An 1861 Union infantry officer's saber carried by Reverend William
Rippetoe of Terre Haute, Indiana during the Civil War. The
weapon was an import from Germany, made by
W. (Wilhelm) Clauberg, Solingen, who
produced edged weapons from 1847-1918. The company sold swords
and knives to both Union and Confederacy forces throughout the
This particular saber is unusually ornate in design. The
guard is cast from solid brass and features a balled eagle with
a banner in its beak. The banner has the Latin motto of the
Union "E Pluribus Unum" or "From many, one".
The eagle is surrounded by decorative leaves and branches
and the whole of the image makes up most of the guard. Even the
pommel of the weapon is done in a tiered design to add more
decoration. The grip is also wrapped in twisted brass braids.
The scabbard is also ornamented in brass.
The blade features a maker's mark of "W. Clauberg
Solingen's" company with a sketch image of a knight in armor in
the center. The other side of the blade has a circular indent in
which "Proved +" is inscribed, which likely means the sword was
impact tested in one form or another prior to shipment. Unlike a
cavalry saber, the foot officer's saber did not have a curve to
its blade. The curve in cavalry models was to prevent snagging
on human bodies during combat; the result of a snag would be
injury or forceful and sudden dismounting of the user from his
horse. As infantry were not mounted, the sabers they were
equipped with did not have to be curved. In any event, a weapon
such as this would be one of last resort when combatants had
closed ranks to the point that time for reloading was not given
and hand to hand combat had ensued.
Housewife Sewing Kit
The Soldiers "Housewife" sewing kit was a
standard issue item in the Union Army at the time of the Civil
War. These were tiny versions of the tools used by tailors to
mend clothing. As tailors were not readily available, soldiers
were expected to maintain their own uniforms. The "Housewife"
sewing kit came with limited but adequate amounts of the things
needed to do just that. There is a wide range of variations but
generally the sewing kits included several compartments for a
thimble, needles, various threads and small bits of material to
patch holes in clothing.
The ability to have soldiers mend their own
clothing was essential in saving cloth resources that otherwise
would have gone to replacing whole uniforms when a patch and
some stitching would have made the damaged item still
kits were also convenient in that they were made to fold or roll
up in order to take up less space in a haversack. Most were
small enough to be carried in pockets.
This particular housewife kit is backed in
oiled black leather with a single strap to close the kit for
transport. The inside has three large pockets and one small
pocket for a thimble. It also has three leather loops for
needles. On the inner pockets, there are stacks of material bits
sewn onto each other. This was a convenient way to keep scrap
material for patches organized and in place.
Within the Union and Confederate Armies
during the Civil War, special groups of rifle marksmen were
organized into sharpshooter units.
The name "sharpshooter" may have its origin in the name
of one of the three rifles used by these special units, the
Sharps rifle. In some Union Army recruiting efforts, shooting
contests were held to allow men to compete for positions in
In many instances, units of sharpshooters were attached to
larger infantry units and used to demoralize enemy forces. In
order to have a view that was consistently good, they were often
issued special sharpshooter glasses.
These glasses were made specifically to hone the
shooter's line of sight and reduce glare from sunlight. They had
tinted lenses that contained a lightly tinted but otherwise
clear circle for sighting through. The glasses were made in a
one size fits all fashion and were no larger than a pair of
reading glasses. An added bonus of the glasses was that they
also helped to keep smoke and powder from arms fire out of the