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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Cas City Historical Society (Moderators: St. George, Silver Creek Slim)  |  Topic: Web Cartridge Belts? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Web Cartridge Belts?  (Read 9459 times)
J.R. Logan
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« on: January 10, 2008, 10:24:10 pm »


Howdy all, I was looking for a Web combo-cartridge belt with shotgun and pistol loops.  What I would like to know is did a belt like this exist in the old west and if so how common would it have been.  I have also heard this type of belt referred to as a Ranger belt but have not found any info that supports any Ranger force using a combo web cartridge belt.

Any help and info would be great.  Thanks for all your help.


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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2008, 11:09:35 pm »

The web belts were called 'Fair Weather Christian' belts, 'Prairie Belts' and later - simply 'Mills Belts'.

They were developed by the Army for the climate and worked well because the web helped to keep the copper cases from corroding and forming a coating of verdigris as they did when they'd react to leather.

Later use of brass helped this problem, but by that time, the Mills Belt was in general issue.

They were not developed for shotgun shell use by the Army - but were developed for hunters very late in the era and featured only shotgun shell loops.

Scouts Out!


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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2008, 10:05:57 am »

In PACKING IRON ranger belts are shown at page 174.  There is a very good photo of Arizona Rangers wearing very wide leather belts with loops for both pistol cartridges and for bottlenecked ammo for an 1895 Winchester.  There are several other combination belt, and shotgun only Mills pattern belts, but I havn't noticed any combo belts for pistol & shotgun.

Perhaps just such a belt can be found somewhere?  Anything deemed convenient could have been made.  Most "cowboys" would have carried a single revolver, and a saddle rifle when in need, but carrying two long guns doesn't seem practical.  Shotguns were likely only carried when looking for trouble, or game.
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2008, 10:19:22 am »

"Fair weather Christian belts" were not an oficial military issue, but were a field modification of the excisting belt, they were constructed on a leather belt and either leather or canvas was used for the loops. These were used in the years between the civil war and the first issue cartridge belt in 1876.

The 1876 pattern belt was built from canvas, but it was constructed in the same way as a leather belt, by sewing loops to the body.

Circa 1880 Anson Mills designed a machine that wove a belt with loops.
Variations of this belt were in use for many years, but as far as I'm aware none were made in a combination of calibers.

Combination cartridge belts appear to be a late Frontier item, they usually have a single row of rifle amunition and two rows of pistol, I've not seen any for shotgun rounds.
I too have heard the term "Ranger belt", I think this may be for there use with the Arizona Rangers in the early 1900s.

Boot.




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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2008, 11:27:11 am »

On a recent review of PACKING IRON, I have the impression that "thimble belt" and "fair weather Christian belt" are interchangeable terms for the early local field expedient looped cartridge belts used by the military.  I'm not sure of the appropriate term for civilian cartridge belts in the early days.
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2008, 03:39:31 pm »

I think you're right, also "Prairie belt" and "Scouting belt" seem interchangable too.

The terms "Thimble belt" "Scouting belt"and "Prairie belt" are self explanatory and these terms may well have also been used for early civilian belts.

I'm not entirely sure of the origins of the the term "Fair weather Christian" presumably it has something to do with the cartridges being exposed to the elements as apposed to a box.

Boot.
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2008, 04:54:52 pm »

I think you're right, also "Prairie belt" and "Scouting belt" seem interchangable too.

The terms "Thimble belt" "Scouting belt"and "Prairie belt" are self explanatory and these terms may well have also been used for early civilian belts.

I'm not entirely sure of the origins of the the term "Fair weather Christian" presumably it has something to do with the cartridges being exposed to the elements as apposed to a box.

Boot.

The "Thimble Belt' has Spring Steele clips revited to the belt into which the cartidges were snapped into place & then be snapped straight out, instead of having to Drawn up & out as w/ a normal "Looped" cartridge belt.
It's "Fairweather-Christian", as in the name of two field officers from the early 1870's who were known to wear them after having post Saddlers make one for them to replace the cartridge boxs for use in the field.
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2008, 04:05:15 am »

Early cartridge loops were also known as "Thimbles" hence the term "Thimble belt".

Very interesting about the officers names, I always wondered where it came from.

Packin' Iron and American military belts by Stephen Dorsey both refer to them as ""Fair Weather Christian"
U.S. Army in the West by Doug McCristian refers to them as "Thimble" or "Prairie"
Arming and equiping the U.S. cav' etc. by Dusan Farrington refers to them as "Scouting belts"

None of the afore mentioned books make any reference to officers Fairweather or Christian.
I'm not doubting your claim, but I would be very interested to see a reference as it's something I've always wondered about.

Boot.
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2008, 04:57:49 pm »

Here's a link I discovered whilst doing a Google search;
http://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php?topic=8518.0;wap2

I'm inclined to agree with U.S. Scout untill further evidence comes forward.

