Cooking kits on double bags?
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Author:  Calum [ Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:38 am ]
Post subject:  Cooking kits on double bags?

'morning folks,

This is a curiosity question, and I've not been able to find any information on it. I'm hoping that there might be some mention in diaries and such.

As the hair covered knapsacks wore out/were lost, they were often replaced with the standard double bag. Presumably if the Berdan's knapsack was lost, so was the cooking kit. But if the knapsack wore out, was the cooking kit discarded in favor of a more easily carried boiler or canteen half? I doubt it, because from what I've read, the cooking kit seemed to be well respected. If it wasn't discarded, how was it carried? It would be too bulky to carry in the haversack or knapsack. And somehow, because of the shape/bulk, I just can't see buckling it to one of the closure straps to dangle as if it were a tin cup.

Any thoughts appreciated,

Author:  Bill Skillman [ Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cooking kits on double bags?

Cpl. Munro

When I prepare for an event I look for the following research: What were the regimental/brigade/division orders just before a campaign? It was understood by veteran officers and men to strip down their gear to the bare essentials. This was not followed by new officers and green regiments; who often carried a full compliment of uniform and equipment (much to the enjoyment of the veterans who replaced their worn, lousey and soiled clothing/blankets with the green regiments' cast offs)

I then look to see what is practical to carry for any long tramp. Unless you participate in a couple events like the 3rd Corps March (Gburg 05) or Backwaters (TN 2010) it is impossible to learn how to pack like the original campaigners. I now carry items that have multiple purposes; then spare items to spread among my messmates (hatchet, fry pan). Water, food, ammo, spare socks and shirt. I haven't had the courage to cut one of my $150 blankets in half like the original guys did for summer events; but I do leave home the shelter half--the Mess combines our rubber blankets for shelter and find pine trees as field expedient 'tents'.

So, do I still carry my Berdan mess tins? Hardly ever. I have yet to find a convenient way to attach it to the outside of a double bag knapsack--and impossible to pack with 3 days rations in the haversack. I have found a canteen half stuffed inside my haversack and a coffee boiler on the outside is all I need to prepare my coffee and warm food. Granted, I'm campaigning for no more than 72 hours at a time max; but reading the accounts of the orignal guys and experimenting with what I can carry for long distances without turning into a straggler has really helped for those events where 10-11 mile tromps are expected.

Bill Skillman
Randolph Mess

Author:  Calum [ Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cooking kits on double bags?

Thanks sir. Kind of what I thought, but wanted to explore if anyone had evidence to the contrary.


Author:  BrianWhite [ Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cooking kits on double bags?

Bill's got it right; although we can't yet say when the USSS discarded or stopped using their Tiffany & Co. mess kits, it seems that their individual methods of cooking was about homogenized as the rest of the army's was. Two quotes from Stevens' history:

"...notwithstanding the brisk fire under which they advanced none were hurt, but narrowly escaped the fast-flying bullets, one man being saved by his frying pan (for they carried their cooking kit always)..." - Stevens', page 340, describing the "Indian rush" on CS sharpshooters by 20 Michiganders from the 1st USSS, July 3rd 1863.

"...a Swiss member of Company A got the bottom of his frying pan knocked out on the back of his knapsack while faced firing to the left oblique. This made him very mad and he swore a lot of foreign oaths, worse than a trooper. For if there is anything that will make a good soldier swear, it is to lose his cooking kit." - Stevens, page 371, describing the 1st USSS advance at Kelly's Ford, Nov. 7th, 1863.

The usage of the word "kit" in these accounts seems to imply a collection of different cooking utensils/vessels instead of the mess kits that were issued with knapsacks early in their service. From many other sources the word "kit" is also used to describe a complete uniform ("rig" and "suit" also used) or a set of accoutrements/equipments.

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