Civil War Shoemaking

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tmattimore

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#76 Post by tmattimore » Fri Oct 10, 2003 3:30 pm

Dave
Which book was this from? Any pics of the dug shoes you mentioned?
Tom

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#77 Post by Jarnagin » Tue Oct 14, 2003 8:47 am

Tom,

The information comes from two different books on tanning. One dated 1852 and the other is the second edition printed in 1867. If you are looking for information on shoes the best book is Proctor’s book printed in the 1880’s. This book has no date and only by reading parts of the book have I guessed that it was printed in the middle 1880’s. The problem with Proctor’s book the fact that he is a true leather chemist and it can be hard to understand parts of it without a degree in chemistry.

I will post pictures of the shoe and boots when I get through with the conservation of the items. The picture I took before I started the process was just enough to help me remember which parts go with which shoe.

I have some more information for you and I will send in an e-mail to you.

Thanks

David

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#78 Post by Jarnagin » Tue Oct 14, 2003 12:47 pm

This is the first reference I have found to the use of aniline dyes.

A. Williamson and Sons. of Albany New York

In this establishment colored sheep-skin is principally used for shoe-bindings. This establishment is to our knowledge the first which applies (in this country ) aniline dyes on leather. The colors thus produced are magnificent. However, we do not recommend them, as they have no stability.

This firm tanned morocco leathers. Morocco leather where known for there bright colors.

This was printed in The Arts of Tanning, Currying, and Leather – Dressing. Printed in 1867.

David

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#79 Post by das » Wed Nov 19, 2003 10:43 am

Just ran up on this 1911 ref. to waxed calf currying.

http://28.1911encyclopedia.org/L/LE/LEATHER.htm

Go to link, then it's most of the way down the page. Beware, there're lots of typos.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#80 Post by Jarnagin » Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:29 pm

http://www.jarnaginco.com/Artillery%20boots.htm

I have put up a link with pictures of an original pair of Civil War boots. We have owned these boots for over 30 years and all the insect damage to the top of the one boot was present at the time of purchase. Most of the leather lining in the top of both boots is gone. From what remains it appeared a stained leather of about 1 ½ - 2 ounces. The cloth boot pulls are a light green with a yellow strip down the center. I have no idea what the original color of these pulls looked like but that the color described is what they are now.

These boots had a cloth covered cork insoles and with the insoles missing in spots you can see the paper underneath between the cork and leather. There are areas where the original finish is still present and it can be found in the pictures.

Next the double row pegging in the instep there are 3 square iron nails evenly spaced between the heel and half sole. This is found on both sides of the instep. These boots have mostly stirrup wear.

The knife was used to make the front of the heel square and even. The first layer of sole underneath the heel bears the cut of the knife used to straighten the heel.

Split leather was used for the back of both boots.

A couple of things I learned for the boots that came out the well in Corinth was that the counter had several extra layers of leather hidden underneath. Means two to three piece of leather were added between the counter and the back of the boot. The shanks were fashioned out of sole leather and then trimmed to shape. All of the boots recovered had the uppers pieced like the boots in the pictures.

David Jarnagin
djarnagin@bellsouth.net
www.jarnaginco.com
www.jarnaginco.com/leather%20definitions%20index.htm
www.jarnaginco.com/leather%20preservation%20original.htm

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#81 Post by ken_irvin » Sun Aug 08, 2004 12:35 pm

Hello,

I have been looking at the Cunningham letter that Tom had referenced in a previous reply. It is from a Confederate QM officer to basically his boss, extolling him for more men so he can produce more shoes. He describes the process of production. He states that he has the uppers closed by machine. I am interested in what sewing machines were capable of stitching upper leather, hand crank, steam belt, treadle? Anyone?

Thanks, ken

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#82 Post by das » Mon Aug 09, 2004 4:48 am

Ken,

Is that Cunningham letter posted in its entirety on-line someplace? If not, can you transcribe it here?

Get a hold of: 'The Invention of the Sewing Machine' by Cooper, [Smithsonian Bulletin #254], 1968. There is also a lot on-line if you search "early sewing machines". From a quick scan through Cooper just now, there were a number of choices through the 1850s, so by the 1860s lord only knows. Hand-cranked as well as treadle, but any of them might run off of drive belting from an overhead shaft, and that might be steam or water powered in a "factory" setting.

The only immediate "problem" I see in the Cooper's book, all the early ones shown are flat-beds, and for making "brogans", bootees, or one-piece quarters, I'd assume you'd want a heavy-duty cylinder arm. Search the Forum I archives. I seem to recall this was discussed on here years ago, and somebody found a reference to an 1850s cylinder-arm lock-stitch machine that might fit the bill.

