South Carolina Captured

CS Cartridge Box


Description and Photograph






     People unfamiliar with mid-nineteenth century military weaponry assume that soldiers carried a powder horn or some variation of one.  In reality, soldiers were issued cartridges consisting of a paper tube filled with a powder charge and ball.  These paper cartridges were issued in packs of 10.  Being made of paper, the cartridges were very fragile.  Even a slight wetting would ruin them.  Therefore, it was necessary to keep the cartridges dry in a leather box.  The box also kept sparks out during battle.  Should a spark enter the box, the resulting explosion would severely injure or kill the soldier carrying it and perhaps those nearby.  Basically, each soldier had a bomb strapped to his waist, and only this box kept it from igniting.

     The Confederate manufactured and issued cartridge box shown here was patterned after the 1842 Federal rifle-musket box, but it has the classic characteristics, including the use of russet leather, a lead closure finial and the use of pewter carrying strap buckles.  Only the box’s front flap was painted black; this was done in order to make it shed water so it would keep the cartridges dry.  This example utilized a cartridge box plate to hold the outer flap down without latching the tab.  Unfortunately the plate was removed in the days before Confederate leather accoutrements were fully appreciated.

     It is not known what Confederate soldier carried this cartridge box, but is does have quite a lot of associated history.  The box was captured by United States Naval personnel at the surrender of Charleston, South Carolina.  Charleston’s official surrender came when the Stars and Stripes was once more raised over Fort Sumter on April 14, 1865.  This was four years to the day since it had been lowered in 1861.  Its captor, Dr. J. H. Perry recorded its capture history, and that of a Tower musket complete with bayonet.  The history is written in ink:  “Cartridge box taken from a Confederate soldier at the surrender of Charleston SC by Dr. J.H. Perry, U.S.N.  Belongs with the English Tower musket and bayonet”.  Unfortunately the Tower musket and bayonet have been separated from the box, probably for the same reason the box plate was removed.

     With the exception of a broken latch tab, the box and sling are in extraordinarily good condition.  The box still contains its original two piece tin liner.  All of the leather is supple and strong and all of the stitching remains intact and tight.      

     The belt shown can be added for $6,500.00.           



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