Monday, January 18, 2010

The Things They Were Given

Many of you are familiar with Tim O’Brien’s book, The Things They Carried. This book is about the Vietnam war. Well, I’ve slightly reordered the title for today’s post: “The Things They Were Given.”

There were numerous objects presented to officers (usually) by their men. The men of the 1st NCST presented Matt Ransom a sword in 1861. Zeb Vance was presented a .31 cal. Colt pistol in December 1861 by the men of the 26th NCT. Brig. Gen. James H. Lane was presented a saddle, bridle, sash, and sword by his men toward the end of March 1863. In 1861, the men of the 1st NC Volunteers had presented Lane with a sword, bridle, saddle, and two pieces of plate silver. I have even read of uniforms being presented. Probably the most famous would be the gift of a uniform to Stonewall Jackson by JEB Stuart.

This month’s issue of Confederate Veteran brought an interesting story, or item, to add to that list of presentation materials. According to an article by Bill Young, it seems that the men of the 11th North Carolina Troops (Bethel Regiment) presented their colonel, Collett Leventhorpe, with a cased set of boot jacks. According to the article, on the outside of the wooden case are :two delicate, sterling silver oval plates fastened… with silver pins. The ovals had delicate rope borders and were handsomely engraved in a jewelers flowing script. One plate read “To Col. Collett Leventhorpe – C. S. A. – 1862,” and the other read, “From his comrades in the Bethel Regt.”

The article goes on to state that the boot jacks came out of an attic in upstate New York. The author writes that he “figured that some Yankee soldier took it home as a souvenir…” An plausible idea is that Leventhorpe was forced to sell the book jacks when he was incarcerated after his capture at Gettysburg.

That is a first for me – a presentation set of boot jacks.

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