Author Topic: Prairie Belts, Mills Belts, Fair Weather Christian Belts, Thimble Belts, etc.  (Read 20120 times)

Offline FTrooper

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 231
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
The recent topic of ammunition belts that came up on Hopalong's thread got me to thinking (always a VERY dangerous thing) about these items.  There so many variations and modifications know the exist in collections and photographs that 100 men could show up to a GAF muster and no two have the same belt...and ALL be correct!  So I thought we'd start a topic about them and post images we find of variations (both regulation and non-regulation).

First a VERY brief history.  Anson Mills is the first documented user of loops sewn onto the belt in the late 1860's when his troops of the 3rd Infantry used them to carry their Spencer Rifle ammo.  After the widespread issue and use of metallic cartridges, we see saddler made cartridge belts and leather and canvas loops added to issue belts.  Many official types are made and tested from 1868-1876 but none adopted.  In 1876 we get the first official version. This is the M1876 Prairie Belt.  This is little more than a leather belt with a canvas looped slide on outer belt sewn too it.  In 1880, Anson Mills Finally gets an Army contract for his fully woven version.  This is the first true "Mills" Belt.  With the exception of a few sub-contractors and sewn versions like "Spaulding".  These Mills belts are standard issue until 1903 when the new 9 pocket belt for the M1903 Springfield clips comes into existence (it is still several years before the M1903's are issued army wide and the looped belts are completely withdrawn).

So I am going to post the first one (please guys, if you can an image from a book, lets give it credit).

This is a blue edged infantry belt pictured in "AMERICAN MILITARY AND NAVAL BELTS, 1812-1902", by R. Stephen Dorsey.  It has been modified to carry a pistol holster.  The author speculates that is was issued to a cavalry man (it was not unusually for the color edged versions to be sent out regardless of branch as need and supply dictated).  But seeing as this is also an 1881-1882 manufacture and issued in 1883/4 it puts it right at the time that Infantry Sgt's were being issued revolvers.

Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Offline Hangtown Frye

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 184
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Thanks for posting that, Chris! What I find cool about it is that the saddler or whomever modified it used an Model 1874 bridle buckle!  THAT is pretty nifty! I don't know if that hurts your "Infantry Sgt." theory, but I don't think it would be out of the question in that case, either. Very nifty belt!

Sadly, it's hard to get a decent woven belt anymore, at least the one's I've seen.  I have a nice old Burgess with the "H" buckle (stamped, of course), and foolishly sold a nice Burgess "Cavalry" version (late, with the leather billets sewn on the ends).  They're heavy and broad.  The one's I've seen of late are much lighter, thinner and pretty much junk for anything other than holding pistol rounds (for which they're fine, though certainly not to any spec.) 

Anyone know of a decent modern manufacturer of web belts?  I'd LOVE to put together a copy of this one!  (Especially with the cast "H" buckle!)

Cheers!

Gordon

Offline G.W. Strong

  • Grand Army of the Frontier, (Bvt.) Colonel, Commander of the Department of the Missouri
  • NCOWS Member
  • Top Active Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 963
  • GAF, Department of the Missouri
    • Talbot's Fine Accessories
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 1
If someone has an original H buckle plate I could use to take a mold off of I would be glad to make copies of the buckle.
George Washington "Hopalong" Strong
Grand Army of the Frontier #774, (Bvt.) Colonel commanding the Department of the Missouri.
SASS #91251
Good Guy's Posse & Bristol Plains Pistoleros
NCOWS #3477
Sweetwater Regulators

Offline Texas Lawdog

  • NCOWS Senator "Old School" Cop
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 11634
  • " We're all Here because We're not all There".
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
I have a couple of period correct belts that David Carrico made for me. I hope that David can return to his business when his health improves.
SASS#47185  RO I   ROII       NCOWS#2244  NCOWS Life #186  BOLD#393 GAF#318 SCORRS#1 SBSS#1485  WASA#666  RATS#111  BOSS#155  Storm#241 Henry 1860#92 W3G#1000  Warthog AZSA #28  American Plainsmen Society #69  Masonic Cowboy Shootist  Hiram's Rangers#18  FOP  Lt. Col  Grand Army of The Frontier, Life Member CAF
   Col.  CAF  NRA  TSRA   BOA  Dooley Gang  BOPP  ROWSS  Scarlet Mask Vigilance Society Great Lakes Freight and Mining Company  Cow Cracker Cavalry   Berger Sharpshooters "I had no Irons in the Fire". "Are you gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie"?

