Pre 1910 Haversacks
Posted 25 May 2007 - 04:12 PM
Posted 25 May 2007 - 04:14 PM
Webcat- Mar 19 2005, 02:26 PM
The first thing to state is that my interest in clothing, arms, tools, and individual equipment for the last forty years has focused on the period since the Spanish American War. That necessarily takes in any item of equipment that was used in the period of the twentieth century.
I long ago decided that though I would read about the Civil War and the earlier wars, the expense of collecting the former and the expense and scarcity of collecting the latter, precluded me as a college student and beginning civil servant from being serious about those objects.
So here goes a brief introduction to the subject of haversacks, excluding the 1910 model, which regardless of its name is not a haversack at all but a pack carrier and a poor one at that.
Here are some edited remarks I made two years ago on the Gunboards Forum.
A haversack is defined as a bag for rations, spare ammunition, and personal items carried by a sling across the body over the left hip. The canteen is usually carried on the opposite side as it is not large enough to interfere with the manipulation of the long arm and bayonet. This type of container was carried all through the colonial period and the Civil War.
It was often issued along with a similar item carried on the back that was designated as a blanket bag and was for the blanket and spare clothing. This could be carried on the transport when available. The haversack was always worn by the marching soldier.
The 1878 pattern blanket bag had not been satisfactory as it was worn over the suspenders and the design was flawed so that the straps were on the corners, not mounted centrally as civilian packs were and are so that the blanket bag shifted back and forth and put all the weight on the shoulders as well.
One of the major problems with haversacks as LBE was the lopsided load caused by the haversack on the lower left belt balanced only by the canteen. The other was the haversack catching in the brush and trailing in streams during boondock campaigns in the Phillipines. The Army had dropped the blanket bag in 1904 and officially adopted a blanket roll using the shelter half with the attached strap or with a separate leather "dog collar" type strap.
When the general orders changed the load to be smaller, the large M1904 haversack was replaced by the medium size M1908. This too was carried with a blanket roll.
No one crossed deep streams wearing a high pack, they used floats and lines to haul the packs across while swimming.
The 1874 LBE is covered in detail in a recent book on the Indian Wars of the 1870s by Douglas McChristian, published by Oklahoma.
Here is an image of the 1874 Haversack showing the buckle type suspension as it was attached by buckles a set of suspenders to the arms belt.
There was also an accompanying blanket bag which was slung on the opposite hip and had a rubberized flap. Few of these survived.
Posted 25 May 2007 - 04:15 PM
This is an image of the 1878 pattern haversack which was used and manufactured right through the SAW. The 1874 was issued indiscriminately and carried by using the sling hooks through the buckles.
Note the use of rings for the haversack strap. The strap is wider over the shoulder as compared with the canteen strap which is one width. Later the two were combined into the Canteen-Haversack Strap.
Posted 25 May 2007 - 04:17 PM
As a result of experience in Cuba during the SAW when the men were required to carry spare ammunition on their persons, the small size haversack was enlarged to carry all the prescribed items. This was designated as Model 1899 or 1899 pattern, the documentation was not found until very recently in the National Archives Annex in Illinois in the Records of the Rock Island Arsenal by a researcher who was looking for something else. Oh, serendipity!.
The large haversacks also have loops on the back. When the Model of 1903 Cartridge Belt was adopted with its accompanying suspenders, someone had the inspiration to add twisted wire hooks to the loops and eliminate the sling for the haversack, the canteen sling was replaced by a single point suspension Y-strap, designated as Model of 1903.
Posted 25 May 2007 - 04:20 PM
These views show the Model of 1904 Haversack as it was later designated. When first introduced it was considered a running change and no distinction was made between it and the 1899 pattern as they were interchangable with the addition of the twisted wire hooks to the latter.
One other major change was the addition of a removable button lining for rations which facilitated cleaning.
There was a revision in General Orders in 1907 that provided that spare ammunition would be carried on company transport, thus the size of the haversack was reduced. This medium sized haversack was designated Model of 1908 and the earlier 1904 revision was designated as Model of 1904. The 1908 pattern is the one shown in the 1908 Equipment Manual, even though the latter was not printed until 1917.
After the adoption of the 1910 LBE, the regulars adopted it at a liesurely pace, and the National Guard was not required to adopt it all. The 1914 Manual for the Organized Militia still lists the "old model".
Sometime after the adoption of the large haversacks, the earlier small patterns were all sold off. Most of them ended up in Bannerman's. When the US entered the Great War, there was a great lack of individual equipment. Though the regular infantry all had the M1910 LBE, the National Guard had a mix of the 1910 and the "old model" LBE as it was listed in the stock manuals.
So anything that could be found in 1917 was sold back to the Army. This is the reason one finds many 19th Century Indian Wars haversacks with Aero Squadron and Artillery unit markings. Also one can find remarked M1908s with the new unit numbers assigned in 1917 to eliminate the confusion that would have ensued by continuing to use the old State designations, with units of new types and new organizations.
Posted 25 May 2007 - 04:22 PM
The 1908 Haversacks were made at least until into 1915. The first ones made had a tongued buckle on the body to hold the flap strap which had metal eyelets set in.
This was soon replaced by a tongueless bar buckle.
The first production was dyed the same pale green as the M1910 LBE was. Later the cloth was left in the natural drab color.
The first image is marked 7 Ohio Infantry and has the tongued buckle. The second is marked 9 Ohio Infantry and has the tongueless bar buckle.
Posted 25 May 2007 - 04:23 PM
The 1878 and earlier patterns are visibly narrower than the later ones. They are the smalliest.
Thus the obvious sort by aixe is the medium size Model of 1908, and the large size Models of 1899 and 1904.
The M1908 haversack was used during the testing during the trials which resulted in the adoption of the abominable fair and dry weather Model of 1910 LBE which, put simply was only useful in dry conditions (as we Scouts found out in the fifties) and totally worseless in the humid tropical Phillipines and in the mud and snow of France in WWI.
Posted 25 May 2007 - 04:26 PM
Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:10 PM
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