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 Post subject: Leathers
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 12:44 am 
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Sergeant
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Location: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
I know that U.S. Sharpshooters had a special Leather Set made for them, but what Depot/Maker did it their Leather Sets come from? I don't have access to "Cartridge Boxes of the Union Infantryman" by Paul D. Johnson to see if the information is in there and I've search on the web and couldn't find anything.

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Joseph Edwards
The Deadeye Mess
Company C 2nd United States Sharp Shooters


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 Post subject: Re: Leathers
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:29 am 
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Joseph,

I'm not clear on where the M1862 Sharps cartridge boxes came from. Some have speculated that accoutrements contractor Emerson Gaylord of Chicopee, Mass. may have produced them. I'm looking right at Gaylord's contract information right now and I don't see any number of cart. boxes listed that would have been ordered for the USSS, but my source usually only covers government contracts. If the boxes were purchased by Berdan himself or done on some kind of contract by-state they might not be on record. OR Gaylord just didn't make them, OR the records were lost, etc. etc..

The interesting thing is that these seem to have been issued in conjunction with the Sharps rifles and bayonets/scabbards in spring of 1862 but by the end of that year quartermaster records in certain companies show a mix of Sharps and standard .58 cal. cart. boxes w/straps. In 1863 beyond it looks like a majority of standard issue .58 cal. cartridge boxes.

That reminds me....does anyone here remember the .58 Cal. cartridge box on display at the Antietam visitor center? I remember that it's stuffed with Sharps cartridges and boxes of ammo. A friend of mine from Wisconsin who helped me greatly with research in the past stated once that this cartridge box was found along the Hagerstown Road after the battle. Can anyone verify this??

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Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
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Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters


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 Post subject: Re: Leathers
PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 2:42 pm 
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Location: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
To go along with that, Cartridge Box Straps, were issued and worn. I'm not saying that everybody back them used them, but I notice a lot of people in different Sharpshooter units, especially my old Berdan Unit, not wearing them. Back then they were issued to help take strain off the mid section of the body and to make sure that the belt wasn't all lopsided because of a box full of rounds.

Through my own personal experiance of wearing a strap, while lying down when firing, of having that little bit of length makes me a little more relaxed when grabbing a round for the cartridge box. Instead of trying to reach closer to the mid section to grab a round make it a little uncomfortable for me. It could just be me, but what are everybody elses thoughts on the matter?

Just a little note to add, you do what you want, as I am not trying to judge or be judged myself. For I ask this question to understand and learn more than what I did. It's better to ask then wonder I think. As I said before in many post that I try to make a better understanding of being a U.S. Sharpshooter than I was before.

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Joseph Edwards
The Deadeye Mess
Company C 2nd United States Sharp Shooters


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 Post subject: Re: Leathers
PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 9:06 am 
In early photos of Berdan's men you see them from when they were carrying the colts. Once they were issued the sharps, photos seem to show them with and without. Given that sharpshooters were so individualistic, I would suspect that it was just one of those things that may have varied based on individual preference or perhaps on company preference since the companys were coming from different areas. I would theorize a more veteran sharpshooter for instance may not want the additional shine of the breast plate for example, so as to be a less easy target for a confederate SS. On the otherhand perhaps the veteran would want the weight support as you suggest. The reasons for such variations are not fully clear to me yet, but I can say with certainty I have seen photos with and without.


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 Post subject: Re: Leathers
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:57 am 
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Location: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
That's one thing I like about asking questions, is to hear what others think and know.

The one thing that I forget about the Sharpshooters. They were different from everybody else in so many ways. As you stated that the preferences based on individual or company can vary more so that a regular infantry company. I also forgot that the Sharps Cartridge Box didn't have the proper holding straps and buckles for the sling.

It's just to bad that they were wasting brass and lead for the breast plate. When it had no function but a ornament since it's previous use was on the sling to carry the scabbard for the bayonet. It was a good thing that they took the brass off the 1864 pattern leathers.

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Joseph Edwards
The Deadeye Mess
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 Post subject: Re: Leathers
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:55 pm 
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I love coming home to Cincinnati but I absolutely hate being here when visiting because my entire research library is back in Michigan!!!!

Wiley Sword's book about the Sharpshooters contains reference to breast plates and box plates being completely absent on the accouterments of many Sharpshooters, even to the level of entire companies. I really wish I could provide the hard data but maybe someone here can if they get a chance!!! Photographs of armed and equipped sharpshooters dating to the first quarter of 1863 (the "US Picture Tent" images especially) show them almost wholly without breastplates.

Whether it was a company or individual decision to remove the plates we must remember that the U.S. Sharpshooters were still volunteers serving under the same regulations and rules as the rest of the army. If a man was missing a plate at an inspection he would be docked the cost of the plate from his monthly pay. Same goes for unauthorized alterations on clothing and other gear. This exact thing happened in 1862 when the Sharpshooters were literally throwing away their bayonets; Berdan claimed "no knowledge" of having ever told the men before enlisting that they would not use bayonets (a symbol of the infantry to the men, it seems).

With Lt. Col. Caspar Trepp seemingly cracking the whip on the 1st U.S.S.S. in 1863 it seems unlikely that the decision to not use plates was a regimental order. Of course.....we can never say never....something to the contrary might pop up tomorrow!

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Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
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Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters


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 Post subject: Re: Leathers
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 8:21 pm 
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This is another thing that you might want to take into consideration. I'm going to preface this by saying THIS is AN OPINION. The breastplate might have been accepted by some as a necessary evil to be dulled when going into combat, but accepted along with the straps as it allowed for additional opportunity to add foliage to themselves when skirmishing.

EDIT: In hindsight (being a perfect 20/20) this is an unlikely reason as there are only VERY limited stories of natural camoflage being used by except the American Indian soldiers in the USSS.

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Pvt. Jeremiah Boring
Company B, 1st USSS Regt.


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 Post subject: Re: Leathers
PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:11 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:50 am
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Location: KOP, PA
Does anyone have excellent personal experiences with accurate reproductions of the 1862 Sharps Cart. Boxes and accompanying leather? I'm looking to put together a USSS set of leathers. Also, can someone post a picture of how the ammunition sits in those wooden blocks?

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Pvt. Jeremiah Boring
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