Offline Hangtown Frye

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 184
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Hopalong, someone is already making them.  You should be able to get one from Doug Kidd of Borderstates Leather Works.  Do a google search, he's there on the web.

Per David Carrico, I just talked to him the other day.  His transplant seems to be going well, and we all hope and pray that he'll be able to be back to work, at least on a limited scale, in the next few months or so.  We'll keep our fingers crossed!

Cheers!

Gordon

Advertisers

  • Guest

Offline G.W. Strong

  • Grand Army of the Frontier, (Bvt.) Colonel, Commander of the Department of the Missouri
  • NCOWS Member
  • Top Active Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 963
  • GAF, Department of the Missouri
    • Talbot's Fine Accessories
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 1
I looked him up and he seems to be all saddle and horse tack. He may make those H buckles but I did nto see any.
George Washington "Hopalong" Strong
Grand Army of the Frontier #774, (Bvt.) Colonel commanding the Department of the Missouri.
SASS #91251
Good Guy's Posse & Bristol Plains Pistoleros
NCOWS #3477
Sweetwater Regulators

Offline G.W. Strong

  • Grand Army of the Frontier, (Bvt.) Colonel, Commander of the Department of the Missouri
  • NCOWS Member
  • Top Active Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 963
  • GAF, Department of the Missouri
    • Talbot's Fine Accessories
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 1
Here are a couple of images form the 1885 Ordinance memoranda.

George Washington "Hopalong" Strong
Grand Army of the Frontier #774, (Bvt.) Colonel commanding the Department of the Missouri.
SASS #91251
Good Guy's Posse & Bristol Plains Pistoleros
NCOWS #3477
Sweetwater Regulators

Offline G.W. Strong

  • Grand Army of the Frontier, (Bvt.) Colonel, Commander of the Department of the Missouri
  • NCOWS Member
  • Top Active Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 963
  • GAF, Department of the Missouri
    • Talbot's Fine Accessories
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 1
Here are some pics of early Mills belts from the inside.
George Washington "Hopalong" Strong
Grand Army of the Frontier #774, (Bvt.) Colonel commanding the Department of the Missouri.
SASS #91251
Good Guy's Posse & Bristol Plains Pistoleros
NCOWS #3477
Sweetwater Regulators

Offline G.W. Strong

  • Grand Army of the Frontier, (Bvt.) Colonel, Commander of the Department of the Missouri
  • NCOWS Member
  • Top Active Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 963
  • GAF, Department of the Missouri
    • Talbot's Fine Accessories
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 1
How about this one?

George Washington "Hopalong" Strong
Grand Army of the Frontier #774, (Bvt.) Colonel commanding the Department of the Missouri.
SASS #91251
Good Guy's Posse & Bristol Plains Pistoleros
NCOWS #3477
Sweetwater Regulators

Offline FTrooper

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 231
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Hop,

Here is my repro of the Metcalf belt!

Also, Hanover brass makes several of the Mills Belt buckles, including a decent 1st Pattern M1880.  It doesn't have the sliding friction bars on back, but otherwise I am very pleased with it.

Frye-daddy.  There are a couple companies out there that say the do good Mills belts, but their costs are a bit much and I don;t know how they are weaving the belt (since it has to have the two bulges top and bottom).  I have not broken down and ordered one personally.

The blank belts from S&S firearms are pretty ok.  I know someone who ordered the complete one (with "C" hook and keepers"), took out the "C" hook, but left the keeper slides, added a Hanover buckle (and back grommets) and it really turned out nice.  The flat keepers, though not 100% correct for the 1st pattern M1880 Mills belts took up for the fact that the "H" Buckle didn't have the friction bars.

Chris Fischer
F-Troop
Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Advertisers

  • Guest

Offline FTrooper

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 231
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Hanover Brass
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2012, 06:35:48 PM »
http://hanoverbrass.com/more.htm

Most of their IWP stuff is on this page.  They also have the M1874 Infantry Buckle with the loops.  Their M1872 is much better than those commonly encountered through most vendors with a weird looking "S".

