Old South Military Antiques

Virginia Waist Belt
Item #: OS-6962




  Members of the Southern Guards

In 1851, the Virginia legislature made an attempt at forming regiments of volunteers but made little headway. The regiments were slow in forming because most Virginians saw no eminent threat and were reluctant to volunteer. By 1858, when Virginia’s governor reactivated the Virginia line, it was apparent that manpower needs were going to be greater than the Volunteer Militias could provide. In 1859, following John Brown’s infamous raid, Virginians began to seriously plan for defense, volunteer companies sprang up all over Virginia. When Lincoln illegally ordered Virginia to supply troops to invade and subjugate her sister states, Virginia withdrew from the Union and lifted her own flag. Men rushed to her standard from the farthest reaches of Virginia.

Though the earliest use of the Virginia coat of arms on belt plates dates to the 1830s, it was not widely used until it was prescribed for Virginia officers in 1858. Prior to 1859, Virginia purchased nearly all, if not all, belt plates from Northern manufactures, so there are very few Southern made examples. However, this rare die-struck Virginia State Seal Belt Plate is an exception.

In 1859, Virginia acquired the die to stamp this pattern from W.H. Horstmann & Sons of Philadelphia. Afterwards, she manufactured them at the Virginia Armory in Richmond. These plates were produced starting in late 1859 or early 1860 and may have been produced as late as 1862.

The plate bears the Virginia coat of arms, a Victorious Virtus wearing the Liberty cap, standing over an uncrowned and defeated Tyranny. The Latin motto, "Sic Semper Tyrannis” or "Thus Ever to Tyrants” arches around "Virtus” or Virtue.

These web belts were part of a three piece set, including cartridge box and bayonet cross belts, which were locked in place with this style of waist belt. The cross belts were pinned at the cross by a round plate bearing the same seal.

There are several images of "Southern Guards” wearing this distinctive Cross and Waist Belt configuration. An image of one of these "Southern Guards” showing how the belt was worn is also shown here. In the first months of 1860 men from Campbell County, Virginia organized the "Southern Guard” for local defense in response to the North’s support of the criminally insane John Brown.

In May of 1861, the "Southern Guards” joined with other Virginia units in Lynchburg and became Company B, Eleventh Virginia Infantry.

The plate is in perfect condition and still retains much of its gilt.The web belt it is mounted on is in excellent condition, but it has been added to the belt for display. It is the correct style, but is probably post War.

You will notice the brass tag identifying the belt as having been part of the Dr. Joe Murphy collection, which before his death was one of the major collections in America.

Price $4,900.00 USD