American Military Insignia 1800-1851 Part 32

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_USNM 604336-M (S-K 492). Figure 267._

[Illustration: FIGURE 267]

The white-metal letters "SG" on this brass plate lend themselves to so many interpretations that no identification is attempted. The applied device has two staples for attachment, and the plate proper is fitted with a safety pin on the reverse.

SHOULDER-BELT PLATE, C. 1850

_USNM 604338-M (S-K 494). Figure 268._



[Illustration: FIGURE 268]

Many volunteer companies used the designation "Rifle Guards," and this plate with the initials "C R G" probably falls into such a category.

The "C," of course, cannot be identified. The monogram is of pewter and has three round lugs fitted through holes in the plate proper for attachment with pins. The plate itself has a safety pin soldered to the reverse for attachment.

SHOULDER-BELT PLATE, SCOTT LEGION(?), C. 1850

_USNM 604347-M (S-K 503). Figure 269._

[Illustration: FIGURE 269]

Although this plate bearing the profile of Gen. Winfield Scott is very similar in design and construction to several bearing the head of Washington and dated much earlier, it is believed to postdate the War with Mexico when Scott's popularity was at its zenith. There were several volunteer units called "Scott Legion" during this period. The piece was struck, with a tin backing applied, and the edges of the obverse were then crimped over. It is fitted with three wire staples for attachment.

SHOULDER-BELT PLATE, C. 1850

_USNM 604327-M (S-K 483). Figure 270._

[Illustration: FIGURE 270]

This is a stock pattern in cast brass. It is oval with raised edges and has a white-metal "F" applied with simple wire fasteners. Although the piece has the appearance of a waist-belt plate or cartridge-box plate, the wire fasteners on the reverse indicate that it was intended for shoulder-belt wear. In the national collections is a similar plate with the letter "I," indicating that the letters designate companies of larger units rather than a unit itself.

SHOULDER-BELT PLATE, ARTILLERY, C. 1850

_USNM 604356-M (S-K 512). Figure 271._

[Illustration: FIGURE 271]

This rolled-brass plate with a wire-applied silvered "A" and pile of cannon balls topped by the hand die-struck motto "ALWAYS READY" is unidentified beyond the fact that it was worn by a member of Company A of a Militia unit using a popular motto. Similar specimens in the national collections have center letters "B," "D," and "E." The plate was attached to the shoulder belt by means of two flat brass fasteners soldered to the reverse. The fasteners are almost as wide as the plate itself.

BALDRIC DEVICE, C. 1850

_USNM 60409-M (S-K 165). Figure 272._

[Illustration: FIGURE 272]

The baldric is a highly ornamented wide sash normally worn by drum majors and sometimes by band leaders. During at least part of the Civil War, baldrics were worn by some aides-de-camp, and the 1902 uniform regulations specified them for Signal Corps officers. This specimen and the one that follows are the earlier of several examples in the national collections; they fall in the early 1850's. The shield, suspended from a lion's mouth by small chains, carries an eagle with a shield on its breast. The stars and edge of clouds, above, are somewhat similar to those on the 1851 regulation waist-belt plate. The whole is superimposed on a three-quarter sunburst. Both the lion's head and the shield are fitted with simple wire fasteners for attachment.

BALDRIC DEVICE AND BALDRIC, C. 1850

_USNM 66622-M. Figure 273._

[Illustration: FIGURE 273]

The device is attached to a red, gold-edged-embroidered baldric worn by the drum major of the 72d New York Militia during the Civil War but believed to ante-date 1861. The brass shield, with ebony drum sticks, is suspended from an eagle of the 1834 Regular Army pattern for wear as a cap device. The shield, convex with beveled edges, is very similar to waist-belt and shoulder-belt plates of about 1850.

-- Few Militia gorgets are known, and this scarcity leads us to believe that few were made and worn, despite the Militia's love for the "gay and gaudy." Still, some units did adopt them, and officers of the Portland [Maine] Rifle Corps were still wearing them in the late 1850's.[145] As a military symbol for officers, the gorget passed its zenith in the late 18th century. Gorgets were worn during the War of the Revolution by both American and British officers, and the British also gave them to Indian chiefs as marks of authority. Officers in at least one regiment of the Regular Establishment wore them as part of their regulation dress about the turn of the 19th century, but they were not a part of the prescribed uniform during or after the War of 1812.

[Footnote 145: In the national collections are a uniform jacket, chapeau, and gorget once owned by Frederick Forsyth, a member of the Portland Rifle Corps in 1857.]

GORGET, C. 1821(?)

_USNM 60311-M (S-K 67B). Figure 274._

[Illustration: FIGURE 274]

This gorget, of gilded brass, is of 2-piece construction. The eagle-on-clouds, very similar to cockade eagles worn in 1808-1821, is attached by four wire fasteners rather than brazed. The engraved edging on the gorget proper is rather crudely done. Although composite insignia did not come into general use until the mid-1830's, it seems reasonable to assume that this particular design of the eagle device applied to the chapeau might equally have been applied to a gorget. A similar specimen in the national collections has a silver-on-copper eagle instead of a brass one.

GORGET, C. 1830-1840

_USNM 60310-M (S-K 67A). Figure 275._

[Illustration: FIGURE 275]

This gorget is of 3-piece construction, the specimen proper being of brass and the wreath and eagle of gilded brass applied with wire fasteners. Although the eagle is of the early "on-clouds" design, the feel of the piece is later, and this, together with the rather wide crescent indicate that it belongs to the period of the 1830's and 1840's.

GORGET, STATE FENCIBLES, NEW YORK, C. 1840-1850

_USNM 60309-M (S-K 66). Figure 276._

[Illustration: FIGURE 276]

This brass gorget, with wreath and letters in applied silver, is an example of one of the later types worn by Militia. The letters "S F"

are interpreted as "State Fencibles," and the "Excelsior" buttons on the ends of the crescent identify the origin of the unit as New York State. Fencibles were basically troop units organized for home defense only. There was a volunteer Militia company called the "State Fencibles" in New York City as early as 1800. It apparently lost its identity as such in 1847 or 1848 when the organization split, half entering the 8th Regiment and half entering the 9th Regiment of New York State Militia.[146]

[Footnote 146: Personal communication from Frederick P. Todd, July 6, 1960. Mr. Todd is the foremost authority on New York Militia units.]

U.S. Government Printing Office: 1963

American Military Insignia 1800-1851 Part 32

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