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Ben Townsend
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Ben Townsend
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August 30th, 2008, 7:07 pm #11

More Frank Packer on B.O. markings.
" Next Napoleonic event you go to, have a look at how many British infantry re-enactors have put a B O stamp on their canteen and haversack. The Board of Ordnance did not issue these pieces of equipment to infantry until after 1821. We've known this since, well, 1821. This isn't some arcane piece of knowledge pulled from an obscure reference: the transfer of the Commissariat to the Ordnance in 1821 was discussed at the highest levels at the time and is even mentioned in Wellington's correspondence. But... somewhere along the line someone has seen a Victorian canteen in a collection with B O markings, believed that nothing ever changed from Waterloo to the Crimea, and Hey Presto! instant anachronism! Although these 're-enactorisms' start easily enough, they are very difficult to eliminate once they become entrenched".

Quoted from Frank Packer on open forum at http://skirmishmagazine.ning.com/forum/ ... 1#comments
Living History Worldwide, the Skirmish magazine site.

Rifleman LaLa
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Ben Townsend
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October 4th, 2008, 7:13 am #12

Just to labour this point, (and personally I was backsliding on a small BO brand because I have great respect for Sean's research), Frank Packer has this to say. I archive it here for the sake of posterity, although Frank originlly made these comments on the 'Skirmish' Living history forums, where he is making some fascinating points to a rapt audience and two idiots (Paul D and 'Lasalle' hold your hands up).

"Since LaSalle has decided to 'poke the bear' regarding the B O markings, you will all have to suffer a longer explanation of why the marking is completely wrong for an infantryman:

During the first half of the 18th century, regiments selected to go on active service were paid an extra-ordinary payment, over and above the normal annual payments made to the colonels. These 'Extra-ordinaries' were to cover the extra costs of items such as camp equipage -- haversacks, canteens, tents. The items were bought by the regiments themselves through their regimental agents, and were their own property, not the government's at all.

Under the normal system of activation, and of campaigns which began in the Spring and went into Winter quarters in October, the system worked well enough. There were some problems of providing camp equipment during the Seven Years War, and the system collapsed completely during the American Revolution. To fill the gap the Army itself, through the office of the Secretary at War, ordered quantities of camp equipment and deducted the cost from the Extra-ordinaries paid to the unit, issuing the equipment instead. The Treasury itself also ordered and issued camp equipment, based on the authority and approval of the Comptrollers of Army Accounts, the office which oversaw every Army expenditure.

At the end of the Revolution the British goverment attempted to bring camp equipment supply back in line with the 'official' (legal!) method of regiments buying their own, and with the Army and government stepping back. A partial mobilisation of the Army in 1786 was an expensive disaster from a logistical point of view, and the Army administration decided that central purchasing of camp equipment from a single provider would be the best course. So in 1787, the Trotter company was given a monopoly of providing all camp equipment to the Army; which was a bit ironic, since it was the Trotter exploitation of a bureaucratic loophole which had made the old system so expensive. (Basically, they sold the Army back it's own equipment... repeatedly!!)

The Trotter monopoly on haversacks and canteens held until 1806 -- the provision of tents was lost about 1803. In 1806 the Treasury 'had a cow' over a long string of fiscal irregularities, accounting mismanagement, insurance fraud, and other assorted naughtiness happening between the Secretary at War office and the Trotter company, and the Trotters were essentially banned. Almost no purchasing of Army equipment was needed from then until 1808 while they sorted out what to do (an indication of the largesse and over-spending going on).

In 1808 new regulations came through for Army equipment. Camp equipment was stored and issued by the Storekeeper-General's Department, a branch of the Treasury. Camp equipment was contracted for and paid for by the Commissariat; another branch of the Treasury. Officers of the SGD were not expected to operate outside of the British Isles, so the responsibility was assigned to the Quartermaster branch of the Army to issue this equipment overseas. In reality, SGD officials worked in Spain and the Netherlands from 1809 to 1815, and were also present in France during the occupation.

With peace restored, the work of the SGD lessened, and in the cost-cutting post-war mood its expense seemed a bit much. The functions of the SGD were amalgamated into the Commissariat in 1821, still under Treasury control. In 1822, the Commissariat itself (and its responsibility for camp equipment) was transferred to the Ordnance, also as a cost-cutting measure. In 1854, the Ordnance and all its responibilities finally fall under Army authority when the newly-revamped War Department is formed.

