Old South Military Antiques

Confederate Tin Canteen With Its Original Strap
Item #: OS-7496

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. Tin-smithing was a skilled craft in the antebellum period; cup, plates, buckets, pans, light fixtures, wash basins and myriad other essentials were made by the tinsmith. Any village larger than a tavern had a tinsmith and every town had numerous skilled tinsmiths.

When the War was forced upon the South tinsmiths near and far, whether from a motive of profit or patriotism they turned their skilled hands to war. And every hand was needed as every soldier needed a tin plate and cup, a scabbard, either of leather or tin and a canteen of wood or tin. There were far more needed than could be supplied but for the soldier’s friend, the enemy.

The tin drum canteen was manufactured before, during and after the War, so most tin drum canteens cannot, even if they are from the mid nineteenth century, be identified specifically as Confederate.

Fortunately, this rare canteen is not one of those obscure, unidentifiable canteens; this is unquestionably a Confederate manufactured canteen. The canteen has its original Confederate manufactured canvas sling, which even has its original brass closure button. And the button has not been resewn, it is as it was when the soldier carried it. The sling appears to be flecked with much blood, but I have not tested it to verify it with certainty.

It has obviously seen severe service over many a weary mile, through rain, mud, sleet and snow; has had its fill at many a stream and well, and most likely a little, or as much apple jack as could be hunted down.

Yet, for all this it remains in remarkably good condition; the sling is easily strong enough to support it full of water today. I can hardly imagine a better example of what the South’s gallant defender used to slake his thirst and wash down the dust of the march on a day to day basis.

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