Stacked Arms: a Photographic Study of Federal Late-War Arms and Accoutrements
by Phil Spaugy
As a long-time student of the arms and accoutrements of the Federal soldier of the American Civil War, I have always been drawn to the image below:
Taken at Petersburg, Virginia in late 1864 or early 1865, the image shows a row of stacked rifle muskets along with various items of equipage carried by the common Federal infantryman in the later stages of the American Civil War. Thanks to modern technology, this image is available in several downloadable formats from the Library of Congress website (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/cwp/). Once downloaded, one can enlarge the image and get a great view of the arms and other equipage carried by “Billy Yank” during the last eastern campaign of the war. (If the image looks familiar, it is depicted on one of the large wall murals on display at the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park Visitor Center.
The following are some enlargements of items in this image that I have found interesting. I encourage those interested in further studying this and other images to access the LOC website and see what “hidden treasures” you might find.
The first thing one notices when the image is enlarged is that the arms are obviously well-kept and burnished bright, with a mix of Model 1861, 1863, and 1864 (aka Model 1863 Type II) pattern rifle muskets in the stacks of arms.
You can tell the Model 1861’s from the Model 1863’s by the hammer shape or style, flat barrel bands and band retaining springs of the Model 1861, versus the redesigned hammer, oval, screw-tightened bands of the Model 1863’s which lack band retaining springs. The Model 1861’s also had a distinctive swell to the ramrod to secure the ramrod in the ramrod channel, whereas the M1863/64’s used a ramrod retaining spoon in the stock, which enabled the ramrod to have a straight shaft.
What I find interesting in the images below are the two methods of carrying the cartridge box: suspended on the belt or by the shoulder strap. Also note that the knapsacks are of the common double-bag pattern. There is what appears to be an over-the-shoulder sling suspension type of blanket roll in the first image below.
In closing, this image is a fine example of just how well the Federal soldier of the late war was equipped, which of course did not bode well for for the Confederacy in the spring of 1865.
American Military Equipage, 1851-1872; Volume I; Frederick P. Todd; Company of Military Historians; 1974
American Military Shoulder Arms; Volume III; George D. Moller; University of New Mexico Press; 2011
American Military Belts and Related Equipments; R.Stephen Dorsey; Pioneer Press; 1984