Besides his uniform, an English observer noted that each infantryman carried '. . . his musket and cartridge-box ... a canteen, most men a blanket and haversack'. The cartridge-box was usually a copy of the U.S. cartridge-box, often of undyed brown leather. It was generally worn on the waistbelt, at the small of the back, held on by two straps. Inside, one or two tin containers held forty rounds or so of paper-wrapped ammunition. Some states issued brass stamped cartridge-box plates with a state pattern, such as its seal or letters
like 'NC' for North Carolina. These, however, were rare and most box flaps were plain or impressed 'CS'.
Finials on Union cartridge-boxes were always brass, but what brass there was in the Confederacy was needed for sabre hilts, cannon and musket parts. Confederates mostly used wood or lead finials.
'In action', recalled a veteran, 'the blanket roll is thrown further back, and the cartridge-box is drawn forward, frequently in front of the body'. Next to the cartridge-box was the cap-box. In it were held the small copper percussion caps used to fire the musket. Cap-boxes, too, were often brown with wood or lead finials, and held to the belt with one wide strap. Like the cartridge-box, they often lacked the second under-flap used as protection against rain in U.S. issue boxes.
In the centre of the belt was the belt-plate. This was most often just a plain brass frame buckle, with a single or double tongue. Some pre-war state-issue plates bore state seals or letters, like
Men in reconstructed Confederate uniforms give a good idea of a typical company in line of battle. The man on the far left is the company commander
'AVC' for Alabama Volunteer Corps or 'SC' for South Carolina. Many captured U.S. plates also saw use. The Confederate armouries did make some belt-plates, usually brass rectangles with the letters 'CSA' or oval brass plates with the letters 'CS'.
On the left hip the soldier was to wear his bayonet. Colonel Fremantle noted that among the soldiers 'Many, however, had lost or thrown away their bayonets, which they don't appear to value properly, as they assert that they have never met any Yankees who would wait for that weapon.' McCarthy agreed. 'The infantry found out that bayonets were not of much use, and did not hesitate to throw them, with the scabbard, away.'
Another veteran recalled: 'From the right shoulder pass two straps, one cloth the other leather, making a cross with the blanket roll on the breast and back. These straps support respectively a greasy cloth haversack and a
Hanncl-covered canteen, captured from the Yankees. Added to the haversack strap is a tin cup, while in addition to some odds and ends of camp trumpery, there hangs over his back a frying pan, an invaluable utensil with which a soldier would be loath to part. His gun is an Enfield rifle, also captured from the enemy and substituted for the old flintlock musket or shotgun with which he was originally armed.'
The haversack, into which whatever rations he could lay his hands on, tobacco and any spare ammunition went, was usually made of white cotton duck or linen, although any sort of material would do. Captured Union ones were greatly prized.
Waterbottles, or canteens, were as varied in style as haversacks. Round tin Union ones, with wool covers, were commonly used, and a Confederate-made version of this canteen is usually marked by a tin, rather than pewter, spout.
Confederates also made tin drum-shaped canteens. Wood canteens, generally left the natural colour, were quite common. These were often carved with the owner's name and unit on one side. Leather and canvas were both used for slings.
The blanket roll was made up of a blanket brought from home or capturcd. Each soldier was supposed to have a shelter half and a waterproof a poncho as part of his blanket roll, but these were rare. After the Peninsular campaign Lee requested shelter halves, as the men were then sleeping under blankets thrown over rails during showers. At Fredericksburg, however, an issue of shelter halves was made to the men of the Light Division at a ratio of one half for every twenty men.
The halves were made of heavy cotton duck with buttons and buttonholes on three sides. Two halves together made up a small tent for two men.
Waterproofs were to be made of indiarubber-coatcd muslin, with a slit in the middle through which the head went. General Josiah Gorgas, Chief of Confederate Ordnance, recalled an '. . . almost absolute lack of indiarubber, [so] 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 whole or in part of the same material. Linseed oil answered best for making this cloth, and much was imported through the blockade, but it was eked out to some extent by-fish oil____'
Even if the infantryman had all he was supposed to have in his blanket roll, he never knew how long he would keep it. A private in the 17th Virginia, on the field going into the Second Battle of Manassas, recalled: 'On the way we were halted, and every soldier was compelled to strip for the fight by discarding his blanket if he had one, which was not often - oilcloth or overcoat. All these were deposited in a large pile, and guards set over them, looking very much as if we did not intend to retreat. Cartridge-boxes were filled with forty rounds, and in our haversacks we carried twenty more, making sixty rounds in all.'