Chris Fischer
F-Troop
Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Offline FTrooper

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 231
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
[quote author=Hangtown Frye link=topic=41858.msg526940#msg526940 date=Thanks for posting that, Chris! What I find cool about it is that the saddler or whomever modified it used an Model 1874 bridle   THAT is pretty nifty! I don't know if that hurts your "Infantry Sgt." theory, but I don't think it would be out of the question in that case, either. Very nifty belt!

Sadly, it's hard to get a decent woven belt anymore,
[/quote]

Yes, most of the modified belts (and pre-1876 cartridge belts) I have handled in person or seen in books, pictures, catalogs, websites, auctions, etc.  More often than not use buckles and parts of horse tack! Of course this is something that could be found at just about any military post (yes, even infantry had horses.  For officer's, wagons, couriers, and for mounted patrols.  For about two years in the late 1870's Co. E, 24th Infantry was fully mounted and armed with revolvers, sabers, and carbines on the Texas/Mexico border...elements of the 10th Infantry about the same time had a number of horses and Spencer Carbines signed to Regimental HQ and performed many mounted patrols against West Texas Indians).

As for good IWP stuff.  Yeah, its kind of sad Hangtown Gordo.  As you and I have discussed many times before, back in the late 1980's and early 1990's was a going time to do Indian Wars.  There was F. Burgess (and Hank Kluin DBA F. Burgess later), Bill Laybourne of Ordnance Park (all three are no deceased I believe), and Mike Montgomery DBA O'dea and Company who had a bad divorce and lost interest and sold off all his patterns and research.  There was even a company that made a bunch of M1872 Cavalry Officer's sabers to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the Little Big Horn.  Not a bad repro and they do show up from time to time, but every saber was etched on the blade " Lt. Col. George A. Custer 7th US Cavalry" on one side and " 110th year Little Bighorn Battle 1876-1986" on the other...but I digress.

Yeah, GREAT quality IWP stuff is pretty hard to find compared to what WAS out there.  :(

Chris Fischer
F-Troop
Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Offline Hangtown Frye

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 184
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Chris;

Thanks for the heads-up on Hanover Brass.  They look pretty decent.  I like my late-model "H" buckle that came with the Burgess belt, but I'd love to "back-date" it with the earlier version from Hanover.  Maybe I'll get around to it soon.

What I REALLY need to do is construct a proper Mills belt for my Remington-Lee, complete with magazine pouches.  I've seen a photo of one (and didn't copy it to my hard drive!  DUMB!) and an original ad for them, but that's about it.  Anybody got the specs on either the Army or the Navy Remington-Lee woven belts? (NOT the M1895 Winchester-Lee belts, obviously.  Different kettle of fish!  ;) )

I'm glad that I got most of my IWP stuff when I did, back in the late-80's/early-90's then.  I wish I'd kept all of it though!

Cheers!

Gordon

Offline FTrooper

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 231
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Yeah, I got the poop on those Senor Frye.  From what I can recall the Navy one were those weird double wides with four mag pockets on the lower right.  Weird stuff.  I once say a picture of Sailors wearing them.

We may be up your way this summer...Julie really wants to visit her mom again and I wouldn't mind.  Heck that little woman may even steal you big horse and disappear off with it into the hills again!

Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Here is a Navy style without the magazine loops.  Its basically two regular Mills Belts wired together...and easy make in alot of ways!
Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Offline FTrooper

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 231
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Also, here is a GREAT online reference and pictures for all things Indian Wars and Span-Am.  I don;t know how long they will have it online, so look while you can.

http://www.cowanauctions.com/auctions/catalog.aspx?SaleId=169&mcat=1005&cat=2036&Page=1

Chris Fischer
F-Troop
Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Offline Hangtown Frye

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 184
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Thanks Chris, there's some pretty cool stuff in there!  Some of it went for a pretty cheap price too, considering.  Some of it, well, makes me wonder! Anyway...

That double-wide belt is interesting.  How they decided it was for a Remington-Lee is a great wonderment to me though, since there isn't any way to hold the extra magazines that were issued to it, and it's impossible to load the magazines while in the rifle.  Thus as is, you have a nice, fast single shot after you burn up the 5 rounds in the first magazine.  Strange stuff there...!

