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 Post subject: Bread and ammo boxes
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:48 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:03 am
Posts: 12
I am making a Union Mechanical Bread Box to keep my gear in while in the field. I have the plans for the box, but am in need of a stencil pattern for the top. Can anyone help me out where I can buy one? Also, does anyone know of any Sharps ammo box plans out there?


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 Post subject: Re: Bread and ammo boxes
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:41 am 
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Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 7:38 am
Posts: 96
'morning,

There have been multiple threads on the Szabo forum regarding stencils, but this one (www.cwreenactors.com/forum/showthread.p ... ht=stencil) specifically has an indivudual who has made them. I don't know if he still has any, or what they looked like.

I've seen plans for .58 and .69 cartridge boxes, but am drawing a blank on where. Probably also on the Szabo forum, or possibly the Authentic Campaigner. I don't usually have much luck with phrasing searches, so came up blank (or rather, too many results) when I tried.

Calum

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Calum Munro

40th PVI, 11th Reserves, Co F
http://www.facebook.com/reserve.companyf

1st USSS, Co H
http://nyberdans.wix.com/nyberdans


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 Post subject: Re: Bread and ammo boxes
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:39 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 253
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Mr. Riddell and Fellow Sharpshooters.

You are taking me back to my early days in the hobby. I bought the Mechanical Bakery kit that featured a large file-folder weight stensil with the company logo on it. I got the 3/4 inch pine boards, a stock of square cut nails and assembled the box (be sure to first drill the holes where you are going to hammer in the square cut nails--this keeps the wood from splitting, add wood glue). I hauled my box to the first event I attended and discovered what an ungodly bulky beast it was--I could barely lift it from the Jeep to the campsite, and when I put it under the shelter tent it took up more room than me. The old box now resides (fillled with burlap sacks-used for sandbags from a 2005 Petersburg event)-in the alcove of my garage.

I had enough wood left over to make a smaller "from home" box complete with a repop Adams Express reciept on the top (made by Sullivan Press). While smaller-it was still bulky and heavy carrying any distance. I used it to pack treats like cigars, tobacco, sausages, smoked and cheese wheels, molassus cookies, candles and WW&Co. cotton socks to unveil during our spring Camps of Instruction. The 'box from home' around the campfire on Saturday evening after drills was a favorite of the boys, who recieved the gifts with the same enthusiasm as the original volunteers. But I had long before learned to stop taking it to 'campaign' events with me.

After my first events lugging the 'white elephant' I discovered that unless I drove my Jeep right up to where I was going to camp and unload, the elephant was getting to be a damn nusiance. I read how the original volunteers camped, marched and fought and really began to look at my own weekend kit and wondered why I couldn't do the same thing. I also started hanging out with guys who felt the same way--this helped us organize a 'Mess' and whatever 'extras' we wanted to carry to an event we'd split amongst us. After a couple years, I completely stripped down the vast majority of junk I would carry to the most basic load possible: food, ammo/caps, spare shirt/socks, cleaning kit, extra laces and hemp twine, pocket knife, pipe/tobacco/matchcase, lump of soap/towel. These would be stowed in the knapsack along with wool and rubber (or painted) blankets.

The Co. B boys use .58 caliber boxes painted olive green and stensiled with the "1000 Sharps 52/100 cal." logo. They are much smaller and easier to carry; and they have the advantage that you can carry all your extra rounds in them.

I'll see if I can find the old Mechanical Bakery Stensil-it was banging around my basement for years, it looks so good that I've never had the heart to throw it away. You would need to cut out the black lettering--but if I can find it I'll be happy to pass it on.

Hope this helps

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad Mess


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 Post subject: Re: Bread and ammo boxes
PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:34 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 253
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Fellow Sharpshooters;

I have found a nice image on the Shorpy website showing Capt. JW Forsythe, Provost Marshal of Aquia Creek (a major US supply depot just east of Fredricksburg) posing before a huge stack of hardtack boxes. The one he is sitting on has the stenseling "Army Bread------Machanical Baking Co." The reproduction stensil was created (with instructions on how to recreate the box) in the 1990's. The image should give you a good idea of the dimensions of the original box and how they were made.

http://www.shorpy.com/node/9477

There is a fascinating 'USSS connection' behind the hardtack story. If you read Marcot's book (or the US Pat. office records) you will learn that it was Hiram Berdan who invented (or modified to make practicable) the equipment that the mechanical bakeries used to churn out millions of hardtack for the troops. I don't know if he was paid royalties from the machinery manufacturers and bakeries who used his invention.

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad Mess-USSS


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 Post subject: Re: Bread and ammo boxes
PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:03 am
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I have found other stencils, but the one in the pic is what I want. I am going to modify my box with rope handles, I know it is not period, but maybe the guys put them on after their proper use to help move them.


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 Post subject: Re: Bread and ammo boxes
PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:28 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 253
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Marc,

The original boxes were just as you see them in the photo. There are other pictures on the Library of Congress website as well. I recall one 'mountain' of stacked hardtack boxes 30 feet tall on a rail siding. Much like the lumbering photos from my neck of the wood, the sheer breath and height of the stacked hardtack boxes was amazing. They were built (if you increase the size of the photo you can see how 'rough' the wood is) to simply get a product from point A to point B. Once the boxes were off-loaded from a railroad siding, they'd be transferred to Quartermaster wagons who broght the food to the Corps>division>brigade>regimental>company commissary NCO's who then pried open the tops and issued them to the men. There was no modifications made to the boxes whatsoever--once the contensts were removed they were converted to firewood, field expedient shelves (inside soldier winter shelters), headstones, or a variety of other uses.

One of my 'magic moments' during Recon 2 occurred when my Wolverine comrades were ordered to march to the commissary and get the rations for the company. Once we reached the depot, Dan gave the Commissary Sgt. a copy of our company's roster (detailing number of men present), then the Sgt. calculated the number of rations we were to recieve. He then ordered his men to dump crackers, pork, coffee and sugar (I also seem to recall radishes, that nobody ate) onto our open rubber blankets. The coffee and sugar was uncermoniously dumped into Brian and another comrade's haversacks, near to bursting. We shouldered our burdens and started our trudge back to camp but the combined weight really wore us down--lots of stops, little headway--even more grumbling. Fortunately, a passing wagon slowed to make room for our heaviest rations until we reached 200 yards from camp, where we 'muled it' the rest of the way.

How to distribute rations? If you read John Billing's book Hardtack and Coffee you know exactly what to do--unfortunately, I seemed to be the only one who read the chapter about rations. So I organized the detail by putting out rubber blankets with stacks of 10 crackers per man; Brian, Dan and another comrade cut the meat into 1.5 pound blocks and stacked them beside the crackers. The coffee and sugar was put into 35 orderly little piles. Then the men lined up with haversacks while the Orderly Sgt. called out the names of the men (alphabetically) to proceed down the line as we doled out their rations. Of course, we had to endure the good-natured grumbling about the quality of the meat, the coffee and other complaints. Fortunately, not everybody took their sugar ration, so the Mess got to enjoy 'sugar crackers' (a field expedient form of sugar cookie/donut) for desert.

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad Mess


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