Boot.
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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2008, 01:09:55 am »

I just read the link that Boots sent;  I was going to observe that a Christian puts his trust in the Lord.  A "fair weather" Christian would put his trust in the Lord;

..until the going got tough! 

THEN he would need plenty of ammo!
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2008, 03:20:19 am »

Cor Blimey, there aint half a lot of Englishmen on 'ere !

That sounds the most feasable so far, unless Colonel Flashman can come up with some evidence to back up his officers theory.

Boot.

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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2008, 08:04:43 am »

Howdy, JR!

Long time, no see.

I have one of the belts you're referring to.  I'd offer it to you to try, but you'd probably have to loop it around you twice to get it to fit!

Mine has 6 or 8, 12 ga. loops and 30+, 45 cal. loops.  It works best with 45-70 (or similar) rifle rounds, but works well enough with my 45 Colt rounds, too.  (I often have all 3 calibers in the 2 sized loops.)  It is a web belt with leather ends - "billets" I think is the term.  It is very similar to some I've seen pictured as "saddler made" items.  Don't take this as Gospel, but I THINK that the ones that were either issued or saddler-made (the leather FWC type  belt or the web type like mine) were made with 20 ga. loops and used where the units employed the special modified 1873 Trapdoor 20 ga shotgun.  If I remember correctly, these T'doors were made by boring out the shot-out barrels (boring out what little rifling was left) or perhaps incorrectly sized factory barrels.  These rifles/shotguns were issued as hunting arms for troops "in the field."

Next time we're at a shoot you can see it (if still interested) if I'm "in uniform" since this is my main Military style outfit belt.

Give me a call sometime!  Or IM me and tell me when's the best time to call - I don't want to disturb the triplets!  Wink

Jeff
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2008, 04:54:52 pm »

Cor Blimey, there aint half a lot of Englishmen on 'ere !

That sounds the most feasable so far, unless Colonel Flashman can come up with some evidence to back up his officers theory.

Boot.



You know, I could really care less what You believe or dis-believe, especially w/ your Snotty 'tude. Roll Eyes
@ present I'm unable to get to my reference books because they are still packed away from the move into our new home. Embarrassed
But, one of my sources is writer/editor Phil S. from "Guns & Ammo" magazine, who's references collection vastly exceeds mine, the other that I can lay hands on is my copy of Dorsey's book on "American Military Belts & Related Equipments" where Fairweather-Christain" is one word, just as I wrote it.  Tongue
The Officer references came from other published sources from 1st hand accounts that were published prior to & @ the turn of the 20th C. & well into the 1980's, as well as the hundreds of Reference Library's & Museum's I had to don little white cotton gloves in order to even handle the original source material & yes, my notes are w/ my reference books. Shocked
You might wish to do some of Your Own hands-On research instead of coming here & aksing questions of those here that have & than coping a Snotty 'Tude when You get answers you don't like or agree w/. Kiss
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« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2008, 05:18:58 pm »

I'm sorry you've taken it that way, there was no offense intended.

You made a statement claiming that both Fairweather and Christian were army officers as I'd not heard of either of these gentlemen or this theory I asked for some evidence to support it.

When you do regain your information, I'd be interested to see any relevant refrences.

In American military belts and related equipments by Dorsey it's actually spelt with three words.

"Fair Weather Christian Belt"

Other than in the title he makes no other reference to the name.

Boot.
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« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2008, 07:33:53 pm »

I'm sorry you've taken it that way, there was no offense intended.
You made a statement claiming that both Fairweather and Christian were army officers as I'd not heard of either of these gentlemen or this theory I asked for some evidence to support it.
When you do regain your information, I'd be interested to see any relevant refrences.
In American military belts and related equipments by Dorsey it's actually spelt with three words.
"Fair Weather Christian Belt"
Other than in the title he makes no other reference to the name.
Boot.

Excuse me if I'm somewhat skeptical of the seperate aspects your response, so I'll enumerate them.

You asked a question & the Majority of the responses were Best Guesses & you had no problem accepting them, Hmmmmmmm, funny that.
Yet when I give my response Based on 30+ years of hard won research w/ a lot of it in Research Library's & Museums reading Original 1st Hand Source Material, wearing White Cotton Gloves, your reponse to me comes across to me as if I've just pulled my statement out of my arse.

I recall coming across more than one source that made statements to the effect that two different Field Grade Army Officers by the names Fairweather & Christian had the Post Saddlers make the 1st of this type of belt, were given credit for the belt.
You basically call me a Liar & I'm to Prove it.
So based on your afore mentioned intial response, you'd just call me Liar once again no matter what research I presented to you, so No Joy, boy-o. Go make your own Appointments in some Research Library's & Museums that will let you, bury yourself in some 1st Hand Source Material & actually get your hands dirty, so to speak looking it up (white cotton gloves, remember).

