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Reb Shoes in Gettysburg Campaign.

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  • Reb Shoes in Gettysburg Campaign.

    Howdy again.

    Here is an interesting correspondence referring to German import shoes among Lee's men at Gettysburg, and English shoes issued after the battle, etc.:

    Notes of the War
    The Shoeing of Lee’s Army.
    A correspondent of the Savannah Republican gives the following account of the feet on which Lee’s Army returned from Pennsylvania.
    We came out of Maryland with nearly ten thousand barefooted men, and all had suffered more or less in the wear and tear of clothing.—These wants have been pretty well supplied by the quartermasters, who have displayed, commendable zeal in the matter, and by some of the State authorities. The German shoes furnished the men just before they started to Pennsylvania were of a very inferior description. They were low quartered russets, light and thin, and the leather very poor. Such shoes would answer the purpose of a vine dresser, a gardener, or an artisan, who had but little walking to do, but are totally unfit for a soldier, whose marches are long and frequently over rough roads and through drenching rains. They last from three days to six weeks, generally not longer than a week or two, especially if the weather is wet or a river is forded; for the leather being inferior, the soles spread when they get wet, and soon become part of the uppers, as it were, from which they separate when they get dry again.
    We hauled pontoon boats from Fredericksburg to the Shenandoah, and thence to the Potomac, and back again to the Shenandoah; and yet the army forded both rivers as we marched north, and a considerable portion of it did the same thin on our return. You are ready to inquire, why is this? I can only reply that it is owing the want of staff officers educated in their duties, and especially to the want of a corps of practical engineers. It remains to be added in this connection, that the English shoes issued to the men since our return to Virginia, are well made, and that the leather is excellent. The only defect in them is the narrowness of the bottom—a defect which all shoe dealers have noticed in boots and shoes of English manufacture. It is a little remarkable that our agents in Europe, instead of making their selections from the stock on hand, do not have shoes made to order—that is, a strong, substantial army shoe, suited to the general shape and size of the foot of southern men. To march well or fight well, a soldier must be well shod. Wide bottomed, roomy shoes, which can be securely tied on the feet and which fit snugly around the ankle, are the best. Such as we have, the supply has not been sufficient to meet the demand; there is still a considerable number of men who are barefooted.”
    [from the Richmond Examiner, VA, Aug. 13, 1863.]

    Of interest, in disinterring the Union dead at Gettysburg, Samuel Weaver noted that among the corpses, “the shoes of the rebels were differently made from those of our soldiers…”

    I have attached views of the shoes of the center johnny reb of the famous three Confederate POWs photo. They are low quartered. Could they be examples of the German made russet shoes mentioned by the correspondent above?


    James Marshall
    Tampa Bay.
    Attached Files
    James "Archie" Marshall
    The Buzzard Club (Saltmakers for the south)
    Tampa, FL

  • #2
    Re: Reb Shoes in Gettysburg Campaign.

    Excellent research question posting! Looking forward to the discussion.

    FYI- I have moved this to the proper place on the forums to discuss this subject.
    Johnny Lloyd
    John "Johnny" Lloyd
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    • #3
      On July 3, 1863, General Lee's quartermaster telegraphed Richmond with a requisition for 20,000 pairs of shoes for the Army of Northern Virginia. QM General Myers responded "I have been in anticipation of receiving stores from you and not to supply you..."

      From, Charles W. Ramsdell, "Confederate Control of Manufacturing..." the Mississippi Valley Historical Review, vol. 8, p. 246.

      J. Marshall,
      Hernando, FL.
      James "Archie" Marshall
      The Buzzard Club (Saltmakers for the south)
      Tampa, FL