16th Tennessee Volunteer
Clothing, Arms and Equipment
Part 3 Equipment
Josiah Gorgas, Chief of Confederate Ordnance, recalled that due to an 'almost
absolute lack of india rubber, extensive
use was made of heavy cotton cloth, for some purposes in double or quadruple
thicknesses heavily stitched together, treated with one or more coats of drying
oil. Sheets of such cloth were issued to the men in the field for sleeping
on damp ground, and belts, bridle reins and cartridge-boxes were made in the
whole or in part of the same material.'
At Big Shovel Mountain, (West) Virginia, 11 October 1861 the men had 'nothing
but one blanket.' 'many one of our boys now have....
a nice rubber cloth.' ' also a pair or
more of Small Tent Cloths.' es deep. It
is quite cold. We drew some tents after night.'
Boots (brogans) or 'Shoes' as Americans usually called boots with laces
U.S. M 1851 Jefferson Brogans were ankle-high, with square toes; two or three lace holes, and no eyelets, with sewn or pegged soles, others were, and English imports. (The American pattern differed from the English in the sole being of one piece that wrapped around the heel. The English imported pattern saw this piece made of three pieces). They were usually black, although they could be found in a reddish-brown. There were never enough boots to keep the troops supplied with footwear, and most were of poor quality.
On the 16 Sept 16 1861 while in (West) Virginia the Regiment arrived at Big Spring around noon, very fatigued, and 'several of the men barefooted' later while in the area 'day after day we marched over muddy roads and snow covered mountains, sometimes barefoot.'
The Cumberland River is crossed on the 20 October 1862 and 'The river is so small here that we crossed it with our shoes on and without getting our feet wet.'
Confederate troops were always short of footwear, Joe Johnston once remarked 'the want of shoes is painful to see even in this mild weather...' At times men went to the 'slaughter pens, secured the hides that came off the beeves killed for the army, then make the moccasins for their feet by taking the green hide' they then made their own footwear. Even so many times their 'feet, (were) rapped in rags'.
While marching back from the Battle of Nashville Carroll H. Clark, 16th Tennessee, met 'A good old man in Georgia (who) gave me a hat and pair of shoes'.
The 13th November 1864 this from Thomas Head 'many of the men were barefooted.' Ressinor Etter noted 'The men are in destitute circumstances, many barefooted.'
Etter again in late December 1864: 'it snowed very hard and the ground was hard froze my feet suffered much as I was barefooted.'
North Carolina, January 1865: 'I had to resort(?) to it to save my feet by tearing off strips, (from his tentage and) wrap around my feet and repeat when absolutely necessary.'
Uniform buttons vary depending on the period of the war. Until spring 1862, captured Federal, coin type flat buttons or wooden buttons dominated. From spring 1862, Confederate and blockade run English buttons start to become more common, with cast block I in red or yellow brass being the most common in the Western theatre. But as can be seen above 4 out of 5 surviving Tennessee jackets have US buttons, and many photos of the period show that eagle buttons were routinely used by the CS quartermaster probably much more frequently than is currently thought.
The buttons on jackets varied from five to nine, although eight has been claimed for the Army of Tennessee. But I and CSA buttons were fairly rare, especially in the Army of Tennessee, hence there value on the collectors market. Its claimed that the Tennessee State buttons available now were never issued and that a locally made design featuring storm clouds, the sun, and a landscape was used.
Shirt, drawers, and waistcoat, buttons were wood, bone, glass and mother of pearl.
The most common belt buckle type was the open frame buckle or 'Georgia frame buckle', due to its simplicity and its sparing use of brass. The most common of these were the 'two-toothed' variety, but variants such as the 'forked tongue' and 'u-tongue' were also produced. In two of the existing Regimental photos where the buckles can be seen, 7 and 8, both are wearing roller type buckles.
The most common decorative plates worn by members of the Army of Tennessee were the cast CSA 'Atlanta style', more reddish brass; others were oval shaped, especially in Tennessee regiments; and the CS clipped corner. A few pewter plates, that were unique to the Army of the Tennessee, were also made. The more fancy types often worn by officers or NCO's, the two piece wreath buckles and maybe imported British 'Snake Buckles' but they would be rare.
