Reference Items
Accoutrements
General Officer's Dress Belt

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This officer’s dress belt is ornamented with three rows of gold bullion embroidery on Russian leather as prescribed for general officers. Each dead bullion row is ¼" wide with a space of 3/16”.  The overall width of the belt is 1¾” and its length is 38½” from plate to keeper. At the buckle is a leather keeper with a single ¼” bullion strand.  The saber straps are 24¼" and 10¼” long respectively; both also have three rows of bullion embroidery.  However, the bullion on the straps is 3/16” wide and separated by ⅛”.  The brass clasps and buckles on both straps are functional and original, with the straps reinforced with a leather support and four rows of stitching.   The straps are designed so that the tongue of the strap shields the leather holder from view.  

 The right-handed cast brass plate is gilded and of the 1851 Pattern similar to plate #645 in the reference work American Military Belt Plates by O’Donnell & Campbell.  It is of the finest workmanship.  The integral motif is a right facing eagle with standard shield bearing vertical and horizontal lines.  Its lengthy wings reach almost to the border of the plate frame. The laurel wreath extends above its wingtips.  Eight stars rest above the banner with an additional three at the eagle’s left shoulder and two at its right.  Rays extend above the stars but are not present on the sides of the wreath and there are no clouds present.  The background of the plate is stippled in fine detail. The wreath below the eagle’s wingtips, each of the stars, and the face of the text "E Pluribus Unum” in the banner are all highlighted with German silver.  The high points on the eagle’s wings, head and knees show slight wear. The belt plate tongue is applied and both the plate and keeper are benchmarked "14.”

The belt was originally purchased from the family of General Isaac Sheppard who served on the staff of General Lyon at the time he was killed at Wilson’s Creek.  Sheppard went on to command the 3rd Missouri Infantry in 1862 and the 51st U. S. Colored Infantry in May 1863.  He survived the war and did foreign service for the U.S. government, eventually settling in Massachusetts.  The belt is a companion to another General Officer’s belt, collection item #065 which was also purchased from Sheppard’s family.


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-302

Stuart Saber Hanger

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Pictured is a rather uncommon accoutrement known as a Stuart saber hanger.  J.E.B. Stuart, while serving as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, won a patent (#25,684 filed on October 4, 1859) for an improved sword hanger which he designed while recuperating from wounds received during a fight with the Cheyenne at Solomon River, Kansas on July 29, 1857.

The detachable saber hanger is suspended from a standard belt, and enables a cavalry trooper or officer to easily remove his sword, scabbard, and belt slings without unhooking the scabbard from his belt assembly and leaving the straps swinging loose at his side. Stuart applied for a contract with the US Army and was paid $5,000 by the Federal government for a "right to use" license.  The US Army authorized manufacture of the device with Frankford Arsenal producing 10,000 in 1864.  Each bears a Frankford Arsenal stamp on the keeper and an Ordnance Department Inspector A. D. Laidley’s stamp on the belt strap. A variant was produced after the war with the Rock Island Arsenal stamp and a shorter brass tongue on the keeper.  Wartime examples of the earlier style brass keepers have been dug in Tennessee.


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-299

General Officer's Fatigue Belt

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This officer’s field belt is ornamented with three rows of embossed gold trim on Russian leather as prescribed for fatigue use by general officers. Top and bottom decorative rows are 3/16” wide and the center design is ¼" wide.  The overall width of the belt is 1⅝” and its length is 41” from plate to keeper, but with size adjuster in place, it is set at a length of 35”.  It is sewn with a center seam at the back over a webbed reinforcing.  There are two leather keepers also trimmed with gold borders.  The saber straps are 23¼" and 9” long respectively, the longer strap having an old repair near the top.  The brass clasps and buckles on both straps are functional and original, with the straps attaching to the belt through a brass loop.  There are some slight separations in the belt body and at the protective tab behind the plate, but the web reinforcing to which the belt is sewn is strong and intact.

The right-handed cast brass plate is gilded and of a pattern similar to the 1851 Plate #645 in the reference work American Military Belt Plates by O’Donnell & Campbell.  It is of very fine workmanship.  The integral motif is a right facing eagle with standard shield bearing vertical and horizontal lines.  The eagle's lengthy wings reach almost to the border of the plate frame. The laurel wreath extends above its wingtips.  Eight stars rest near the banner among clouds, an additional three are at the eagle’s left shoulder and two at its right.  Rays extend above the stars but are not present on the sides of the wreath.  The background of the plate is stippled in fine detail.  The high points on the eagle’s wings show no wear. The belt plate tongue is applied and neither the plate nor keeper is benchmarked.

