Will Braddock’s Canteen

When Will Braddock leaves his Burlington, Iowa, home to commence his quest, as told in the early chapters of Eagle Talons, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book One, he takes with him his father’s Civil War canteen. Jonathan Braddock, Will’s father, was serving as a junior officer in the 7th Iowa Infantry, 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 16th Corps, under the command of Major General Grenville M. Dodge, when he was killed at the Battle of Atlanta in 1864. Will’s uncle, Sean Corcoran, brought Jonathan’s personal belongings, including his canteen, to the family farm in Iowa. Since the Braddock family were not well-to-do, Will’s father would have been buried on the battlefield and his body never returned to Iowa. All Will has left are his father’s various Army accoutrements: revolver, holster, bullet and percussion cap pouches, slouch hat, haversack, and canteen. Will gathers up these items the night he makes his escape from an unwanted blacksmith apprenticeship and heads west to look for General Dodge. I purposely placed Will’s father in the 7th Iowa after my research determined that this Burlington unit served under Dodge in Georgia.

[media-credit name=”Gutterman Historical Weapons” align=”alignleft” width=”263″]Civil War Smooth Sided Canteen Cover and Strap[/media-credit]

The canteen that Will loses in the stable fire in Omaha, Nebraska, was a typical Union Army oblate-spheroid model. In other words, it consisted of two shallow, bowl-shaped pieces of tinned-iron soldered together. The canteen Will inherited from his father was covered in canvas, which when wet helped keep the water cool, but also served as the means to attach a carrying strip. The neck of the canteen was closed with a cork stopper. I described Will’s canteen as being stenciled: 7th Iowa. It would have been similar to this example, stenciled for the 1st Connecticut Volunteers, offered for sale by Gutterman Historical Weapons on this site: http://www.19thcenturyweapons.com/809/cwcanteenid.html

[media-credit name=”Aric Whelan” align=”alignright” width=”241″]Wooden Canteen[/media-credit]

Many of the surviving canteens from the Civil War, which would have seen continued used for years on the Western frontier, were of metal construction. Another common Civil War canteen type, used particularly by the Confederates, because their manufacturing capabilities were limited, was fashioned of wood. These wooden canteens were also used out West following the war. Wooden canteens are frequently shown in the movies, probably because they are more photogenic. This example is a replica produced by Aric Whelan. You can view this item at: http://atomic-iron-warrior.cgsociety.org/art/modo-photoshop-civil-war-replica-canteen-3d-958975

When Will is re-equipped from supplies provided by the Union Pacific Railroad in Julesburg, Colorado, he is issued another metal canteen. Perhaps it was Army surplus, or it may have been newly manufactured. An enjoyable aspect of writing historical fiction is the research required to identify the proper accoutrements and weapons used by the characters and then work to describe the items in a clear narrative form.

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One Response to Will Braddock’s Canteen

  1. Joyce says:

    I like the research information you share.

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