So, to recap: prior to 1787 camp equipment might be purchased by the regiment, by the Army, or by the Treasury; but the ultimate owner was still the regiment as they were paid for out of their funds. Between 1787 and 1806, canteens and haversacks would be ordered by the Army, and either remained Army property 'on loan' to units until returned, or owned by the unit outright (both events seem to have happened). After 1808, and until 1822, canteens and haversacks were purchased by the Treasury, issued by the SGD (Treasury) or Quartermaster (Army), and on loan to units (that is, expected to be returned or accounted for).

There is, throughout the entire period of the Napoleonic Wars, one Department, one branch of government, one BOARD which is completely and utterly uninvolved in the contracting, purchasing, storage, issuance, or upkeep of canteens and haversacks for Army regiments -- the Ordnance! The Ordnance Board would have had the full responsibility for clothing and equipping only its own rankers, that is, the Artillery and the Sappers and Miners. It also had the responsibility to issue arms and accoutrements to the Army, but never canteens and haversacks until it absorbed the Commissariat post-war.

I cannot see how there can really be any dispute about this, as every primary source I have seen states exactly the same thing that I have recorded here. As I said early on in this thread -- this is not arcane obscure stuff. Sure you can find this throughout the Treasury and War Office documents at the PRO; but no-one needs to travel to Kew. Glenn Steppler's Doctoral thesis lays most of this out, Norman Baker's 'Government and Contractors' covers the American Revolution period, the three published volumes of post-Rev Parlimentary investigations into Army expenditure should be available in most university libraries, along with the fifteen reports of military enquiry published during the Napoleonic Wars, many other works on 18th century finance, and, as also mentioned... Wellington's Dispatches.

I do realise that most re-enactors do not get into the hobby out of a love for logistics and finance! So I do not expect everyone to have an interest in knowing all of the sources backwards and forwards, the problem lies more in the intermediaries writing and transmitting this information for public consumption. So I am sympathetic -- up to a point!

On the other hand, I must sputter indignantly when scholarly works, doctoral theses, authors that actually use footnotes, researchers who have dedicated years to the subject of Army finance and structure, and linear feet upon linear feet of archival documents are placed upon one end of a scale, with... something, anything (please let me know!) on the other side, and a declaration is made that somehow the matter is under debate -- as if the two sides weigh equally!

There is NO situation within the NORMAL course of operations, where an infantryman would receive a canteen from the Ordnance during the Napoleonic Wars. There is NO documented unusual situation within an EXCEPTIONAL course of operations where an infantryman has received a canteen from the Ordnance, that I have ever found. I really would like someone to turn up a situation or two, or even an ambiguous case, so that at least I could stop banging my head wondering why there is a BO fan club!"

Sorry for such a long post, and to Frank for quoting him at such length, but I think it is time to lay this one to bed, if only to stop Frank from having a heart attack.
Last edited by Ben Townsend on October 5th, 2008, 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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The Sarge!
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October 5th, 2008, 8:04 am #13

so that means no BO on our kit then?
C/Sjt Blake
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Here's to the Bloody Fighting 95th, the first into the fray and the last out of it!

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Ben Townsend
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October 5th, 2008, 8:55 am #14

Certainly not on haversacks or canteens. And we don't mark  our haversacks like that anyway, in fact, I washed my haversack twice and the regimental markings have faded to the point where they resemble a dog cocking its leg more than anything else. Its quite uncanny.

If Dave ever gets his ammo box to sit on, and thanks Sylvene, for providing some great info on that, he could have a BO brand on that.

Sean P makes the pertinent point that the hand-painting we use at the mo' is a must for canteen markings, and I'm with the Sarge on having regimental motif or numerals on the front, and soldier's number on the back. Anyone got better suggestions?

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Ben Townsend
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October 7th, 2008, 4:52 pm #15

Clarification?

p.64
STATEMENT of the Articles which are issued from the
Ordnance department:
To Regiments of
Infantry

Serjeants Spears
Rifles with Sword
Bayonets
Musquets for Pioneers.
Fusils with Ramrods,
Bayonets and Scabbards
Musquets with
Ramrods, Bayonets and
Scabbards
Drums with Sticks
Bugles for Light
Infantry
A portable Forge for the
Armourer, with a Chest
of Armours Tools
Magazines

From the King's regs 1811.