One of the oldest shoe company in VA I can recall, in continual operation from c.1812 until maybe 1980, was... I forgot the name. They made "Battle Ax" brand boots... oh damn, what was their name...? It'll come to me. Putney Shoe Co., that's it! Anyway, their last "old" factory still stands on West Broad Street just outside of Richmond. It's housed the Department of Motor Vehicles for years, but they left the old 19thc. overhead shafting in place. Whether Putney did any contracting to the Confederate war-effort, I cannot say.

Interestingly, the US Army QM only reluctantly accepted machine-sewn shoes as the war dragged on, and only after MacKay sold them on the efficacy of his chain-stitch sole-sewer. Never run across any Federal refs. to machined uppers in the 1860s. Tell us more if you find out.

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#83 Post by das » Mon Aug 09, 2004 5:03 am

Ken,

This is an excerpt from an interesting article I just found on-line from the Company of Military Historian's website, by Les Jensen:

" By 6 September [1861], a Clothing Bureau had been set up in Richmond to manufacture clothing, one of several that would eventually supply the armies across the Confederacy. 28 This Clothing Bureau had two branches: the Shoe Manufactory under Captain Stephen Putney and the Clothing Manufactory under O.F. Weisiger. Weisiger, a former Richmond dry goods merchant, ran the Manufactory as a civilian until he was commissioned a Quartermaster Captain in 1863."

Notice who runs the shoe manufactory--a Putney.

tmattimore

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#84 Post by tmattimore » Tue Aug 10, 2004 4:46 am

D.A.
I tried to put up the letter but can,t seem to do it. It is a report by Maj. Cunningham on his manufacturing efforts in atlanta. I will try again later this evening. He is quite proud of sole cutting equipment, apparently smuggled in, that cut bends into strips and punched soles. Strap cutters and clicker press in the 1860's. His estimates of production are high but he did manage to ship some 4000 pair per month until forced to evacuate. When I first started I was able to close brogans with a flat bed by removing it to a table with no end there by turning it into a fat cylinder arm. By the 1860's boston factories were closing entirely by machine(see the Lucy Brown interview in Hazards book). Another technique I tried was to sew from the inside of the upper pulling one end out of the way but I sometimes missed the edge.
I did a little research on Capt. Putney. Before the war he owned a small shoe factory Called the Richmond Shoe Manufactory In 1863 he was court maritaled but I can find no record of the charges. It could not be too serious as he kept his commision until the end of the war where I have lost track of him. This may be the same fellow. If you wish the Official records of the war of the Rebbelion are on line and a search should pull only three refrences to Maj. Cunningham

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#85 Post by das » Tue Aug 10, 2004 7:05 am

Ken,

Thanks! Keep a-digging.

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#86 Post by das » Tue Aug 10, 2004 7:12 am

Tom, sorry I caled you Ken there.

Anyway, try this link, the last item. Is that it?

http://www.bookguy.com/Catalog/Military/sewing_machines.htm

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#87 Post by das » Tue Aug 10, 2004 9:34 am

Or is this it:

QUARTERMASTER'S DEPOT,
Atlanta, Ga., April 9, 1863.

“After being rolled, the strips of leather are passed to another machine,called the sole-cutter, a small machine worked by one man, which will easily cut 900 pairs soles per day, and that also at a great saving of leather when compared with the old plan of cutting by hand. The soles are all cut the exact size needed, and are paired off ready for issue to the shoemakers.
The uppers are cut by hand, but are closed or sewed by sewing-machines, which also saves the employment of a number of hands, and hence assists to reduce the cost of the shoe. The soles and uppers are then issued to the shoemakers to put together and finish.”

“This factory with its machinery can employ 100 shoemakers, in addition to the leather finishers and men attending the machines. At present I have only 33 shoemakers, and the machines are not kept at work more than one-third the time….”
“I find great difficulty in doing efficient work with the class of men detailed to me from the army. Under the orders of the Secretary of War, only such men can be detailed who are unfit for field duty, and, in their anxiety to be detached, many represent themselves as shoemakers who are really only cobblers, and thus much valuable and scarce material is wasted...”

"If the President will issue a special order allowing me to have detailed from the Army of Tennessee 60 shoemakers and 2 leather finishers, such as may select without regard to their physical condition, I will pledge myself to make 500 pairs shoes per day at less cost and of equal quality with any produced in the Confederacy."

