REVOLUTIONARY WAR CANTEEN FOUND IN VIRGINIA

REVOLUTIONARY WAR CANTEEN FOUND IN VIRGINIA

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Revolutionary War Canteen Found in Virginia

Revolutionary War canteen with a red painted body that measures 6 1/2” diameter x 2” wide. This is the style used in the American Revolutionary War from about 1777 by order of local Committees of Safety in each colony for their militia. Old cork plug on top with three small leather loops for strap that are missing but the original forged nails are still present. Excellent condition, retaining 80 to 90% of original paint on the cedar or oak band and 30% original paint on both sides that appear to be yellow pine. Some scattered marks from use and some edge wear. Found in Floyd County, VA by Al Hillman, Roanoke, VA in 1970’s. Nice original Rev War canteen that has not been cleaned.

 

THE “CHEESE BOX” CANTEEN

Made by “Coopers” experience in making compact articles for domestic use, the “cheese box” canteen was simply a strip of oak or cedar formed around circular sides of usually yellow pine wood. Small iron forged nails were peened through the overlapping rim and even smaller nails or wooden pegs fastened it to the sides. It appears that the “cheese box” style was locally produced predominately at the request of local Committee of Safety at the request of George Washington for his Continental Army.

While the Continental Forces certainly preferred lightweight tin water vessels like those carried by the British soldier, stocks of that metal dried up even before the Revolution was a year old as the British blockade of American seaports tightened. By the spring of 1776, with the summer campaign ahead, the availability of canteens of any kind was essentially gone and General George Washington requested Committees of Safety turned to the production of wooden canteens to issue its troops by local coopers. Of course, wood was abundant in America and the only metal the colonies could produce, iron, was far too heavy to use for this purpose. Two styles emerged: the “drum” and “cheesebox.” Even with rushed production efforts, the army remained urgently in need of canteens through that summer. It was not until well into 1777 that production had finally reached a point where the Continental Army was able to fulfill the needs of its rank and file and actually begin building up a stockpile. However, even with an improving system of supply, the availability of canteens varied throughout the war. The Cheese Box style was faster for coopers to make having fewer parts in it construction. They were also lighter to carry with fewer seams therefore seal quicker.

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