Old South Military Antiques

Spectacular Virginia Officer's Belt
Item #: OS-6963




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 the state. When Lincolnillegally ordered Virginiato supply troops to invade and subjugate her sister states, Virginia withdrew from the Unionand 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. The two piece, state seal buckle was used extensively by Virginia’s officers until the end of the War.

This belt is known as a large Virginia two piece or sometimes referred to as a close-loop Virginia. This is because of the large size and the lack of bars between the belt loops and the tongue and wreath portion of the buckle. This belt was likely used by a Virginia officer of the higher ranks. I use the term "likely” because it is always possible that some wealthy martinet of the lower rank, commissioned officers could have purchased it, but that would be the aberration, not the norm. The last one I had of this pattern had belonged to Brigadier General John Floyd. This virtually perfect belt retains its original sword hangers and they are in excellent condition; the only imperfection is that one of the snap springs is broken. You will note here the billet behind the buckle. This was to prevent the buckle’s abrasion on the uniform and is seldom found still intact.

The plate is made of cast brass with a crisply struck, die stamped disc soldered on to the tongue bar. The disc bears the Virginia state seal, Virtue standing over a defeated Tyranny encircled by the Latin motto "Sic Semper Tyrannis” or Thus Ever to Tyrants. The flat back wreath is finely cast with an oak leaf pattern. Both halves of the buckle are stamped with the bench number 28.

This pattern is one of the rarer, and is arguably the more attractive of the Virginia two piece buckles. The belt’s condition is in an extremely fine condition.

I often use the phrase: "strong enough to place on a mannequin” I use this to illustrate how solid an item is as compared to the average. When I use the term, I really mean it is strong enough to safely mount on a mannequin. I have had the pleasure of claiming it for many belts over the years, but this may be a first; the hangers are strong enough to hang a sword on a mannequin!


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