Go back & re-read my statement, as I stated previously, MY COPY has it Spelled out as "Fairweather-Christian" & the other Copies I've seen of the Dorsey book has it spelled the same way. So untill I see it in Spelled your way in several other copies of the Dorsey book, I'll just stick w/ mine & the others that were on the shelf when & where I purchased mine back when it was 1st published.

Where did I state that Dorsey made any other statement other then that My Copy of Dorsey's book supports my statement about the spelling of "Fairweather-Christian". I didn't now did I, so don't go putting words into my mouth.

Colonel Flashman
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2008, 08:17:42 pm »

I have read where an officer under Anson Mills was the one who actually filed the patent for the Mills belt as Mills himself was not interested. Interestingly it made him (Mills) a very wealthy man. Mills conjured up the idea after noticing the loud clanging loise made by metallic cartridges rolling around in metal lined Civil War pouches after the war. I am sure that soldiers out West improvised (as they always do) to make some some sort of cartridge holders. As a side note, the vast majority of belts I've seen in person & in books/museums for large Sharps style cartridges were totally leather. One would think that verdigris would have been quite common.  Huh
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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2008, 08:24:15 pm »

If the belts were of good oil tanned instead of one of the acid tanned types of leather, the verdigris would have not been much of a problem if at all.  The most common oil tan of the period being brain tanning,

Of course a good buffalo hunter with any luck would not carry the rounds around in the belt long enough to cause problems.
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« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2008, 08:40:37 pm »

The "Fairweather-Christian" belt was a Leather belt w/ Canvas Loops stitched to it that was unofficially adopted by the Army to replace Cartridge Boxes & as "D" states Acid Tanning is the process is the cause of verdigris on the cartridge cases stored on leather belts.

I seem to recall something along those lines FCK, I've the Mills Belt Bio somewhere,  it's well worth the read & has lots of great Pix.

And one of those sources for the "Fairweather-Christian" name, was an Auto-Biography by a Saddler Sgt. from the era. I just am unable to recall his name or the name of the book @ present & I'm really ticked off @ myself off that I can't.
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2008, 05:03:15 am »

Of all the "Fair Weather Christian belts" I've seen none have canvas loops, certainly the one in Dorseys book doesn't as I've seen it in Tucson.

I've not called anyone a liar, but I do question posts where no source is given.
I've not ruled out your theory, but this is the first time I've heard it, so at the very least I'm sceptical.

Boot.
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2008, 03:25:53 pm »

I've spoken with R.Stephen Dorsey who is a well known author of U.S. Military belts and Equipments and whom I do regard as an authority on the subject.

Mr Dorsey stated that the term "Fair Weather Christian belt" was in use with civilians before the Military, but did not know how it derived.

Also that the theory of it being named after two Army officers is not correct.



Boot.



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« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2008, 05:26:49 pm »

Boot, I'll have to agree with you as well. All I've seen were all leather. Personally, I am of the belief that the name "Fair Weather Christian" is a parody of the term "fair weather friend", hence the obvious belt with cartridge loops infers one may well be a Christian but trusted other "measures" as well when faced with adversity.  Wink  Just my two cents. Of course, my opinion is worth just what you were charged.  Wink
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« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2008, 03:52:39 am »

Which is very similar to what Sir Charles said.

Because these were the first cartridge belts they had no way of knowing about the verdigree problems caused by the leather to the cartridges.
If any were constructed usuing canvas loops it was most likely for convienience rather than anything else, but like you I've not seen any.

Boot.

 
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« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2008, 06:57:06 pm »

Alas poor Boot.....You're in hot water on my side of the pond too!
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« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2008, 08:09:20 pm »

Well isn't that the reason You came here asking questions from those of us that have had Years more Research experience than you? The British had been experiencing problems w/ Verdigris for years, as they were the first to use Cartridge Loops on leather belts. So your statement makes no sense what so ever.

Plus, I only stated that I used Dorsey as a reference for the Spelling "Fairweather-Christian", as It's how it's spelled in My copy of his book, not his single reference from a single source of an all leather constructed version & that the Canvass & Leather version of what I researched as the "Fairweather-Christian" belt is solely an invention of those named & constructed by Post Saddler Sgt.'s. Sorry but Dorsey is Just one source, a good one, but just because He's his version of the story, doesn't mean what I've found didn't happen.

So just because you've not Heard of or Seen one in Your limited research experience, doesn't mean that it's not out there in Museums & in numerous different Private Collections. And as I stated previously & You ignored, Do some actual White Cotton Gloved, Hands On research in some actual Research Libraries & Museums instead of taking the Lazy mans approach by attempting to pick apart the research of those that actually have. The Smithsonian & the U.S. Cavalry Museum should be your 1st places to start your research; it was mine, as well as others. And yes, by stating that “You do not believe me & Prove it”, you’ve called me a liar.