The belt was originally purchased from the family of General Isaac Sheppard who served on the staff of General Lyon at the time he was killed at Wilson’s Creek.  Sheppard went on to command the 3rd Missouri Infantry in 1862 and the 51st U. S. Colored Infantry in May 1863.  He survived the war and did foreign service for the U.S. government, eventually settling in Massachusetts.  


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-294

Confederate "Rope Border" Plate and Belt

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The Confederate enlistedman’s belt pictured here bears what is known by collectors as a "rope border” plate, receiving its name due to the twisted rope design encircling its inner border.  Likely manufactured in Nashville, Tennessee, the letters "CS” were die stamped onto a thin sheet of brass without use of a counter die, and then three brass hooks were soldered to the back with no lead filling.  The crude hooks which vary from one plate to another are created from excess brass.  This style of plate was issued primarily to Confederate infantrymen serving in the Western theater.

The faces of rope border plates bear block letters in two known patterns, indicating the use of at least two dies at the place of manufacture.  On this pattern, the letters show increased thickness and the inside square serifs on the "S” nearly touch the body of the letter.  The "S” is slightly crooked in its alignment.

Rope border plates are rarely encountered in non-excavated condition.  When seen, they often have been mounted on a Yankee belt, either during their wartime use or by a modern collector.  This plate is on its original russet leather belt.  The leather has a fine line tooled into its upper and lower borders, a characteristic which is never found on Yankee enlistedmen’s examples.  Unlike its Federal counterpart, the leather was never coated and still retains its original russet finish.  The right handed plate has a natural untouched patina and over time has created an outline on the belt, leaving what is termed as a "ghost” of the belt plate.  This indicates long and constant contact between the plate and belt. The initials "VMW” are carved into the belt at the left of the buckle, the owner’s identity having long since been lost to history.  There is also an unusual incision entirely through the leather between the third and fourth holes, yet the leather remains intact and is strong and supple.


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-289

M1858 Smooth Side Canteen - Cavalry

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Model 1858 "smooth side” canteen as issued to Federal troops with a leather attachment strap for fixing to a saddle.  The canteen is approximately 7½” in diameter.  Its metal is solid and its spout is intact, as are all three mounting brackets.  It has a jack chain attached to the strap keeper which fastens the original stopper to the canteen.  The burlap fabric is worn from use.

Of special note is the leather attachment strap with roller buckle at one end which is contemporary to the whole assembly.  The strap is affixed to a metal clasp which suspends the canteen from one of the sidebar rings at the front of the saddle's cantle. 


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-271

U.S. Army Signal Corps Telescope

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During the 1850’s, Captain A. J. Myer of the U.S. Army was responsible for the dramatic increase in the use of optical devices to observe military signal flag communication.  Improved optics such as binoculars and telescopes made it possible to read signals at great distances, thus improving communications on both sides during the Civil War.  Signal officers became a valued source for intelligence through first-hand study of enemy movements or by observation of enemy signal stations while attempting to break codes.  Telescopes were a valued tool and orders were clear that in precarious situations, rather than risk capture of the scope, it was to be destroyed.

Early in the war, most optics were of French manufacture.  A primary maker of telescopes was the firm of Bardou & Sons whose products were imported by James M. Queen of Philadelphia.

This example is a four-draw brass telescope with a 2” objective lens and yields a 30 power magnification.  The two largest tubes were once encased with leather coverings, the front stitched in place, and the second fastened by sixteen brass screws aligned in two parallel columns of eight.  The rear ocular is equipped with a sliding brass dust cover.  The telescope weighs just over three pounds and reaches an impressive 3’1½” when fully extended.  When compacted, it is 10¼” in length.

The smallest tube is marked "Bardou & Son.” in hand engraved script letters.  Centered beneath the Bardou marking is GB in a Roman font, separated by a caduceus with TRADE MARK in block letters centered further below.  Inscribed in a different hand and closer to the rear ocular is "U.S. Army/Signal Telescope.” in script letters.  All markings are inscribed by hand and are original to the telescope.


Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-269

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