Personal Gear

The typical Confederate soldier tended to travel "light," carrying with him only those things he absolutely needed. In the infantry that would include a cartridge box and cap pouch for ammunition (though there are accounts of soldiers having lost or thrown away both items and carrying their rifle rounds in their pockets), a haversack, a canteen, a blanket and perhaps a waterproof ground cloth, and, of course, the ubiquitous tin cup, the do-all piece of equipment used for everything from dipping water, brewing coffee to boiling stew. In the cavalry, the horse could bear much of the burden, while in the artillery, the battery's wagons could be used to relieve the men of much unwanted weight.

New high-resolution digital photography allows museum staff, visitors, and researchers to virtually explore artifacts up close and personal. Examine some of these artifacts in the  Artifact Showcase.


In Our Vaults:

The Museum's collection includes U.S. and Confederate made cartridge boxes and cap pouches, as well as those imported from Great Britain. Cartridge boxes were either worn on a sling over the left shoulder or threaded onto the waist belt so the box rested on the right hip. Waist belts came in a variety of styles; the officers' sword belts often festooned with decorative stitch work or gold braid, while the enlisted man's belt might be nothing more than a piece of canvas painted black with a buckle attached.

A wide variety of canteens were carried. Besides the typical wooden drum and tin canteens, the collection contains a leather covered glass flask, a redware ring canteen, a vulcanized rubber canteen, as well as a filter canteen and the bullet that pierced it at Frazier's Farm in 1862, killing the owner.

Extra clothes and other personal items, when not rolled up inside the blanket, were carried in leather or waterproofed canvas knapsacks. The museum's collection includes box knapsacks (canvas and leather stretched over a wooden frame), soft packs (those without a rigid frame) and a British imported knapsack.

Haversacks, made of leather or cloth, were used to carry a soldier's personal items, such as his playing cards and dice, bible, his pipe and tobacco, perhaps some writing paper and a picture of his sweetheart, along with his rations, which might consist of salt pork, beans or rice, and the ever present army bread, or hardtack. Many officers also carried haversacks when in the field.

Mess equipment, those items used for cooking and eating, could be as simple as a tin cup and a spoon, to the more elaborate affairs consisting of multiple pieces of tinware that nestled one inside the other to form a compact package for carrying. Very popular among the soldiers was a combination knife, fork, spoon made in a jackknife form, a forerunner of the Swiss Army knife.

Also included in the museum's collection are those items not necessarily delineated in military manuals, but important to the personal comfort and well-being of the soldier. Such objects include razors, combs, mirrors, and other personal grooming items; sewing kits, often referred to as a "housewife," that included needles, thread, and extra buttons; pipes and tobacco pouches; and a hog bristled toothbrush.