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It’s been a cold winter already

Not a typical South Carolina day: Fort Moultrie, Saturday, January 6, 2018, closed due to ice and snow. Photo: NPS/Byrnes.


The ‘three months volunteer’ at home

#Loc LC-USZ62-126968

Soldier saying to Boy “No, Bubby, take that away. I won’t take off my boots, but jest have a cup of tea and be off again!” – Illus. in: Harper’s weekly, v. 6, no. 299 (1862 Sept. 20), p. 608.

It is notable that the cartoon ran in Sept. 1862, more than a year after the war began.

In April 1861, at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln, called for a “75,000-man” volunteer militia to augment the tiny regular Army and serve for three months following the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter. This was in-line with the Militia Act of 1795 for both the maximum number that could be called to the colors and the longest time periods.

The men were soon quartered in every federal space in Washington as seen by this woodblock of the barracks sleeping bunks of the 1st Rhode Island Infantry regiment inside the U.S. Patent Office at Washington DC in the spring and summer of 1861.


In May 1861, with the consent of Congress, he authorized 500,000 men for three years. In all, the Union Army fielded more than 2 million during the conflict and most for far longer than 90 days.

The Bomb Brothers

Found this recently and, if you are into Civil War history, 19th-century naval conflict, or mine warfare, it could be of interest to you.

Though slim, it covers George and Gabriel Raines, the Confederacy’s “Bomb Brothers” and inventors of the Raines Patent “Landmines and Torpeado’s.”

George ran the Confederacy’s Torpedo and Mine Bureau while his younger brother Gabriel managed the Confederate Powder Works at Augusta, Georgia, which produced some 3-million pounds of powder during the conflict. Raines patented Keg “Torpeado’s and Subterranean Shells” were used to great effect during the Mobile Campaign 1864-65 (Damn the Torpedoes!) and the book has an appendix that covers each use of mines during the war.

You should get a blast out of it!

Confederate Torpedo #817 recovered from Light House Inlet, Charleston SC

A horseman with double Roots

Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with gauntlets, shoulder scales, and cavalry “Company K” marked Hardee hat holding both two Colt Model 1855 Root sidehammer pistols and cavalry saber. Ambrotype/Tintype in LOC collection.

Colt factory superintendent Elisha K. Root’s sidehammer revolver was very popular with individual soldiers in the conflict while Colt made some 17,000 Model 1855 carbines as well over a nine-year period in several barrel lengths and caliber options.

Now that is a spud gun the Washington Artillery would be proud of

Using subscriber comments and about $35 worth of material, garage gun maker AK Custom crafted a classic potato gun but added some very 19th Century styling to set it apart.

While the spud-gun itself is made with a few pieces of schedule 40 PVC and fittings, the carriage is crafted from a few boards, some eye-bolts, a length of a fencepost and some repurposed cartwheels. The neat features that make the potato-launcher more of a replica cannon include some trunnions made from a length of a broomstick and a wick-hole for good ole’ green cannon fuze made from a rivet.

Interesting design. Want to see it in action?

You are familiar with the Collins bayonet for Navy Sharps rifle, yes?

Here we see the saber bayonet for use on the Sharps and Hankins Navy model .56-52-caliber rifles (some 6,300 made). There is a record of a number of these being issued to US Navy ships during the Civil War. Some 25.25-inches overall, the blade is 20.25 of that.

The bayonet has a steel blade with a ribbed cast-brass grip and cross-guard. The blade is stamped with an anchor and 1861 on the obverse ricasso and Collins & Co / Hartford / Conn on the reverse. The cross-guard is also stamped with an anchor. The flat of the grip is stamped 503 while the obverse cross-guard is stamped 4.C.8.

Better known for their axes and agriculture implements, Collins & Co turned to the manufacturing of swords and bayonets at the outbreak of the American Civil War. They contracted with the firearms companies to produce bayonets compatible with the new models of rifles.

The rare Sharps and Hankins, with its bayonet via RIA

Collins also made saber bayonets for the Navy’s Plymouth rifle (10,000 made) as well as socket bayonets for the M1855/63 Springfield rifles during the Civil War.

Gunderson has one of the Collins Hankins & Sharps bayonets up for grabs (example seen below) while RIA had a rare Sharps & Hankins Navy model carbine up at auction recently, complete with a portion of its leather barrel guard.

Making like the Civil War, 50 years after the fact

At first glance, with the kepis, droopy mustaches, buttoned-backed greatcoats, sword bayonets, and square tarred knapsacks with blanket bedrolls strapped tightly on top, I thought these troops were blue-coated Union volunteers mugging for Matthew Brady around the 1860s.

Turns out they are soldiers of the French Republic’s 124th Infantry Regiment de Laval posing in Pierrefonds, Oise Department, Northern France, in early 1915 with 8x50mmR Lebel Fusil Modèle 1886/M93 rifles. Notably, by mid-1915 the French Army uniform got a lot more modern to included the Adrian helmet and “horizon-blue” uniforms of a simpler cut.

On that note, here is Sgt. Joseph Dore, 7th New York State Militia. Carrying full Government-Issued kit in 1862, via the Library of Congress, for comparison.

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