|Description and Photograph||
The most common accoutrement waist belt in the Confederate army was a standard belt that utilized a single tongue. There were many more of this style used by the Confederate soldier, but the survival rate is lower than CS marked specimens for several reasons. When the army surrendered, the privates turned over their arms and accoutrements to the victors. Many of those victors wanted to take a War souvenir home. They certainly would have preferred carrying a belt with a CS buckle home rather than a plain unmarked belt. Many CS marked belts were therefore saved in this manner. Another reason for the low survival rate of the plain utilitarian belt was simply that they were utilitarian. The South was destitute after the War and everything was in short supply. Returning Rebels not only needed draft animals to make a crop, they also needed harness. Consequently most of these simple belts were adapted for farm use and were quickly worn out.
The waist belt shown here is the rarest and most desirable of the roller buckle style. It is made of painted canvas, not that it would have held up well, but it served the purpose in desperate times. The South was short of everything but patriotism; and necessity bred innovation. Companies such as William Brand & Co. and N. Crown of Columbus, Georgia made belts and slings and even whole cartridge and cap boxes from painted cloth. Such are the exigencies of war.
The Richmond Armory produced a number of painted cloth belts with sewn on leather rangers, and even some unpainted canvas belts, thus using a minimal amount of leather; leather that was sorely needed for shoes. We do not know where the Richmond Arsenal acquird the painted canvas, whether it was imported from Columbus or manufactured at the James River Mill.
As can be imagined, these belts would not have lasted long under harsh campaign conditions, so they had to frequently be replaced, even so very, very few survive. In over thirty years of collecting and dealing, this is only the second belt of this type I have been able to acquire, and this is the best of the two.
This particular belt is in nearly new condition because the first collector to own it acquired it during the War. John DeMeritt carefully preserved it for the modern collector. DeMeritt's collecting story is well told in The North South Trader's Magazine, Volume 33; Number 6 by Nancy Dearing Rossbacher and graces that issue's front cover. A copy of the magazine accompanies the article. The other two belts can be acquired should some preservation minded collector wish to reunite the three of them.