Early in the war some troops put their Regimental number and Company letter on their slough hats and kepis so that if they were killed their would be an idea of who they were. As the war progresses into 1863 any numbers or letter that were worn would have been removed due to the possibility of sharpshooters (snipers) being about.
Breast and box plate were not worn in the Army of Tennessee.
Regulations stated that Confederate troops were to be issued with knapsacks. These were to be marked with 1.5" high regimental numbers, with the company letter and soldiers number on the inside. This was to be in white for infantry. Regardless to regulations inventory and photographs show around 30-40%, had knapsacks with the majority carrying blanket rolls of some description.
Those that were carried were either captured Mexican war pattern; the US issue M1851 double bag; US issue M1853 single bag; imported British army issue; or Confederate army issue. Many early war soldiers carried homemade ones similar to these mentioned above although some were of leather.
When going to leave Camp Trousdale 'on the 21st of July we packed our knapsacks'.
While on the march from Millborough, VA, 8 Aug 1861 they lost 'much of our camp equipage and clothing, such as tents, cooking utensils, knapsacks etc.'
31 August 1862 and 'It was very steep my knapsack is heavy.'
11 Sep 1861 'my feet slipped, down I went astride the log. My knapsack & gun unbalanced me...'
On 12 Sep 1861 the men 'began to throw down their knapsacks....' also 'with knap and haversacks well packed and ready for the march.'
The march from Little Sewell, VA, to Dublin Depot, October 1861, troops crossed a river 'stripped to the waist...with knapsacks....upon their shoulders.'
On the 27 June 1862 'Knapsacks are drawn for the companies and distributed.'
On the 7 October 1862: 'Previous to leaving camps we got orders to leave our knapsacks.'
Even as late as December 1864 reasonably large quantities knapsacks were still being issued to the Army of Tennessee, although it has been stated that they were thrown away at the first opportunity this doesn't seem to be the case.
'In our knapsacks were carried a fatigue jacket, several pairs of white gloves, several pairs of drawers, several white shirts, undershirts, linen collars, neckties, white vests, socks, etc.... Strapped on the outside were one or two blankets, an oilcloth, and extra shoes.' They could weigh between 30 to 50 pounds.
For a great many 'it was inconvenient to 'change' the underwear too often, and the disposition not to change grew, as the knapsack was found to gall the back and shoulders, and weary the man before half the march was accomplished. The better way was to dress out and out, and wear that outfit until the enemy's knapsacks, or the folks at home supplied a change.'
Those who abandoned their knapsacks usually put their spare clothing into a blanket that was rolled and worn bandolier-fashion over the left shoulder, the ends tied together at the right hip. Although many men used their knapsack throughout the war.
Confederate issue was made of thin cotton fastened with one or more buttons of either pewter, wood, or bone, but could have a roller buckle. Confederate issue was 'cotton duck', although some tarred ones were produced. Captured black, tarred, US issue was preferred as they were waterproof and closed with a buckle. Inside was a separate food bag affixed by buttons to the outer bag.
These were issued in huge numbers to the Army of Mississippi/Tennessee throughout the war even into late December 1864, with just about everyone having one.
When leave Camp Trousdale they 'filled our haversacks'.
On the retreat from Nashville, January 1865 they had 'empty haversacks.'
Would be of civilian wool or jean cloth of muted earth-tones; the Army issued large dark blue woolen blankets; there was captured U.S. issue in either regulation issue grey, with black end stripes, or brown, with dark brown end stripes and no end stitching, some having U.S. stitched into the blanket. Homemade blankets, quilts and even carpets would have had some small amount of use.
16 June 1862 and one member of the Regiment has 'no blanket.'
16 August 1862 When moving out from Chattanooga to Dallas 'No trunks aloud to be hauld and onley one wagon to the one hundred men. We have to leve some of our blankets.'
In the Army of Tennessee during November 1863 the troops reported 'quantities of new English blankets have been issued, a single one is large enough to cover a double bed, and the texture is far superior to the blankets usually brought.'
