|Description and Photograph||
During the course of the War millions of canteens were manufactured in the South. Every man in the Southern Army carried a canteen and most would go through several by War’s end. To supply this need, canteens were manufactured at Confederate government facilities, but the government facilities could supply only a small fraction of the canteens required to equip the army. In order to meet the pressing need for canteens the Confederate government purchased the vast majority of canteens from private manufacturing concerns.
The most widely used Confederate canteen was made of wood because any cooperage could easily convert to the manufacture of wooden canteens as they required exactly the same skills as barrel making. Revolutionary War canteens were also made of wood and are often confused with Confederate era canteens. The Confederate canteen can be differentiated from its Revolutionary War counterpart by the lathe turned front and back faces. The front and back faces of the Revolutionary War canteens were cut and shaped by hand, consequently they lack lathe turning marks. The lathe marks are readily apparent on faces of Confederate manufactured canteens. The lathe turned wood faces were joined by horizontal slats and banded with iron. The bands were held together with copper or tin loops.
The canteen shown here has the name Albert Johnson cut into its face. When the carver cut in Joh-son he skipped the “N” and went back and cut it in over where it should have been. This leads me to believe someone else carved it for Albert Johnson, since if Johnson could write, he could spell his name. Another thing leads me to the same conclusion; 12 ALA is carved into its face. However I can find no record of Albert Johnson in the 12th Alabama, but I found him in the 11th Alabama. This same canteen is shown in Sylvia and O’Donnell’s Civil War Canteens on page 18. There it is attributed to Albert Johnson of the 11th Alabama. It also has a large stylized “AJ” cut into the face.
This is the standard Confederate issue wood drum canteen with forged iron bands and three tin cross straps. The canteen is good and tight and retains its original mouthpiece. The canteen comes with Johnson’s official records.