Soldier Equipment of the Orphan Brigade
compiled by Geoff Walden
Unfortunately, the extant records do not describe these equipment items in any way except as to condition, so we can only surmise that they were common types issued to soldiers in the Army of Tennessee. These likely included cartridge boxes, cap boxes, and belts made from tarred or painted canvas, to save leather.
A few Orphan Brigade equipment items survive today, and the following photographs and descriptions detail these.
This brown leather waist belt with brass C.S.A. buckle was worn by Pvt. David Fenimore Cooper Weller of Co. C, 2nd Kentucky Infantry. The cast brass rectangular C.S.A. belt plate was apparently a very common style in the Army of Tennessee; numerous examples have been dug around Murfreesboro and Tullahoma, and on several Atlanta Campaign sites. They are believed to have been made at the Atlanta Arsenal, and possibly other area shops (see Sydney C. Kerksis, Plates and Buckles of the American Military 1795-1874, Kennesaw, GA: Gilgal Press, 1974, pp. 538ff.). Click here to see some uniform items identified to Pvt. Weller.
Belt and buckle, Pvt. D.F.C. Weller,
2nd Kentucky Infantry
Pvt. William C. Fletcher of Co. K, 4th Kentucky Infantry, carried this cedar canteen. This type of canteen was very common in the Confederate army, of a distinctive wood drum style apparently designed by F. J. Gardner, and known as the "Gardner" canteen. These canteens had lathe-turned wooden faces, with slats on the sides held together by iron bands, like a small barrel. Small straps of iron or tin held the sling (usually cotton). Some canteens had a wood spout, but many originals today do not have a spout; it is unknown whether the spout has fallen off, or they were made without a spout.
Wooden "Gardner" pattern
canteen, Pvt. W. C. Fletcher, 4th Kentucky Infantry
Pvt. Fletcher individualized his canteen with carvings on the wooden faces, a very common Confederate practice. He carved his name and unit on one side, and a drawing of a house on the other. Pvt. Fletcher was killed in action near Dallas, Georgia, in May 1864, and this canteen likely dates from the earlier part of the Atlanta Campaign.
This gray woolen blanket was carried by Pvt. Andrew W. Randolph of Co. B, 6th Kentucky Infantry. It may be a Confederate issue blanket. It is similar to other blankets identified to Confederate soldiers. This blanket has edge stitching and decoration of red wool yarn; it is unclear whether this was a feature of its manufacture, or was added later. This blanket has also been trimmed, perhaps for use as a shawl.
Blanket used by A. W. Randolph, 6th
Officers often had special haversacks to carry their military papers. This leather officers haversack belonged to Capt. Fayette Hewitt, who served as the Asst. Adjutant General of the Orphan Brigade. Officers' haversacks often had carved or embossed decoration in the leather.
Capt. Fayette Hewitt's officers
Soldiers had to do their own sewing and clothing repair in the field, and many men carried a small sewing kit, popularly known as a "housewife." These kits usually contained needles, thread, buttons, and perhaps a thimble and small scissors. This housewife belonged to Gen. Ben Hardin Helm. It may have been made for him by his wife Emily.
Gen. Helm's housewife sewing kit,
shown closed (left) and open
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Geoff Walden: enfield577 (at) live.com
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