Louisiana Tiger’s Belt Plate

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     This waist belt plate bears the state seal of Louisiana; a mother pelican feeding her young from the blood of her own breast.  Louisiana, or rather, New Orleans was very prosperous prior to the War.  The local New Orleans companies had the very best of accoutrements.  Numerous of the antebellum Louisiana plates bore the motto “Justice, Union and Confidence” signifying that justice was of utmost importance in her laws.  In this interesting adaptation, the Scales of Justice are depicted rather than the text.  After the War the motto was changed to “Union, Justice and Confidence” making clear that justice was no longer to be tolerated as the highest ideal; Union had crushed all opposition and left justice bleeding in the dust.  The latter motto is still used today in occupied Louisiana.

     There were four nearly identical style plates made for New Orleans elite companies; this one, one with an identical face, but having a bar style keeper, an identical one, but with the motto “We Defend Our Rights” above the Pelican and one with the antebellum motto surrounding the Pelican.  All have Pelicans with exquisite detail and fine stippling in the background which indicates to me that they were all executed by the same artist and were likely made in New Orleans.

     This excavated example is perfect, absolutely perfect, not a ding, dint scrape or scratch mars its deep, deep chocolate patina.  Not only is this plate a “10” for its masterful detail, but it is a “10” for its perfect excavated condition, and remarkably, it is a perfect “10” for its personal history; the amateur archeologist who found it recorded its personal history on its back.  On its back is recorded: “Second Manassas 6-22-55”.  This is especially important because these men, universally known as the “Louisiana Tigers” had become a terror to the population and even to their fellow soldiers because of their fighting and pilfering.  Consequently they had come to be disdained by the general population and their comrades.  By the end of Second Manassas it was universally agreed that they were worth the trouble they caused.

     That day they:

Broke up three Union assaults, and then “the Tigers found themselves dangerously short of ammunition.  Two men of the 9th Louisiana were dispatched to the rear for more but a fourth Union attack was mounted before they returned.  The ensuing clash was 'the ugliyst fight of any" claimed Sergeant Stephens.  Groping frantically for ammunition among the dead and wounded, the Louisianians were barely able to beat off the determined Yankees, who threw themselves up to the very muzzles of the Tigers' muskets.  When the Tigers fired their last round, the flags of the opposing regiments were almost flapping together.  In desperation Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Nolan shouted for the men to make use of the numerous rocks that lay scattered around the embankment.  Sensing that the rebels were at the end of their rope, the Yankees were charging up to the base of the embankment when suddenly fist and melon size stones arched out of the smoke that hung over the grade and rained down upon them. "Such a flying of rocks never was seen," claimed one witness, as the Tigers and other nearby Confederates heaved the heavy stones at the surprised federals.  Numerous Yankees on the front line were killed by the flying rocks, and many others were badly bruised." -- From "Lee's Tigers: The Louisiana Infantry in the Army of Northern Virginia"

     This is without a doubt the very best example of this plate to exist and this is likely a once in a lifetime opportunity.

 

 

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