Old South Military Antiques

Maker Marked Cartridge Box and Sling
Item #: OS-6839

  As you can see, the box carried a plate over the maker name

  The complete unit as displayed.

  The tool pouch is complete

  The straps are intact and strong, but the buckles have become detached

  Both ears remain securely attached

  Maker Mark on sling

  Repair to sling

  Repair to sling

People that are unfamiliar with mid-nineteenth century military weaponry generally have the impression that soldiers carried a powder horn or some variation of one. In reality, soldiers were issued cartridges consisting of a paper tube, filled with a powder charge and ball. These paper cartridges were issued in paper packs of ten. Because they were made of paper, the cartridges were very fragile and even a slight wetting would ruin them; therefore, it was necessary that they be carried in a leather box which served to keep the cartridges dry. The box also served to keep out sparks during the heat of battle. Should a spark enter the box, the resulting explosion would severely injure or kill its owner. Basically, each soldier had a bomb strapped to his waist and only this box to keep it from igniting.

Infantry cartridge boxes had tin liners, small compartments on the top row and large openings in the bottom row, in order to hold both loose cartridges and multiple packets of pre-manufactured paper cartridges. Loose paper wrapped cartridges rode in the top compartment for quick access and two more paper wrapped ten packs, complete with percussion caps, rode in the bottom section. When the infantryman had emptied his top compartment, he would remove the tin liner and take out the paper wrapped packets of ten and empty the contents into the top of the container. The percussion caps would be placed in his cap box.

This box is designed to be used either as a musket box (carried on a sling) or a rifleman’s box (carried on a waist belt) by putting on loops and buckles for both when manufactured. This was to save time and trouble logistically when delivering them to the army.

The most desirable of Confederate accoutrements are those examples that carry a maker’s mark. In this case, both the combination rifleman’s/musket cartridge box shown here and its original sling are stamped in three lines "Manufactured by Magee & George New Orleans.” The company is generally known to collectors as Magee, Horter & George and the various owners have, as far as I can discover, never been fully looked into. I find that in Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana) of May 6, 1883 a history of the firm is given. At that time, the firm was owned by George Horter. The article states that the business "is a very old one, founded in 1822 by James Magee & Co. They were succeeded in 1831 by James & Michael Magee, in 1847 by Magee & Kneas, in 1865 by Horter, Peterson & Fenner...”

John George and George Horter were named as exclusive agents for Magee & Kneas in an 1858 advertisement. The earliest military sales invoice by Magee & Kneas is dated January 9, 1861. It was a small order, but their sales continued to increase into March, April, May and June of 1861. These sales were to the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, and individual units. The last surviving invoice from Magee & Kneas was executed on June 8, 1861. During this time the company sold several thousand military accoutrements.

Sometime between June 8th and July 19, 1861 the firm dissolved. The first use of Magee & George on an invoice is dated July 19, 1861 when they sold enough accouterments and horse equipment to accouter a company of cavalry.

The first reference to Magee, Horter & George that I have been able to find was August 27, 1861, when Magee, Horter & George advertised for 100 leather workers. However, there is something about this advertisement that does not line up with the original invoices, for I have a July 20, 1861 payment voucher with the "Horter” name scratched out from between Magee and George. Also, Confederate invoices for September and October have the "Horter” name scratched out from between Magee and George. So sometime between July 19th, and September 1st, Horter was out of the ownership picture.

Now production really picked up. In September the names on the invoices from the firm are headed "Magee, Horter & George”, on the printed form, but the "Horter” has been blacked out of each. So certainly, Horter had left the firm by the time Confederate Ordnance Officer, Captain W.R. Hunt, signed for nearly ten thousand dollars of goods from the firm. The receipt lists George W. Magee and John R. George as the owners. At the time they were located at 6 Magazine Street, and 54 Canal Street, New Orleans.

An invoice dated October 26, 1861 gives some real insight into the cost of equipping a regiment. The invoice from Magee & George lists a thousand each of the following: knapsacks, cartridge boxes, cap pouches, waist belt and plates (note that this box is cut for a plate) shoulder belts (for the cartridge boxes) and bayonet scabbards. The total came to $8,029.35. Unfortunately, we do not know what these cartridge box plates, or the waist belt plates, looked like. The "Regulation” belt plate is the most likely candidate for the belt plate, but we have no idea what the cartridge box plate looked like. Though it can clearly be seen from the box with plate slots, and the invoice, that they were made and delivered.

Though they had already been delivering supplies to the Confederacy, on December 17, 1861, Magee & George entered into a contract with the C.S. Government for ten thousand sets of accoutrements. That contract specifically says: "To be made in conformity with and equal to the sample filed in the Ordnance Office at Memphis, Tennessee.” It is my sincere belief that only samples were maker marked by the firm. This accounts for having the mark on both the sling and the box, and the extreme scarcity of marked examples.

This partnership continued producing leather goods for the Confederacy until April 29, 1862 when the city fell to the invading Yankees. During this short span the firm of Magee & George delivered hundreds of thousands of accouterments to the Confederate Government.

This partnership continued producing leather goods for the Confederacy until April 29, 1862 when the city fell to the invading Yankees. After New Orleans fell, the firm, including Horter, was severely penalized and persecuted by Beast Butler, the cretin governing and looting New Orleans during the Yankee reign of terror.

This super rare, maker marked, example of the company’s cartridge box production is in very good condition, which stands as a testimony to the quality of their work. The box’s only flaws are that the buckles have become detached and are inside the box, where the tins would otherwise be. The ears, tool pouch, latch tabs are all complete and in good condition. There is a cut in the outer flap where perhaps a knife was pushed through it. The sling unfortunately is not in as good condition. It is relatively stiff, and it has had a repair to the strap, and two repairs to one of the tongues that went through the buckles.

Price $8,500.00 USD

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