to sling or not to sling ...that is the question
Page 1 of 1

Author:  paul packrat lopes [ Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:49 am ]
Post subject:  to sling or not to sling ...that is the question

Gentlemen. Would it be correct to add a sling to my Sharps? I haven't noticed that many in Company photos, And if it would be acceptable can someone offer the specs so I can make one. Thanks to all YHS Paul Lopes

Author:  Bill Skillman [ Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: to sling or not to sling ...that is the question

Mr. Lopes and fellow Sharpshooters

One way to answer your question is to ask what period of service are you looking to represent as a Sharpshooter? Based upon your level of interest and pursuit of historical accuracy, this can guide your impression. For my money, if you have access to the Archives you can obtain the Ordnance records for the particular company that you represent. Why Ordnance records???

Ordance represents all of the rifles, cartridge/cap boxes, associated belts (cartbox straps), US/Eagle plates, bayonets/scabbards, ammunition, pellet primers and caps issued to the various companies during their time of service. Every company officer had to file a return of the arms and material carried by the men in his command every quarter. If new or replacement arms/material was needed, the officer needed to file a requisition with the regimental commander; who would forward it to the division Ordnance officer. He in turn would send the paperwork up the chain to the Arsenal. To issue new material, the process would be reversed. Upon recieving the new Ordnance, the company commander would fill out a reciept showing that he actually got the stuff.

The reason for the long winded explanation is, if you have access to your State archives sometimes this material can be located there. I was fortunate to discover the records for the Vermont Company 'F' 1st USSS while under the command of Capt. Merriman covering from Dec 1863 to the company's muster out in Sept 1864. Likewise, Rob Leinwebber sent me the collected papers of Caspar Trepp, during his tenure between Dec 1862 and Sept 1863 (last paperwork; he was KIA at Mine Run in November). For these two periods and officers, one can gain a very good insight into the number of arms and equipment issued. Also, the Sharpshooters of 1864 were significantly less 'stract' than when under Trepp's supervision. With Trepp--every Sharpshooter was issued with a full compliment of equipment--except, surprisingly, the brass eagle plate (called the cartridge box shoulder belt plate). Reissues of equipment throughout 1863 showed Trepp expected the 1st USSS to comply with Ordnance regulations--even bayonets were replaced when damaged or lost.

Merriman's papers show that fewer men were carrying bayonets or slings (aka rifle straps); more men were wearing cartridge boxes on their waist belts than using the cartridge box straps. The majority (if not all) men were wearing blouse--only one regulation coat issued from Dec 63-Sept 64.

The nice thing about a sling is that you can choose to put one on or take it off. This can depend upon your company commander combined with the event. This is not to say that soldiers sometimes lost equipment or used them for purposes other than issued (ie, field expedient belt); but they needed to have them at the end of the 3 month period or be docked for the cost of the lost item.

Great little book, if your into the stuff I've described above is Gen. Kautz's The Company Clerk a sort of a everything you wanted to know on how to equip and feed an army

Bill Skillman
Randolph Mess-USSS

Author:  NearSighted [ Sun Jul 11, 2010 10:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: to sling or not to sling ...that is the question

My rifle does have a sling, but I can say honestly that the only reason I have it is because when we do events for the National Parks one of their requirements is that we have to "maintain control" over the weapon at all times. Holding onto the sling allows us to do so.

Author:  BrianTWhite [ Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: to sling or not to sling ...that is the question


I checked my USSS photo database and found that the majority of portraits of sharpshooters with their Sharps rifles have them with slings attached. There seems to be a larger number of men in the 1st Regiment displaying rifles with slings; I have six photos of Sharps-armed 1st Regt. men and every rifle has a sling. Of the eight photos of 2nd Regiment men armed with Sharps, two have slings on their rifles. A sampling of eight unidentified sharpshooters with their Sharps rifles shows that only one man has a sling on his rifle. These images range from Spring/Summer 1862 to early 1864.

And below you will find a link to a document being sold by a dealer/collector in Ohio. While it lists nine new Sharps rifles, slings are completely absent.


Author:  lastchip [ Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: to sling or not to sling ...that is the question

Does anyone happen to know, where to buy a proper sling for a civil war area sharps? Or is that just a bit to much of a specialty item to hope anyone reproduces?


Author:  Calum [ Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: to sling or not to sling ...that is the question


Seems to me that I saw somebody offering Sharps slings, but for the life of me I cannot remember who at the moment.

From experience, Springfield slings are too short. Enfield slings are a tad long, but work fine.


Author:  lastchip [ Sun Sep 02, 2012 11:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: to sling or not to sling ...that is the question



Lord, I love the Interent..

Author:  Bill Skillman [ Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: to sling or not to sling ...that is the question

Fellow Sharpshooters,

Unless anybody else can provide alternative information, my research indicates that rifle slings manufactured for US military were issued in RUSSET color, they were not dyed black like the other accoutrements (waist belt, cartridge box, ditto belt, cap pouch and scabbard). By 1862 contractors were required to stamp their names on leather accoutrements (Storms, Gaylord, etc.). Since there doesn't appear to be any information about who manufactured Sharps slings it is fine to for yours to be unmarked. Roy Marcot hypothesized that the 'Pattern 1862 Sharps cartridge box' was made by Emerson Gaylord (who was on the board of directors of the Sharps Mfg. Co.); but Roy or none of the researchers who published articles about the boxes report them being stamped with contractors mark. Sharps slings are even more rare and unreported. Since the Spencer repeater was the same size and general configuration as the Sharps infantry rifle, slings were made for them as well, but who the manufacturer(s) was is unknown at this time.

It is easy to get confused after 150 years. The Springfield I inherited from my late uncle came with a sling that was BLACK--but when I gently removed it because of crazing (skin surface cracking) at the stress points where it looped over the sling bar, I found the leather to be a dull brown color. Being exposed to wood smoke (the rifle hung over the fireplace for 40 years), dust, grease and black powder residue, the leather slowly accumulated layers of debris until it looked black.

I'm sure if you email Dell or call him, he would be happy to make you up a sling that is the correct russet color. Believe me, after a few seasons in the field (sweaty hands, black powder, bacon grease, dirt/grim) your sling will gradually change from russet to a very dark brown. Add another 100 years and you'll likely have a sling equally as black as the one on display.

Keep in mind that leather is skin. It needs to be cleaned and treated from time to time with 'conditioner'. I use 'sweet oil' (olive oil) by putting some on both hands and rubbing the length (this also causes the leather to darken) of the sling. I pay attention to the critical areas where the sling is folded over and rubs against the sling rings. With really poor/old leather I use Pecards dressing (is a lanolin based paste). This will preserve the life of your accoutrements for years to come.

Hope this helps.

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad Mess

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group