Original U.S. Civil War Federal Cartridge Box Plate Lot Ground Dug At The Location of the Battle of the Wilderness - 2 Items

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Lot of 2 Available. This is a lovely pair of box plates which was ground dug at the Battle of the Wilderness location in 1962. The Battle of the Wilderness was fought on May 5–7, 1864, during the American Civil War. It was the first battle of Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The fighting occurred in a wooded area near Locust Grove, Virginia, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Fredericksburg. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, nearly 29,000 in total, a harbinger of a war of attrition by Grant against Lee's army and, eventually, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. The battle was tactically inconclusive, as Grant disengaged and continued his offensive.

The Items In This Lot:
- Cartridge Box Sling Eagle Breast Plate: Pattern 1826 Eagle Breast Plate with lead filled back. Both mounting loops are no longer present. The front brass face has fantastic crisp details and has aged wonderfully.

- Pattern 1861 Cartridge Box Plate: This is a genuine Pattern 1861 pattern Federal issue leather cartridge box front plate. A nice issued example, ready to display or to dress up a cartridge box that has lost the front plate.

The front plate is the standard brass with tin plating on the back, with two loops on the end for attachment. Normally it would be held onto the front of a cartridge box with a small leather strap. It has some slight denting on one side and finish loss, but overall looks incredible for the age and having been ground dug.

Comes more than ready for display.

In the early years of the American nation, the need for a national symbol was acutely felt. The new nation appropriated many existing symbolic forms, but none were to become as pervasive as the eagle.

Before the eagle was officially sanctioned as the symbol for the United States, however, a partially clothed, indigenous woman wearing a feather headdress had served that function. This representation soon gave way to goddess-like personifications of the social virtues upon which the United States was founded. The most widespread example in the visual arts is Edward Savage’s print of his painting Liberty (46.67.85). Liberty, who appears in contemporary dress, gives nourishment to the bald eagle. The figure is a variation on the Goddess of Youth, yet the staff in the background, surmounted by Liberty’s cap, clearly signifies her new identity. This print was copied in paintings, embroidery, and Chinese reverse-painted glass for the American market. However, an emblem of a civic virtue such as Liberty was too complicated to serve as a national symbol. In Savage’s print,
it is as if Liberty were passing the torch to the eagle to take up this purpose.

In 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee to design an official seal for the country to accompany its newly minted. Finally, in 1782, a design was accepted. Its main feature was an eagle, the ancient symbol of Jupiter, king of the gods, and, therefore, a symbol of ultimate authority (69.141.1a–d). The young nation was eager to model many of its institutions on the Roman Republic, so the eagle, proposed by Pennsylvania scholar William Barton, seemed a natural choice despite Benjamin Franklin’s preference for the turkey. Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress, modified the design by inserting an American bald eagle, which perfectly blended the classical symbol with a species native to the New World (62.256.3). The eagle holds arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other, symbolizing its birth in warfare but its hope for a prosperous, peaceful nation.

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