Amount of Buckles on Leggings?
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Author:  KangViper [ Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Amount of Buckles on Leggings?

After Dave mentioned that American Civil War Knapsacks were going to offer Sharpshooter Leggings. I was going to purchase them since I need a pair. So after a couple days of waiting for some photos to appear on their website, I notice in the photo that they had reproduce leggings with only 5 straps down the side.

From looking at period photos of Berdan's wearing leggings, I swear that I always counted 8 side straps and 1 under the arch of the foot.

My questions is how many side straps were there on the leggings?

Author:  BrianTWhite [ Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amount of Buckles on Leggings?

I haven't seen an original pair of USSS leggings in any public or private collection BUT there is a single tall legging with infantry provenance owned by Don Troiani. I believe this legging is roughly 16 inches tall with four buckles on the side. This does not mean that the USSS leggings were identical but likely similar. I have, however, studied a pair of short leather leggings from the same collection; these were very lightweight, very thin oiled leather, machine-sewn leggings with four buckles on the side. They gave me a good idea of pattern and how the USSS leggings might have been constructed.

There was also a very good mathematical study of original USSS images that I believe Mike Tita conducted (someone correct me if I'm wrong!). He used known constant proportions of the Sharps rifles in the images and calculated the approximate height of leggings being worn in the same photo. If memory serves the height he got was 16 inches. He also carefully looked at the visible tips of some of the straps that were curled towards the front of the leggings; using the same constant measurements he figured that the leggings most likely had approximately SIX buckles/straps up the side.

I know there's a lot of speculation in this area; I've heard everything from seven to twelve buckles and I've actually seen a reproduction pair that had SIXTEEN buckles!!! If you think about such high numbers of buckles/straps and consider period manufacturing techniques, cost of leather/hardware, cost of labor, number of leggings being supplied to the Army, you might start to realize that the people making the leather leggings probably did not want to overburden themselves with up to 32 buckles/straps per pair. Enormous contracts for leather and cloth leggings were let in the winter of 1862-1863; the plan was to issue them to every regiment in the Army of the Potomac....although only tens of thousands were supplied (mostly to the III and V Corps in early 1863), such a high output of leggings in a relatively short time dictated their simple construction and pattern.

Author:  KangViper [ Wed Dec 10, 2008 8:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Amount of Buckles on Leggings?

So what we really have are a set of guidelines that we can stay between, since we have no actual documented pair of Berdan Leggings to look at?

Why do you think that it has been so hard to find an issue pair to them? Just because they discarded them early, or didn't think they were important? Just shooting out idea's. But I have seen a couple of Berdan Reenactors wear the 5 side strap leggings at events and in photo. I did see that Dixie Leatherworks offer the 5 side strap Berdan Leggings too. It's just that I was use to seeing 8 and I thought that was the correct number. So I second guessed about buying a pair from ACW Knapsacks.

Author:  cmcelhose [ Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amount of Buckles on Leggings?

BrianT and all,

Mike Tita and I were working on the study together, though I wrote the majority of it and did all of the mathmatical legwork (no pun intended). He and I recently talked about the need to work on it further and compile more evidence since neither of us has done anything on it in about a year. Note that I did more than just comparisons with Sharps but also used other known info as well.

The results I came out with mathematically were:

(6 Straps @ 0.75”) + (5 Separations @ 2”) + 1.5” (from 1st strap (lower end) to the bottom) =
4.5” + 10.0” + 1.5” = 16.0” in length from top to longest point at the bottom where the understrap attaches.

I may post the document for viewing/download once I work out more details and compile additional photos that can confirm what we determined thus far.

Corporal Charles McElhose Jr.
Co C, 2nd USSS

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