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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 4:43 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:18 am
Posts: 162
Friends,

I recently added to my collection a cdv of three officers, one of whom I believe is Jacob McClure, captain of Company D 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters. The most striking detail is a 3/4 view of his tall leather leggings which clearly show, without a doubt, the number of buckles/straps used, their arrangement at the opening of the leggings, and the shape and type of buckles used. They have six buckles/straps up the side and one underfoot, the straps are sewn to the inside of the legging instead of on the outside as seen in the majority of reproductions, and the buckles are most likely a tall rectangular center-bar in raw steel or brass with wire tongues.

Also of interest is the fact that this cdv was made using a glass-plate negative, the only evidence of which being the way the coats button and the scratching of the emulsion that transferred to the paper print. Any "right-read" oriented photograph of the period will show buttons on the viewer's left and buttonholes on the right however the wet plate photography process will reverse the image in ambrotypes and tintypes. Cartes de visite were made right-read during the sitting unless a glass plate negative was used as seen here.

If the attribution is correct then the other two officers may be (from left) 2nd Lt. Daniel Cummings and 1st Lt. Silas Barker who held those ranks while McClure was captain. The back mark is a mid to late war Brady/NY/Washington imprint different from those found on early war USSS prints made by Brady but it's likely that the original negative was stored at his studio and used to make this cdv later.

I am happy to share this with members of the forum and as always I encourage comments, discussion, and questions. ***EDIT: My previous watermarked image links did not work so hopefully these do. If you would like to share or publish the images please send me a PM and ask first as it is from my personal collection. Thank you!***

Overview.
Image

Detail of leggings.
Image

Cropped detail oriented to "right read" for comparison to a signed cdv of Capt. McClure
Image

_________________
Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
http://www.wwandcompany.com
----------------------------------
Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:42 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 253
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Brian,

Great photograph essay. What I am still puzzling over is how the straps attahced to the leather body? I still have my Winchester Sulter leggins that are cut down to 7 straps (based on Co. B 1st USSS research circa 1995); and both sets of straps are sewn onto the exterior. I don't see this feature on McClure's leggings--they appear to be nearly seamless to the body. Looking at the image makes me wonder there are small slits that allow for the strap to fit thru (the base of the strap is sewn to the interior of the legging). This raises more questions, since the strap base would likely bulge slightly and cause friction between it and the trouser fabric.

From our private conversations, McClure's leggings match the USQM issue leggings specs. But I wonder if officers, required to purchase their own uniforms, might also 'private purchase' leggings from a commercial concern instead of buying them from the US Govt QM? Granted Trepp and other officers memoirs mention them ordering and paying for US issue uniform and other accoutrements when on campaign (or on the eve of one).

P.S. I have been staring at the object held by the officer on the left of the photo and while it is likely a head covering of some type it is difficult to determine if it is some misshapen hat, wheel cap, or the ugliest officers cap of the War.

Happy New Year.

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad Mess-USSS


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:52 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:18 am
Posts: 162
Bill,

Good questions! The buckles on the leggings are what I believe to be a center-bar type, meaning that within the buckle frame there is an integral bar that the wire tongue is attached to. These buckles are most likely hand-sewn directly to the legging itself. I have no reason to doubt that the leggings in the photograph were made similarly to other surviving (short) leather leggings, so if that is the case then the straps are most probably placed with their grain side to the flesh side of the legging and held in place by two lines of machine stitching as seen in the photo below. This legging is a short variety from the collection of artist/historian Don Troiani; it's construction is straightforward and simple, and the original buckles were even hand-sewn directly to the leather.

Image

Back in 2008 I ran across this entry in "A Directory of American Military Goods Dealers & Makers, 1785-1915" (B. Bazelon & W. McGuinn, 1999): Motsch (Geo.) & Schaffer (Geo.), NYC. Contracted on 3/8/1862 for 800 prs. leggins for Berdan's Regt. of Sharpshooters. (National Archives Record Group 217, Entry 236). It seems that these leggings were intended to be issued to the 2nd USSS since they had 800 enlisted men at the time. This is the only contract for leggings that I am aware of but I am sure that others exist.

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Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
http://www.wwandcompany.com
----------------------------------
Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:02 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:25 pm
Posts: 23
Location: ROCKPORT, MAINE
Brian,

Thank you for sharing this wonderful and most thought provoking photo of Jacob McClure from your collection. You and Bill never fail to come up with interesting discussions and information for the rest of us to ponder.

I have a particular interest in Jacob McClure as he was a resident of my old home town of Rockland, Maine when he went off to war. I have handled his magnificent target rifle which is clearly identified by a silver oval engraved with his name and Co. D, 2nd USSS mounted on the stock. His correspondence with Maine's governor (original letters reside at the Maine State Archives) confirm that he allowed that precision weapon to be used by individual recruits during their qualification shooting trials. This weapon currently belongs to a gentleman in New Hampshire who I will not name. Jacob McClure was assigned the mid-coast, central and eastern sections of the State of Maine as his recruiting area. Thus it is no surprise that his home town of Rockland was well represented in the company. It should be noted that by July 1,2, & 3 of 1863 of the original 99 members of Co. "D" who had left the Pine Tree State on November 13, 1861, only 34 were still present for duty at Gettysburg. Of these 34, 12 were from Rockland.

James Fessenden, son of Mane's Senator William Pitt Fessenden, was appointed by the governor to oversee the overall formation of the company which was to consist of three officers and 97 men. For whatever reason, the final tally was three officers and 96 enlisted men. In his early correspondence with the governor, Fessenden states that he is having a considerable amount of trouble in getting qualified marksmen from the western part of the state due to a lack of guns of sufficient quality with which to test the recruits' marksmanship skills.

Although we would love to claim him as a "native" Mainiac, Jacob McClure was born in Ohio. This fact was confirmed by a recently uncovered document at the Rockland, Maine Historical Society. This document was a sort of "census" record of the male population of Rockland done as of January 1, 1863 and was a door to door poll conducted by an individual contracted by the city. The note book used reveals a lot of interesting information including listing soldiers home recovering from wounds and those individuals who were considered unfit for service due to an interesting array of excuses.

Thanks to Bonnie's research on New Hampshire Sharpshooters a couple of years or so ago, Jacob's last resting place was finally "discovered" in a Nashua, NH cemetery. A McClure descendant, then still living in Rockland, had told me that none of the relatives that he had contacted knew of the location of Jacob's remains. He was apparently buried there as Nashua was his wife's hometown.

Now for more questions for our experts. Please elaborate, if you will, on the uniforms of the three officers pictured. It seems obvious to me that McClure's short jacket in this photo is not the same coat that he was wearing for the signed CDV portrait that resides in the collection of the Maine State Archives. What color would the stripes on his trousers be? Are all three officers wearing shiny brass buttons or is that just a photographic effect?

I was told by the current owner of Jacob's fine target rifle that back in the 1970's Jacob McClure's wartime diary was sold through an ad in Shotgun News. What a treasure that would be to uncover!

Thanks again for sharing such an interesting photo of the "real deal" and thanks for the information on Jacob's jaunty leggings. No mention was made of the cool, almost wild west looking, spurs. I am sure that they are a story in themselves.

_________________
Captain Dave Sulin
Rockport, Maine
"Mind your helm"


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