Also, the flapped Krag belt that is shown in the link is pretty cool too!  The Rem-Lee belt I saw was much like it, with four leather flapped pouches and 30 loops in the back, for a standard load of 50 rounds.  Still... that double-wide is intriguing!

And btw, you know you guys are always welcome!  We'll have the barn ready for you!   ;D  And no, Wife doesn't get to run off with my Woody... :o  ;D

Cheers!

Gordon

Offline FTrooper

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 231
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
As per Julie thieving your horse, that is still one of my fondest memories.  Small woman, large horse (it will always be said Gordon has a large Woody), thinking she is just going to ride around the pasture...all of a sudden she takes off up the hill and into the woods and disappears for awhile!!!  For both our sakes I was really hoping she was coming back!  ;)

On to the belt.  The double wide shows up in pictures in the 1880's and 1890's.  Always worn by the Navy.  The belt you are thinking of had a late 1880's patent date (too late for army), is more often seen in 6mm (though .45-70 ones do exist) and is believed to have been the Marine issue.  There is also a version of the double wide shown in Dorsey's book as well as a Bannerman's catalog that has the lower right portion fixed to carry four Rem-Lee magazines.

Chris Fischer
F-Troop
Chris Fischer
F-Troop

Offline Hangtown Frye

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 184
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Chris;

Yeah, just as well that she came back with my horse.  He eats a LOT!   ;)

Per the belts: Do you know then what the Army was doing insofar as the field tests of the 1880's (including the Geronimo Campaign!) of the Model 1882 Remington-Lee's go?  I had just made an assumption that proper belts were issued for the magazines (I know, silly me, thinking that the Army would actually issue all of the proper gear for a field test!  Silly man...)  After all, the standard Mills belts certainly would work, you just couldn't carry spare magazines for it other than in your pockets.  (This might explain why, although the Remington-Lee got the highest marks in the trials, it still wasn't considered quite enough of an improvement for the Army to adopt it.) 

So I guess I'll probably be dead on the money if I just cobble together a half-vast pocket system to mount on my Mills Belt and go from there (Dyer pouches anyone?)   ;D

Cheers!

Gordon


Offline G.W. Strong

  • Grand Army of the Frontier, (Bvt.) Colonel, Commander of the Department of the Missouri
  • NCOWS Member
  • Top Active Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 963
  • GAF, Department of the Missouri
    • Talbot's Fine Accessories
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 1
Per the belts: Do you know then what the Army was doing insofar as the field tests of the 1880's (including the Geronimo Campaign!)

Like Rittermeister Frye here I also am curious about the experimental belts of the 1880s in general. I love an oddball item!
George Washington "Hopalong" Strong
Grand Army of the Frontier #774, (Bvt.) Colonel commanding the Department of the Missouri.
SASS #91251
Good Guy's Posse & Bristol Plains Pistoleros
NCOWS #3477
Sweetwater Regulators

Offline FTrooper

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 231
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
I looked into the Army's tests of the RL quite a bit as you know (something about a .45-70 box magazine bolt action still makes me giggle)...They seem to have been tested in 1884, maybe into 1885.  I know Fort Concho, Texas got some.  As of yet I can find no concrete references to their use in the field (only the 4th Cav's Hotchkiss Carbines and a picture of some officer's with the later Hotchkiss Rifles).  I have found even less on the cartridge carriers the Army may have used.  All the examples of period belts seem to have late 1880's patten dates and information.  All after the Army tests.  I do not know if they Army really considered the idea of a detachable magazine, or just treated it like a fixed mag loaded one at a time from a standard prairie belt.  Seeing as all the competitors were tube fed, and this is the same Army that brought us a desire to use the M1903 as a single shot...I tend to lean towards the "fixed" magazine approach to this arm.

Navy and Marines however have a very different attitude.

On a side note, is I could find a pair of "hooks" that would work.  There is a sick part of me that wants to make the Navy belt I posted above when I realize that its just two standard Mills Prairie Belt sewn together with shoulder straps added!  Funny!

Chris Fischer
F-Troop
Chris Fischer
F-Troop

 

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk

© 1995 - 2020 CAScity.com