Various Artifacts

One of the most interesting ways to learn and understand how people lived and dealt with life during their time period is to study the Artifacts that were left behind.  The Artifacts and Accoutrements from the U.S. Military give us a great understanding of the life of the soldier during this era and how he artilleryendured through this time period. A sampling of some of these Artifacts that the Museum has to offer is shown below.

Artillery Rounds
Ammunition saw some of the most startling developments of any phase of artillery during the years from 1836 to 1865.  The old smoothbore types continued relatively unchanged, but it was really projectile innovations that permitted the effective rifling of the Civil War.

During the Civil War more varieties of artillery projectiles and cannon were used than in any other time in military history. The outbreak of hostilities in 1861, found inventors on both sides searching for the perfect blend of sabot, body, and fuze to create the artillery projectile that would give the military advantage to their respective cannoneers. This seemingly unending search for that elusive, perfect projectile continued even after the end of the Civil War.

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For the Field artillery there were supplied solid shot, case, and shell with time-fuses and with percussion-fuses.  Solid shot were designed mainly for destroying the heavy walls of fortifications.  The other forms were used against troops.  Case was of two kinds–canister, which separated at the muzzle and 


shrapnel, which separated at a distance. The shell was a hollowed projectile, containing also a bursting charge, intended for destructive effect at a distance. All projectiles used in the US land service, except canister have practically the same form–a cylindrical body with a pointed head.  Rotation is given by a compressible band of copper, slightly larger than the bore, near the base of the projectile.

Military Regulation Books

From 1775 until Valley Forge, American forces were brave, but disorganized citizens fighting against highly trained and organized British Soldiers. To win the Revolutionary War, General George Washington’s men needed better training, discipline, and esprit de corps. Seeking a solution, General Washington tasked Baron von Steuben with transforming the large group of hungry and exhausted men at Valley Forge into a disciplined fighting force. In the harsh Pennsylvania winter, Baron von Steuben instructed a company of future leaders in basic military movements and tactical skills; those individuals were the predecessors of our Drill Sergeants! He developed that cadre until they could –in turn—train the entire Revolutionary Army in the art of basic military artillery_2maneuvers. Through their perseverance and sense of duty, these dedicated troops practiced to the highest standards. As a result, Washington’s men fought skillfully in battle and truly embodied a professional army. By 1783, America had won its independence. Baron von Steuben, by then the Army Inspector General, wrote the Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States—now commonly referred to as the Blue Book—as an instructional guide for future generations.

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The Soldier's Guide, is a pocket reference for subjects in which all soldiers must maintain proficiency, regardless of rank, component or military occupational specialty (MOS). It condenses information from other field manuals, training circulars, soldier training publications, Army regulations, and other sources. It addresses both general subjects and selected combat tasks. While not all-inclusive or intended as a stand-alone document, the guide offers soldiers a ready reference in many subjects.

Military Artillery Insignia
The history of the military insignia dates back to the Continental Army and General George Washington. The Continental Army could not afford to purchase uniforms.  As a result, distinguishing between the various ranks within the army became difficult and General Washington requested that badges be designed to alleviate the confusion.  Development of the insignias continued into the Revolutionary War with the distinction of a two star General (major general) and a one star (brigadier).  At that time, these stars would be worn on the shoulder boards or epaulettes.

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The Insignia, used by various branches of the military, has a deep root in American history. Originally, the initial rankings used in the United States Military (oftentimes distinguished by the insignia) were established using the British military rankings. The British army would differentiate between rankings using items such as feathers, sashes and stripes, but sometimes, the rank would be identified by the weapon that was being carried or by an eye-catching uniform. Insignias continued to evolve, along with rankings, into World War II.

Chevrons are V-shaped stripes whose use in the military go back to at least the 12th century. It was a badge of honor and used in heraldry. The British and French used chevrons — from the French word for "roof" — to signify length of service.

Chevrons officially denoted rank in the U.S. military for the first time in 1817, when cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., wore them on their sleeves. From West Point, chevrons spread to the Army and Marine Corps. The difference then was chevrons were worn points down until 1902, when Army and Marine Corps enlisted personnel switched to the present points up configuration.

Military Saddles
In the evaluation of saddles, there were quite a number of styles tested. The Jones adjustable tree saddle, the Hope, the standard service Grimsley, the flexible Campbell, and the new style offered by Capt. McClellan. In the evaluation of these saddles, it was no doubt difficult to choose a positively superior saddle, as all of these saddles (except perhaps the Jones) had their vociferous supporters. Style and habitual preference would have had as much to do with the decision-making as with the suitability of the saddle for military service. The deciding factors in saddle selection became apparent when cost cutting, in addition to serviceability, was the final choice in the adoption of the McClellan saddle. Indeed, budget "frugality" is reflected throughout the life of the McClellan saddle, and was the main reason for its longevity. It was recommended for replacement a number of times – with all recommendations failing in the face of huge stockpiles of saddles from the Civil War, and later, from WWI contracts.

