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American Military Insignia 1800-1851 by Campbell

Illustration FIGURE 274 This gorget


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


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