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Cartridge box shoulder strap breast plates.

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  • Cartridge box shoulder strap breast plates.

    I am very new to campaigning and am trying to get my impression as authentic as possible. My question is so often you see Union soldiers clad from top to bottom in brass ornaments. Would this always be the case? As far as hat brass and the cartridge box strap breast plate? I just don't want to appear as a new soldier with shiny equipment. In addition, does anyone have a link to the complete list of issues equipment for a union infantryman? All help is appreciated.

    Very respectfully
    - Watson Thompson
    Watson Thompson

  • #2
    Re: Cartridge box shoulder strap breast plates.

    Hi, Watson:

    Whatever impression you are doing, take the time to research what would be appropriate for that soldier to wear. Shined brass is ok for a garrison/newly-issued look, but did the unit portrayed have new uniforms, etc?

    Bottom line: Use the history of the unit and the situation to guide the impression. -JML
    Johnny Lloyd
    John "Johnny" Lloyd
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    "Without history, there can be no research standards.
    Without research standards, there can be no authenticity.
    Without the attempt at authenticity, all is just a fantasy.
    Fantasy is not history nor heritage, because it never really existed." -Me


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    • #3
      Re: Cartridge box shoulder strap breast plates.

      Images of United States soldiers from most periods and locations during the war indicate a lot of breastplates being worn. Less hat brass. Of course nothing beats some solid primary sources from the individual unit.
      Pat Brown

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      • #4
        Re: Cartridge box shoulder strap breast plates.

        What has been said covers the brass pretty well and I agree. I do my best to find at least one photo of a soldier in the unit I am portraying for that event to base things like this on. Still taking in consideration time of photo and impression to make some judgement calls. For example when I have done the 17th Michigan in fall 1862 I put it all on the hardee as there is primary accounts thats how they left home and fought at South Mountain. Doing the 24th Michigan at Gettysburg we kept hat brass to a minimum because we couldn't find a record of brass being issued and light brass on the hats was supported in photos.

        For box and breast plates having them on is always the way to go unless you find evidence the impression didn't. Brass was part of the ordnance department. The soldiers didn't "own" it just like the rifle. If it was issued and lost they would/could have to pay for it. So, best not to remove it.

        For your question on issued items. Can you be more specific? Are you looking for issued brass or all things issued.
        Respectfully,

        Jeremy Bevard
        Moderator
        Civil War Digital Digest
        Sally Port Mess

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        • #5
          Re: Cartridge box shoulder strap breast plates.

          I would recommend buying Paul D. Johnsons book Civil War cartridge boxes of the Union Infantryman. It is a wealth of primary source. I agree with the above as a caveat. Brass plates were apart of a full set of accouterments for the patterns 1839-1861 in 1864 there was a pattern change to an embossed U.S. on the cartridge box and a deletion of the Brass eagle for the should belt along with the shoulder belt being narrowed from 2.25 inches to 2.0 inches. So unit time period really plays a role as many guys have found was it issued by the State? Where anything and everything in infinite weird combinations. Or was it issued by the Govt'? Where you would see more standardized patterns as a rule. I personally shine my Brass at the end of summer in preparation to come out of Winter encampment in the late winter early spring and let it tarnish for the rest of the season. I do this bearing in mind that Dress parade was a pretty much everyday occurrence while in camp unless detailed. Paul Johnsons book IMHO is the best $40 I have spent in the hobby. As a leather nerd it is truly a work of Awesome.
          Mike Brase
          Proprietor
          M.B. Young and Co.
          One of THEM!
          Member Company of Military Historians

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          • #6
            Re: Cartridge box shoulder strap breast plates.

            Thank you for the wealth of information gentlemen. You answered my question very quickly. And Mr. Bevard I am looking for all things issued. My 2 buddies and I have done Union artillery for years, I have many fond memories of fun events and the great people I've gotten to know. That being said it didn't take but a few events as a youth to tell me that the artillery is farby land. We got involved with the infantry last spring and love it. We are usually walk ins to campaigner events so we don't really have a unit nor do we want one. We enjoy the freedom of attending any event regardless of unit participation. We are national guardsmen and work in the natural gas industry so there are many events that we cannot make, so for us joining a unit would be impractical. Should we still pick a unit to model? 2 of us have CS richmond rifle muskets so if asked at a late waf event we usually say we are privates from the 26th pa whom it was recorded dropped their Austrian Lorenz muskets in favor of the springfield a carried by the opposition at gettysburg, some of which were richmonds. In the end were are just looking to go out, have a great time, and be as accurate as possible.

            Watson Thompson
            Watson Thompson

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            • #7
              Re: Cartridge box shoulder strap breast plates.

              If you are looking to portray "issue" or "generic" Federals then captured or battlefield pick up arms would be the exception. Can't go wrong with a '61 Springfield or '53 Enfield, but I recognize cost may preclude owning multiple muskets.

              Stay generic and use what was most commonly issued to Union troops and this will give you greater flexibility to attend events that interest you while still maintaining the high standards people expect.
              Last edited by Ambrose Bierce; 12-24-2014, 01:33 PM.
              Ivan Ingraham
              AC Moderator

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