Original U.S. Civil War Enlisted Man’s Shoulder Scales

Item Description

Original Items: Only Ones Available. Complete pair of Civil War Shoulder Scales with mounting implements. Light artillery, cavalry troops, and some Non Commissioned Officers, musicians and privates of infantry units went to the front decorated with brass scales on their shoulders. Shoulder scales were originally designed to be a form of body armor. The idea was that if a soldier wearing these was struck down by a swordsman, the blow would be diminished by the protecting scales. However, by the American Civil War these scales were worn by Enlisted and NCOs as part of their dress uniform and not for protection.
Made of brass, there are six scales attached to a pan, held together with a thin iron sheet, a brass strip soldered to the pan, and attached to the bottom with a thumb turn, would fit under a brass clip sewed onto the jacket.  Construction is fragile and most are found broken. The pair is in “as found” condition, exhibiting a rich mellow patina.
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