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khazzard2000
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October 13th, 2008, 2:46 pm #16

hi guys, i have put together a small article (most of it is actually Mr Packer's words) on canteens to go out to the 3/95th as a whole. Please take a look and point out any blunders. Cheers.

http://www.95thrifles.com/95th/forum/in ... opic=797.0
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Ben Townsend
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October 13th, 2008, 6:31 pm #17

Kieran, all I would say, on a brief read-through is that Pierre Turner says, and I have also found this to be the case, that the vast majority of surviving canteens, albeit most of them are mid C19th, have no painted markings, those he illustrates being the exception rather than the rule. This would lead me to the conclusion that the markings ought to be minimal or absent. However, accepting that we re-enactors are, as a rule, tarts, and I don't except myself from that, some sort of marking seems inevitable; its not like the uniform leaves us much room for self-expression!
Your marking options seem ok to me, as do those we propose to adopt. Paul, perhaps you could post some more pics from the AWI canteens in the Collector's Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. I think they are rebel canteens as we only adopted the barrel canteen after admiring it during this conflict, but they give some idea of markings.

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Frank Packer
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October 19th, 2008, 4:10 pm #18

I've sent this to Kieran already, but may be of interest to this board generally, regarding marked/unmarked canteens...

Regarding the possibility of unmarked canteens, I recently re-discovered this in a recommendation from a Board of General Officers:

"The Board having taken into consideration the numerous deficiencies which occur in most Regiments, in the equipment of Canteens and Haversacks, the frequent supply of which is attended with so great expence to the Public, take the liberty of suggesting, that some general Regulation should be made for obviating these inconveniences, by which Soldiers should be required to preserve in a serviceable state their Canteens and Haversacks, as well as every other Article of Equipment; and any deficiencies, arising from carelessness or neglect, they should be required immediately to make good.-- This very desirable object might certainly be attained, by frequent Regimental and Company inspections, when any damages would... [end of page -- no further pages copied]"

[Board of General Officers, Miscellaneous Reports, 29th June 1811. NA PRO WO7/56,p.100]

This seems to suggest that from 1808 to at least 1811, there is no system in place to keep track of or account for the canteens and haversacks given out to the men; and presumably no process for returning these items nor inspecting them on return, as no one seems to know who has what or in what condition it is. There would be little point in the issuing department marking them under these circumstances, and this appears to agree with the large numbers of unmarked canteens which you have noted. Marking would be more a matter of an individual not wanting to lose something useful, than official policy.

And just to mess with everyones head -- a canteen which came up for auction several years ago.  No provenance, IIRC.

FWIW
Frank

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Drew
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October 19th, 2008, 6:56 pm #19

Ref to Franks picture:

Since all I have for reference to canteens is Turner and it's artwork I have a few comments.

I see this canteens as the 1854 General Service issue (listed in Turners book), the reason for this are:

1. The spout of the canteen is squared (1812 is chamfered).

2. The iron keepers a located on the 4th oak panel (1812 is located closer to the intersection of the 3rd and 4th)

3. The circular board is chamfered in towards its contents.

Two things spring to mind, either what we are looking at is someone playing tricks and placing GR on the canteen for giggles or that Turner has called this type of canteen by the wrong name, i.e. the 1854. In the blurb under the canteen it states that "This pattern of water bottle or canteen came into use in the last years of the eighteenth century...", can you see where I am coming from?
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Ben Townsend
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October 20th, 2008, 7:39 am #20

We all agree that the vast majority of canteens extant are unmarked, but, perhaps because of this, our interest is drawn to those that are marked. The fashion for the water barrel canteen appears to have come back from North America with the Regulars who served there, and there is a huge quantity of canteens in North America running from AWI to ACW, many are marked, often with unit designations, sometimes with manufacturers marks and owners' numbers/initials/doodles, showing that this was common whence said fashion originated.
As we know, the regimental system fosters and propagates marks of distinction and the surface of the canteen seems too good an opportunity to let pass up. I think that it is entirely probable that units marked their canteens at some level between regimental and company. There is evidence that in addition to individual's issued kit, extra haversacks and canteens were kept as 'company property' these items being issued to official foragers as needed, and as with all other company property, it was ultimately the Captains' responsibility to ensure the property was accounted for. If you were he, or his QM, would you not slap some paint on the damn things?
All these things point towards a suppositional possibility of markings for our canteens, and although I know we are not on the steadiest of ground, the desire for regimental distinction is strong in re-enactment units, just as it is in real regiments, though perhaps less well grounded, and I think that some kind of marking is likely to happen in the 2/95th. :P
For those who feel that this is letting down our high standards of proof and demonstration, I crave your indulgence for this uncharacteristic flourish of artistic licence. If it comes down to it, we have no positive proof that the 95th carried barrel canteens yet, that being another supposition..

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