It was practice for many to troops to wrap their essentials in their blanket, cover it with an oil cloth, wrap it, secure both ends, and then drape it over their left shoulder to their right hip, this being if the had no knapsack or had disguarded it.
Gum blankets/ground cloths
The could be of linseed soaked canvas; Confederate issue oil cloth, which was canvas painted with oil or enamel paint; or if they were lucky a captured Federal issue rubber blanket, poncho or oilskin.
Captain John H. Worsham, 21st Virginia, writing of the Second Bull Run campaign: 'The only shelter the men had were oil or rubber cloths and cotton flies.'
Berry Benson, 1st Carolina Infantry, in Virginia, wrote after the Seven Days Battles: 'the whole Confederate army refitted itself with blankets, rubber clothes, tent flies, haversack and canteens.'
O. T. Hanks, Texas Brigade, ANV, after Gaines Mill:
One Southern soldier 'Around my shoulder hung my wool blanket and a captured Yankee gum (poncho).'
If tentage was available it seems that tent flies were very Army of Tennessee, with shelter halves more Army of Northern Virginia, rather than 'A’ frames being used, although many times troops in all armies marched light without such encumbrances as tents. Some 402,000 Federal shelter halves were contracted for 1862. Their issue began by the spring of that year in the east and by the summer was in widespread use. Its use in Western Armies started in 1863.
General R. S. (Boldy) Ewell, Army of Northern Virginia, wrote 'You cannot bring tents; (bring along) tent-flies without poles, or tents cut down to that size, and only as few as are indispensable.'
General Robert E. Lee, Army of Northern Virginia, to his quartermaster on taking command 'The shelter-tent seems to be preferred by them....A simple fly, or cloth of that shape, would answer the purpose.'
When they originally volunteered they were in a camp in Tennessee: 'and had no tents.'
And on the 21st July 1862 'the tents were struck in driving rain'.
At one time while in (West) Virginia: '10 shanties were put up, the sick put in them.'
On the 2 Oct 1861 they stopped to camp on Sewell Creek, (West) Virginia: 'in a heavy forest without tents.'
At Big Shovel Mountain, (West) Virginia, 11 October 1861 'I have not put my head in a....tent since a day in September.'
25 October 1861, at Green Briers Bridge 'took posetion of the tents and heavy baggage.'
Going back to Sewell Mountains, October 1861 'he packed all his heavy baggage and tents, and carried nothing but axes, cooking utensils, blankets.'
On the 23 April 1862 'we pitched out tents one mile from Corinth.'
T. A. Tooke, 9th Louisiana Infantry, ANV, while in Virginia, 26 April 1862: 'We have got fliers (or rather tents with both ends opened) to sleep in
General Lee, Special Orders No. 22, 1 June 1862: 'Only sufficient transportation will be retained for carrying....such tents or tent-flies as are indispensable to the comfort and protection of the troops.'
Colonel Halbert E. Paine, 4th Wisconsin, on a raid in the vicinity of Port Gibson & Grand Gulf Railroad, 24 June 1862: 'We burned the camp, saving six of the best (Confederate) tent-flies.'
On the 27 June 1862 'Today, Etter and his comrads construct a 'great shed' for shade and shelter.'
O. T. Hanks, Texas Brigade, ANV, about 27 June 1862:
Lieutenant E. A. Pinnell, 8th Mo, serving in the Trans-Mississippi Theatre, 17 September 1862: 'Three of us have made a tent by sewing to (two) blankets together, which serves us a good purpose, keeping us tolerably dry.' And 2 October, 1862: 'Had considerable rain last night my mess of seven has a tent made of four blankets which shelters us tolerably well.'
General William J. Hardee, 18 October 1862 'I would respectfully suggest the propriety of keeping the flies, which I fear we may have difficulty in replacing.'
26 October 1862 and it 'Continued snowing all day today and some time after night fell some 3 or 4 inch
On the 23 December 1862 James J. Womack completed the brick chimney to his tent 'It drew finely, and made my tent as comfortable as a stove.'