G. W. CUNNINGHAM.
Major and Quartermaster.
P768 Series 1, vol. 23, Part 2

tmattimore

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#88 Post by tmattimore » Tue Aug 10, 2004 10:37 am

D.A.
Thats the one. I recall there is another paragraph where he mentions splitting hides to increase his production of upper leather. Unfortunatly I have never found or seen a bona fide with provenance Atlanta depot shoe. I have also never found an order detaching more men to the depot. I have found a letter from Lee in late 1863 complaining of having too many men on detached service and requesting their return. 500 pair per day would have been a lofty goal indeed, one which I don't think he could have done, considering he had to compete with Gov. Joe Brown for resources. There is a line from an old blues song going to the effect "I don't want to work in Joe Browns mill no more" later done by the Dead.

Lisa Hill-Whyte

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#89 Post by Lisa Hill-Whyte » Wed Nov 10, 2004 1:10 am

Hi Have just acquired a pair of childrens shoe lasts by krentler bros. Milwaukee. Can anyone tell me about the company?

Lisa

tmattimore

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#90 Post by tmattimore » Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:28 am

I have come into possesion of a dug civil war shoe which is deteriorating rapidly. Does any one know of a formula for stabilizing very dry dirty old leather shoes. restoring it is out of the question just seeking to keep it intact.
Tmattimore

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#91 Post by das » Thu Mar 03, 2005 7:47 am

Tom,

Hummm... If it's bone dry out of the dirt, there's little you can do. If it's wet, from underwater, chances are better--keep it moist, in a plastic tub with a lid, in a refrigerator short-term until you can get it treated. First thing is to contact a conservator through a museum.

Not knowing the circumstances of how it was "dug", you might think of getting it out of your possession and to a museum anyway--you might not want it in your posession if you catch my drift Image

tmattimore

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#92 Post by tmattimore » Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:47 am

I was intending to give it to the MOC but they are strapped right now for conservation funds. It is an interesting variant and I will copy it but it might not survive the trip back east. In the spirit of Hogans Heros other than that "I know nothing"

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#93 Post by marc » Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:28 pm

Step one is to take lots of pictures of it first.

You might try sticking it in a closed plastic tub with a rolled up wet washcloth. The moisture from the cloth will increase the humidity of the air in the tub and slowly get into the leather. Then check it in a few days. If it's dried to full crumbling though, I agree with Al.

Marc

peter monahan

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#94 Post by peter monahan » Sat Nov 12, 2005 5:27 am

Good Day

I'm wondering whether anyone on this list has ever come across heart shaped heel plates on 19th century shoes. Mark Hilliard, a US Marine Corps historian posted a query on another list to which I belong and one response suggested that they might be of Civil War vintage. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Peter Monahan
a lurker and learner

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#95 Post by das » Sat Nov 12, 2005 1:38 pm

Peter,

There was a fad for fancy brass heel plates for men's boots c.1790-1810ish, see Cruickshank's 'Shoeing Asses' print. All of the surviving/dug brass ones in America I've seen [hearts, octagons, and other center hole designs] are small though, and have counter-sunk holes for screws, which suggest mid-late 1800s when boot heels got tiny. They appear in the trade catalogues 1860s and post. While they "date" to the Civil War, they are kinda fancy for soldier's IMO.

peter monahan

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#96 Post by peter monahan » Sat Nov 12, 2005 6:14 pm

Thanks Al - I was sure you'd know! I am, as ever, humbled by you're expertise and in your debt.

Best regards,
Peter

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#97 Post by das » Sun Nov 13, 2005 5:31 am

Peter,

If I could only charge for this "expertise", maybe I could get somewhere Image

peter monahan

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#98 Post by peter monahan » Mon Nov 14, 2005 4:29 am

Al

If I sent you half my profits from cobbling this month you'd still have ... nothing. Working for friends is H**l! However, when I make the pilgrimage south to your shop I shall make a point of stopping at the border bottle shop and bring libations.

Thanks again for your generosity with your time

Peter

das
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#99 Post by das » Mon Nov 14, 2005 5:13 am

Peter,

Sorry if sounded like I was kvetching. Just lamenting how generally un-marketable all this "expertise" is Image

peter monahan

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#100 Post by peter monahan » Mon Nov 14, 2005 3:42 pm

Al

And I took it as such, not a whinge! I only know about three people who make money out of being "expert in..." and they're all in show biz. Movie consultants, to be precise, which is soemwhere on the food chain between lawyers and brothel keepers in some people's estimation. :7) So... whadda ya gonna do?

P

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