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M1878 Merriam Pack


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#1 New Romantic

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 12:08 AM

I just aquired this 1894 dated Merriam Pack for $68 from eBay. This is the pack used from the Indian Wars though the Spanish-American War and it was loathed by the soldiers who used it.

The pack has an interior metal frame, and the two hickory sticks on each side were meant to ease the weight on the soldier's back. All straps are present- those on the top and side were for the shelter half/ blanket and those on the bottom were for the overcoat. The only way to access the pack was through the backside, quite unusual and probably one of the many reasons soldier's disliked it.

The pack is marked to the 362nd Infantry? Was this recalled for used stateside during WWI? Webcat had mentioned many M1878 blanket bags were bought back from Bannerman's to temporarily equip soldiers in the states during WWI.

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#2 New Romantic

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 12:09 AM

View of the suspenders.

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#3 New Romantic

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 12:10 AM

Instructions for use found printed on cardboard inside the pack. Note the depot inspector's marking and date.

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#4 New Romantic

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 12:12 AM

A few period images.

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#5 atb

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 10:41 AM

More than likely the "74" is the unit number in the New York National Guard for the 74th Company or 74th Regiment. "362" would be the man's number within the unit or the NYG, I think. The Merriam pack was tried out, but not adopted by the Regular Army. Most of these type of packs I have seen have been used by the New York National Guard.

#6 Polygon

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 11:01 PM

There is a militaria store in Gettysburg, PA where I picked up my first Merriam pack for $50 that was also reported to have come from that island after many years in storage. I agree that the top number is definitely regimental while the lower one is that belonging to the individual soldier.

These seem to be undervalued pieces of militaria, and they are fascinating packs to collect when they are found stamped with unit information. The Merriam packs are basically the last "hard pack" before WW1 and the M1910.

Edited by Polygon, 12 June 2007 - 11:02 PM.


#7 US CANTEEN GURU

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 12:13 AM

In my research I came across references to a trial of a small number of improved Miriam packs around 1902. Rock Island Arsenal museum has an example that is probably from that trial. This pack and others (still in the RIA museum) were examined by the 1909-10 Infantry Equipment Board.

Except for trials the Army never acquired Miriam packs.

The marking you show in your image is not for the "depot" inspector but rather the "inspector general" "S.N.Y." (State of New York). Apparently some states had people inspect acquired equipment in an acceptance process. I have also examined items marked by the inspector general department for Pennsylvania.

The "74" on the pack is no doubt the famous 74th New York Infantry Regiment. The 362 is probably the "soldier's number" but is an extremely large number for a company. Perhaps these packs were issued by the State AG or Regimental supply.

Mirriam packs have not been of much interest by collectors and have been a sort of white elephant. When I was foolishly collecting in the 1960s these packs were available in quantity and at bargain prices.

There are two circa 1898 images of soldiers of the 74th New York using these packs preparing to board trains. It is likely that contemporaneous with federalization the state property was turned in and the Army regulation equipment supplied.

Edited by US CANTEEN GURU, 13 June 2007 - 12:16 AM.


#8 New Romantic

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 03:57 AM

Thanks for the great info guys. I too have noticed most of these are marked to New York militia units. The number 362 did have me confused, as US Canteen Guru had mentioned that the number is unusually large for a company.

It is quite an interesting pack, too bad it has that horrible stain on the number '74'. Right now I'm letting the pack air out b/c it is bit musty. Someday I do hope to make an upgrade if I find a pack with really nice straps. Still this will be great for my volunteer display.


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