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artillery_4Military Saddler and Ferrier
The successful maintenance and operation of any military horse unit required the services of a competent Ferrier and Saddler. A Ferrier was a artillery_5blacksmith that specialized in shoeing horses and was assigned to each company. The Saddler was a leather-smith that repaired the tack (saddles, bridles, halters, etc.) and various types of harness which became damaged through normal use. The proper shoeing of the horses was essential in keeping the animals healthy and available for whatever duty was required. The Ferrier made or prepared an individual set of four horseshoes for each animal. Different sizes of mass produced horseshoes were purchased by the Quartermaster Department. Contrary to popular belief, the Ferrier did not completely produce every horseshoe.

The Ferrier selected the most compatible size and prepared (adjusted) the shoes to fit the horse's hoofs. If commercially produced horse shoes were not available or corrective shoeing was necessary, an experienced Ferrier could make the entire shoe from a single piece of iron. Each horse was different and the growth of its hoof determined how often the horseshoes had to be removed and reset. The horseshoes were normally reset once every five to six weeks. When the horseshoes were worn out they were often made into hook picks, hooks, or artillery_6other useful items. If a horse was improperly shod, it became lame or permanently crippled.

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Military First Aid System
The carnage that was caused by weapons introduced during the American Civil War forced doctors to make advances in medicine that might have taken another 25 years to develop had the conflict not been fought.  In many ways, the battlefield was the birthplace of modern emergency medicine. Letterman, a surgeon in the Union army, invented a system to rapidly remove wounded soldiers from the battlefield. The first step was to take the soldier to an aid station about 75 yards from the fighting. The aid stations were staffed by surgeons who stabilized the artillery_7patients. A horse-drawn ambulance then took the soldier to a field hospital, where he received more advanced care before he was taken to a hospital away from the fighting. Doctors found cures for infections as well, even though they didn't understand germs. Experiments with bromine and iodine to treat gangrene, for example, led from an abysmal cure rate before the war began in 1861 to a 96 percent cure rate by the time the war ended in 1865.

From 1865 to 1898, America was at peace, which kept advances in battlefield medicine relatively minor. There were, however, several significant events during this time that helped contribute to the Army's first aid system:

    • The American Red Cross was founded in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton on May 21, 1881. It was an organization that would greatly help America's troops starting with the Spanish American war in 1898.
    • In 1882, the United States ratified the first Geneva Convention, which mandated the obligation to extend care without discrimination to wounded and sick military personnel. It also established that there should be respect for medical personnel transports and equipment marked with the sign of the red cross on a white background.
    • On Nov. 20, 1886, General Order No. 86 was issued from the War Department that introduced first aid to all Army soldiers through a series of lectures and pamphlets.
    • Congress passed the law that officially formed the Hospital Corps on March 1, 1887, which stated that the medical personnel in the Army "shall be regularly enlisted in the military service" and that "said Corps shall be permanently attached to the Medical Department, and shall not be included in the effective strength of the Army nor counted as a part of the enlisted force provided by law." The law also established new chevrons (insignia) combined with red crosses to designate members of the Corps.


While these were certainly positive advancements, when war with Spain broke out in 1898, many of Letterman's Civil War reforms were forgotten, and the result was that the military was again unprepared to care for its wounded.

To help supplement medical personnel, George M. Sternberg, the Army's surgeon general at the time, contracted trained nurses from the Daughters of the American Revolution. As a result, more than 1,500 female nurses served in the field in the U.S., Cuba and the Philippines, as well as on the Army hospital ship Relief. These were supplemented by approximately 700 additional nurses from the Red Cross, marking the organization's first war-related mission.

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Military Photography
Louis Daguerre was the inventor of the first practical process of photography. The daguerreotype gained popularity quickly; by 1850, there were over seventy daguerreotype studios in New York City alone. Tintypes, patented in 1856 by Hamilton Smith, were another medium that heralded the birth of photography. A thin sheet of iron was used to provide a base for light-sensitive material, yielding a positive image. In 1851, Frederick Scoff Archer, an artillery_9English sculptor, invented the wet plate negative. Using a viscous solution of collodion, he coated glass with light-sensitive silver salts. Because it was glass and not paper, this wet plate created a more stable and detailed negative. Photography advanced considerably when sensitized materials could be coated on plate glass. However, wet plates had to be developed quickly before the emulsion dried. In the field this meant carrying along a portable darkroom. In 1879, the dry plate was invented, a glass negative plate with a dried gelatin emulsion. Dry plates could be stored for a period of time. Photographers no longer needed portable darkrooms and could now hire technicians to develop their photographs. Dry processes absorbed light quickly so rapidly that the hand-held camera was now possible. In 1889, George Eastman invented film with a base that was flexible, unbreakable, and could be rolled. Emulsions coated on a cellulose nitrate film base, such as Eastman's, made the mass-produced box camera a reality.

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