Old South Military Antiques

South Carolina Clip Corner
Item #: OS-7626

  This is the plate offered for sale

  This is the antebellum plate keeper

  This is a post war example

  Note the wide keeper

South Carolina was an old and prosperous state prior to the War. As such, she was able to equip her volunteer army with the finest of accoutrements. There are more variations of the South Carolina waist belt, cartridge box and breastplate than there are of any other state in the Confederacy.

These early plates from South Carolina were intended to be worn with a white web belt that locked down the over-the-shoulder bayonet scabbard and cartridge box web belts. These were used by the aristocratic, pre-War South Carolina militia and naturally most were then worn into Confederate Service.

A pall was cast over these attractive waist belt plates when in 1996, Michael O’Donnell and J. Duncan Campbell published American Military Belt Plates. In that fine work, this plate was shown to be both Wartime and potentially be post war. Even though there were examples of this plate that had histories dating to back before the War, and Wartime images showing South Carolinians wearing them, this lack of certainty disappointed some collectors who had these in their collections at the time, myself included. I asked Mike O’Donnell how he knew that these were also made post-War and he replied that he had seen post-War pictures of South Carolinians wearing these. Well, that was indeed disappointing to me. I did not give it much more thought, I just quit selling them, though I did not see anything wrong with selling them as long as the potential was exposed. I just preferred not to deal with it.

Years later I saw something that opened my eyes. I ran into images of one that had this same face, but had the wide belt keeper on the back that one would expect to see on a post-War plate. Then I realized that when O’Donnell saw these plates in post-War images, he could not see the back, and neither he nor I, considered that the belt clasps on the plates made in the two different eras could have different features. Though there are other plates where this very thing occurs, it did not cross our mind because we had never seen one with the wide keeper.

As a result of this discovery, those that still have these plates with the narrow keeper can be assured that their plates are of antebellum manufacture and were used by South Carolina, and probably also CS soldiers during the War.

As originally made, leather thongs were inserted in the loops to keep the device in place. At some point the leather was replaced by wire on this example. It is not a recent change, but at some point, the leather was replaced. Otherwise, this example could not be more perfect.