It was when theinfantryman wasmore interested in the final part of his kit his musket - than anything else.
Infantrymen had been encouraged to bring arms from home at first, giving the army quite a variety of hunting rifles, flintlock muskets and shotguns. Arms-making machinery had been captured at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in 1861, and sent to Richmond and Fayetteville, North Carolina, where armouries were immediately set up. Two-band rifles were turned out at Fayetteville, and three-band muskets at Richrpond which, eventually, were as good as any Union make. These were, of course, close copies of the single-shot 058-calibre Model 1855 rifled muskets and rifles - excellent weapons, with an effective range of some 500 yards.
Agents were quickly sent overseas, too, and by 3 February 1863 had shipped back 70,980 long Enfield rifles, 9,715 short Enfield rifles, 354 Enfield carbines, 27,000 Austrian rifles, 21,040 British smoothbore muskets and 2,020 Brunswick rifles. Some 23,000 more muskets were awaiting shipment in London and 30,000 in Vienna. An officer of the Stonewall Brigade noted in January 1863 that 'during that time some Austrian rifles were distributed among the Second and Fifth (Virginia) Regiments'.
A problem with such a variety of weapons was that they had a variety of bore sizes, and ammunition resupply became a nightmare for quartermasters. Richmonds and captured U.S. muskets the bulk of the army's weapons were 0-58 calibre; Enfields were 0-577; old U.S. smoothbore muskets were 0-6g, and Austrian muskets were 0-54. There were even some Prussian, Russian and Austrian o-75-calibrc muskets around. The British and American weapons were close enough to use the same ammunition, and it was eventually decided that the 0-577 calibre would be the official size.
By May 1863 pretty much the whole Army of Northern Virginia, through captures, home-makes or imports, had 0-577- or o-58-calibre muskets. In fact, so many muskets were available that Colonel Fremantle was able to report that near Gordonsville, Virginia, '. . . I observed an enormous pile of excellent rifles rotting in the open air. These had been captured at Chancellorsville; but the Confederates have already such a superabundant stock of rifles that apparently they can afford to let them spoil.'
The Confederate infantryman in action was z different soldier from his enemy. One particular trait Fremantle noticed was that 'the Southern troops, when charging, or to express their delight, always yell in a manner peculiar to themselves. The Yankee cheer is much more like ours; but the Confederate officers declare that the Rebel yell has a particular merit, and always produces a salutary and useful effect upon their adversaries. A corps is sometimes spoken of as a "good yelling regiment".'
While they might yell well, their drill was rather indifferent. Rarely did they learn all the facets of drill in their manual, which was written by their General Hardee when still in the U.S. Army. A British observer in 1861 said that 'the drill of the army is the same as the French, the step even quicker than the Zouaves, and a good deal longer than that of the English infantry. Movements are executed with considerable precision, and as rapidly as in English light-infantry battalions.'
Colonel Fremantle, during one review, '. . . expressed a desire to see them form square, but it appeared they were "not drilled to such a maneuver" (except square two deep). They said the country did not admit of cavalry charges, even if the Yankee cavalry had stomach to attempt it.'
Nor did their marching please Coldstreamer Fremantle. 'I saw no stragglers during the time I was with Pender's division; but although the Virginian army certainly does get over a deal of ground, yet they move at a slow, dragging pace, and are evidently not good marchers naturally. As Mr Norris [his Confederate guide] observed to me, "Before this war we were a lazy set of devils; our Negroes worked for us, and none of us ever dreamt of walking, though we all rode a great deal.'"
Even more interesting were the men of Hood's Division. 'This division, well known for its fighting qualities, is composed of'Texans, Alabamians, and Arkansians, and they certainly are a queer lot to look at. They carry less than any other troops;
many of them have only got an old piece of carpet or rug as baggage; many have discarded their shoes in the mud; all are ragged and dirty, but full of good humour and confidence in themselves and their general, Hood.'
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