864. I think it's pretty clear they were always a rarity and were probably more of an expedient during a time of crisis than a commonly issued item.
            John Stillwagon

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            • #7
              Clarification

              Whoops. That will teach me to post without documentation in front of me. I recall seeing a million plus number in an article on sack or shirts, I can't remember which. I don't have it with me right now, does the CRRC article on issue shirts list numbers of knit shirts?

              Regards,
              Daniel Fodera
              Palmetto Living History Assoc

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