And I will reiterate one of my Primary Sources outside of the Research Library's & Museums is Writer/Editor for "GUNDS & AMMO" Magazine, Phil S. & if you don't know who he is, you done even less research on the U.S. Army of the Victorian Era than I believe you have. As I stated previously he has a rather extensive Research Library in his home, has done research @ the Smithsonian, @ the Majority of the U.S. Army Military Museums throughout the U.S.

He also a extremely large collection of Original U.S. Military items from the Victorian Era & happens to Own, as I recall, two of the belts as I've described them, w/ stitched on Small Canvass Loops to a Sabre Belt & also has them listed as "Fairweather-Christian" cartridge belt after what he's found @ the Museums he's done research in. I've actually done more than have just spoken w/ him on the Phone, as I've actually been to his home & viewed both his personal Research Library & Victorian Era U.S. Military collection.

And as I stated previously, even if I were to list everything my research notes have in them, based on 1st hand accounts & those Published books of 1st hand accounts, I believe you’d still have the ‘Tude of “I don’t believe you & prove it”, no matter what I presented to you.

So untill I’ve seen some contrition from you, I’ll not be going out of my way to find it. First off, because of you lousy ‘tude towards the statements I made here based on 30 + years of research. Second off, it’s rather inconvenient because of how everything was packed into storage, it’s 24’ x 24’ in measurement. I’d have to Completely un-pack the storage unit to find everything needed to get you to contract your “I don’t believe you & prove it” statements. Which I still believe would Not be enough to satisfy you, no matter how much research & exacting sources I presented to you. So this will be the last time I'll be communicating w/ you untill you do the afore mentioned.

 Good Day to you.
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« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2008, 10:13:47 pm »


Boots & friends,

The below references contain both civilian and military references. Perhaps they can add to the scholarly nature this thread has taken.

The first reference I have to Mills belts being sold in my Victorian era gun & related items catalog collection is on page 35 of the 1883 Hodgkins & Haigh Illustrated Catalogue and Price List: Guns, Rifles and Sporting Goods, New York. However, there is information below that supports Mills we belts being commercially available starting in 1881.

Regarding metal tubes on a cartridge belt to hold cartridges: This is a patented feature by the firm Pooler & Jones and it was called the ‘Boss Cartridge Holder’. The earliest reference in my catalog collection is on page 11 of the 1879 Pribyl Bros, Importer and Jobber of Breech-Loading Guns: Rifles, Revolvers, Shooting Implements, Sporting Goods, Gun Powders, Shot, Traps catalog. These were sold in both belt and vest configurations and listed only for shotgun in the catalog description.

Pg 35, The U.S. Army in the West, 1870-1880 by Douglas C. McChristian: “Even though the leather cartridge box was often used on campaign, soldiers were quick to adopt the looped belts worn by civilian frontiersmen armed with metallic cartridge weapons. Known variously as thimble, fringed, prairie, or scouting belts, these were found among troops on the frontier as early as 1867. The men fabricated them by sewing forty to fifty leather or canvas loops on an issue belt or other piece of ‘appropriated’ leather.”

Pg 216, The U.S. Army in the West, 1870-1880 by Douglas C. McChristian: Thimble or Prairie Cartridge Belts – “Field Fabricated cartridge belts took a variety of forms and were used by both soldiers and civilians on the frontier. Certain common features have been noted among examples with known or probable military provenance. The use of a cast-off army belt plate, either 1851 eagle plate or the 1839-pattern U.S. oval, was a distinctive feature of belts of military origin, although period photographs show many civilians wearing them as well.”

Pg 227, American Military and Naval Belts 1812-1902 by Stephen Dorsey: “As Anson Mills noted in his autobiography, a version of the looped cartridge belt or ‘scouting belt’ had been unsuccessfully ‘submitted to every equipment board organized between 1866 and 1879.’ The apparent profusion and popularity of these unofficial ‘scouting’ or ‘fair weather Christian belts’ must have been somewhat of an embarrassment to the Ordnance Department and, finally, particularly after a cool reception of the Hazen Loops in the field, the inevitable was accepted.”

Pg 373, American Military and Naval Belts 1812-1902 by Stephen Dorsey: “As early as the beginning of Mill’s first military contract [for Mills belts and his patented weaving process that was formalized on 15 March 1881, not related to the M1876 web/leather combination type per pg 376-377], he was engaged in providing the commercial market with looped cartridge belts. Is decision to enter into a five-year contract with the Winchester Repeating Firearms Co to market his belts was a good one and gave his belts access to a broad market in the U.S. and overseas.”

J.R. Logan – I am unable to find any references to the kind of belt you described in your post that kicked-off this thread. If I do find anything I’ll let you know.

YMH&OS,

MJB
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