Braxton Bragg, Headquarters Army of Tennessee, General Orders No. 78, 13 April 1863 'only will be carried, to wit: one tent to each regiment for medical department; one tent to each regimental headquarters; two tents to each brigade headquarters; two tents to each division headquarters; six tent-flies for every 100 men.'
Lieutenant Hiram Moorman, 13th Tennessee Infantry, AOT, mid-1863: 'All our tents being worthless & condemned were burnt at Tullahoma . A blanket stretched is a poor substitute for a tent, though it does very well.'
Lieutenant Elias Davis 10th Alabama Infantry, ANV, 4 May 1864: '(our sermon was interrupted by an order) to strike tents, cut them up and distribute them among men.'
Private J. P. Cannon, 27th Alabama Infantry, AOT, while in Georgia, 20 June 1864: 'Having beds of leaves and brush to keep us (out of).... the water, and stretching blankets over us.'
On the retreat into North Carolina, January 1865: 'under a little 'dog fly', the size of a table cloth'.
North Carolina, January 1865: 'My little dog fly was to protect me at night, but I had to resort(?) to it to save my feet by tearing off strips, wrap around my feet and repeat when absolutely necessary.'
Early in the war until the issue of government canteens, and the acquisition of Federal ones, troops used clay jugs, straw or leather covered bottles, and tinsmiths homemade varieties of varying size and shape. Confederate issue canteens were made on tin, about 6" diameter and 2" thick with a canvas strap, although some have been found with a leather strap, the Confederate Gardner pattern canteens were made of wood. They had a cork stopper, but when these wore out a wooden or corncob stopper was used.
Federal canteens were plain, or bulls-eye style, and had an overall size of 8" and were about 2 3/4" in the center, with many none regulations canteens, and Mexican War canteens used.
Most metal canteens had a cloth covering of some colour, grey, butternut, or sky blue, and like many wooden ones sometimes bore the Company and the Regiment of the owner.
31 August 1862 'we had orders to fill our canteens with water.'
10 September 1862 'Water was scarce and we were forced to drink from the ponds along the route. Wade in a little and sink our canteens below the green skim....we passed 38 ponds one day and that he drank a canteen of water out of each pond.'
On the 3 September 1862 and some 'had two Yankee canteens apiece'
Early July 1864 'I drank some water, (and) filled my canteen.'
22 July 1864 ' I gave it to him from my canteen.' and ' I took off my canteen...., I reached for my canteen.'
One problem suffered by all was the shortage of cooking utensils: kettles, pans, skillets, coffee pots, plates and mugs this was also the case with the Regiment. In the main these were tin plate, although there were other types including copper mugs.
To make up for these deficiencies many makeshift expedients were used frying pans were made out of plates; skillets, plates and corn graters were made from halves of captured canteens (these 'were easily halved by inserting and setting off of a small charge of powder.')
In mid May 1861 with the Regiment not having been issued with any cooking utensils a nearby burned out factory was raided and they 'used pieces of smoke stack and other materials for cooking vessels'.
Some time later, at Camp Trousdale some had 'a camp kettle'.
On the 24 May 1861 they were using 'broken skillets and battered pans'.
While in Virginia, during 13th-20th October 1861, with the loss their cooking utensils they were soon 'washing off the large flat rocks all along the water's edge....kneading up dough....others prepared sharp sticks....and around them twined ringlets of dough....and stuck them around to bake before the fire. With these brown rolls and fat beef broiled on hot rock plates we soon had a delicious meal'.
Knives, forks and spoons were used with the forks generally being three-pronged, handles were either of bone or wood.
Cutlery was to become a problem as the years go by and by wars end all ranks used sticks, pocket knives and fingers, by February 1864 in the Army of Tennessee one officers mess stated 'we have no utensils to eat with.'
A tin cup, with the odd copper cup as they have been found.
Typical glasses of the period were oval, round, or rectangular shape, and could have a blue coating.
At Big Shovel Mountain, (West) Virginia, 11 October 1861 the men had 'nothing
but one blanket.'
'many one of our boys now have....
a nice rubber cloth.'
' also a pair or
more of Small Tent Cloths.'
es deep. It is quite cold. We drew some tents after night.'