Captured Confederate Canteen


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.

     According to the old card accompanying the canteen shown here it was “carried by Henry Winter, Co. H, 89th New York” but of course this is incorrect.  I don’t doubt that Henry Winter brought the canteen home from the War, but I do not think he carried it during the War.  This type of mistake was common among the soldier’s families, who usually had a very poor grasp of what their loved ones carried and used during the War, but no doubt they had good intentions when they made the blank “Dewey Decimal System” library file card for display. 

     The canteen still has its original leather carrying strap, but the buckle has broken off and the strap ends connected.  The canteen is perfect and remains tight enough to hold water. 




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