|Description and Photograph||
The non-excavated two piece CS accoutrement belt buckle shown here is believed to have been manufactured in Richmond, Virginia and is only associated with the Army of Northern Virginia. These buckles are usually mounted on leather sword or waist belts. This is an exceptionally rare variant mounted on a woven cotton belt. The blockaded South suffered a severe leather shortage. In order to relieve this shortage and direct available leather towards shoes, which Stonewall was using up at an unprecedented rate, rifle slings and waist belts were made from cotton. Obviously these would not have held up as well as the leather while in service during the War, and likely would have deteriorated much faster than leather through the last hundred and fifty years. Consequently, though there were probably large numbers manufactured, there are very few survivors. In discussing it with other collectors through the years, I have only been made aware of three; one being a sword belt. None of the three had adjusters and presumably never did, as the belts are in good condition and show no signs of ever having had an adjuster. Two are sewn, like the one shown here and another was held strictly by friction. Likely they were issued unsewn and adjusted and then stitched at the proper point by the owner. The buckle on all examples known is the “Richmond Style” leaving little doubt that these were made in Richmond, Virginia. These belts are not at all like the pre War web belts, the heavy canvas is doubled and sewn with three stitch lines. I have no doubt it is strong enough even now to support my weight (200 lbs.) The buckle has a lot of wear demonstrating that these would have held up well until it actually rotted from exposure to rain, dew and sweat.
This particular belt was sold by Miss Nettie Dunlap, from the Dunlap House, at 24 Edmondson Ave, Lexington, Virginia to Robert Burns in 1968. It was then sold to Hall B. Clark while he was a freshman at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia on December 4, 1974. It has since been owned by several collectors, whom it would not be prudent to name in this article, but the information will go to the purchaser in written form.
Three Dunlap boys fought for the Confederacy; Robert Kerr Dunlap, the eldest enlisted in the Liberty Hall Volunteers, Company I, 4th Virginia, Stonewall Brigade. His arm was shattered at 2nd Manassas and his knee shattered at Chancellorsville, which caused its amputation. It is his photo accompanying this article.
John Dunlap entered the “Rockbridge Dragoons”, Company C, 1st Virginia Cavalry. He personally escorted President Davis over the battlefield of 1st Manassas. John was killed at Gettysburg on the third day; his body was brought home and buried in the McKee Cemetery on Rt. 631 in Rockbridge.
Samuel McKee Dunlap was also in the Liberty Hall Volunteers and was captured at Gettysburg the same day his brother John was killed. After a long confinement, Sam was at home on leave when the War ended.
Their little brother, William M. Dunlap, enlisted in the “Boys Company”, Rockbridge Junior Reserves. His company served as couriers in the Valley and prison guards in Richmond until the city’s fall.
Thus, this belt is a remembrance of one family among thousands throughout the South who fought, bled, were crippled or died for the cause of liberty and right of self-determination; a proud symbol of honour and duty to Southerners until the end of time.
To describe the condition of this historic remembrance of a world “Gone with the Wind” is to simply say, it is perfect, without a single flaw and is with the exception of one of a kind belts, the rarest of the rare.