April 1998

"Regulations": Article XIII:

Para. 91: "Each subaltern officer will be charged with a squad for the supervision of its order and cleanliness .... "

Para. 93: "The utmost attention will be paid by commanders of companies to the cleanliness of their men, as to their persons, clothing, arms, accoutrements, and equipments, and also as to their quarters or tents."

Para. 96: "... the boots well cleaned."

Para. 99: "Ordinarily the cleaning will be on Saturdays.  The chiefs of squads will cause ... arms [to be] cleaned; accoutrements whitened [blackened] and polished...."

Para. 100: "Where conveniences for bathing are to be had, the men should bathe once a week.  The feet to be washed at least twice a week.  The hair kept short, and beard neatly trimmed."

Para. 101: "Non-commissioned officers, in command of squads, will be held more immediately responsible that their men observe what is prescribed above; that they wash their hands and faces daily; that they brush or comb their heads; that those who are to go on duty put their arms, accoutrements, dress, &c., in the best order, and that such as have permission to pass the chain of sentinels, are in the dress that may be ordered." [There is nothing wrong with a corporal or sergeant calling his own men out for an inspection now and then, especially before guard mount.]

Para. 102: "Commanders of companies and squads will see that the arms and accoutrements in possession of the men are always kept in good order, and that proper care be taken in cleaning them." ["Rules for the Management and Cleaning of the Rifle Musket, Model 1863" (hereafter referred to as "Rules") states that "In the inspection of arms, officers should attend to the qualities essential to service, rather than to a bright polish on the exterior of the arms." (i.e., Weapons should be serviceable, safe, and clean first - a brightly polished weapon is nice but not essential If you cannot keep your weapon looking like it was chrome-plated, with period equipment that you can carry in the field, it is as incorrect an impression, as a rusty, unserviceable weapon.]

Para. 103: "When belts are given to a soldier, the captain will see that they are properly fitted to the body; and it is forbidden to cut any belt without his sanction." [All accoutrements should be of the proper length.]

Para. 104: "Cartridge-boxes and bayonet scabbards will be polished with blacking; varnish is injurious to the leather, and will not be used."

Para. 105: "All arms in the hands of the troops ... will be kept in the state in which they are issued ... Bright barrels will be kept clean and free from rust without polishing them; care should be taken in rubbing not to bruise or bend the barrel. After firing, wash out the bore; wipe it dry, and then pass a bit of cloth, slightly greased, to the bottom.... The barrel, when not in use, will be closed with a stopper. For exercise, each soldier should keep himself provided with a piece of sole-leather to fit the cup or countersink of the hammer" [A leather nipple protector - not a cut-off minnie ball attached to the musket with a chain.]

Para. 108: "Ammunition will be frequently exposed to the dry air, or sunned." [A good off-duty scenario]

Para. 115: "Soldiers will wear the prescribed uniform in camp or garrison, and will not be permitted to keep in their possession any other clothing.  When on fatigue parties, they will wear the proper fatigue dress."

Para. 122: "On marches and in the field, the only mess furniture of the soldier will be one tin plate, one tin cup, one knife, fork and spoon, to each man, to be carried by himself on the march." [Note that regulations call for tin, not enamel which can chip (and the exposed metal rust) with rough field use.]

Para. 123: "Tradesmen may be relieved from ordinary military duty, to make, to alter, or to mend soldier's clothing, &c...."  [Clothing should always be in good order.  Neat mends to, and patching of, clothing in order to keep it serviceable, may be evident - sloppy patching with off-color material or contrasting thread may not.]

Para. 128: "Four women will be allowed to each company as washer women, and will receive one ration per day each."  [All clothing will be as clean as possible in the field.]

From all this, it is apparent that "all that stuff" is an essential part of your kit. Keeping all the above regulations in mind, go through this list. All of the items are essential for life in the field.

Personal hygiene:

1) Comb;

2) Soap and a Towel (you don't need a terry beach towel the size of a tent, just enough to dry your face and hands);

3) Razor (for shaving or trimming hair and beard);

4) a Shaving Brush is not essential, but was a basic element of a man's toilet at the time. ordinary soap can be used for shaving soap; 5) Toothbrush (Tooth Powder, if you feel it is necessary, can be easily obtained and put in a period container).

Weapons maintenance:

1) Wiping and Cleaning Rags;

2) Tompion (the "stopper" mentioned above).

3) A little Bottle of oil would not be out of place. ("Rules" states that oil is to be used to prevent rust.);

4) "Rules" also states that "fine flour of emery cloth" should be used to clean the exterior of the barrel.

5) Musket Tool ("Rules" states that "Each soldier should have a screw-driver and a wiper ((a worm)), and each non-commissioned officer a wire tumbler-punch and a spring vice. No other implements should be used in taking arms apart or in setting them up.")

6) Vent Pick, and, at the very least, each NCO should have a Ball-Puller as part of his kit.

7) "Rules" also says to "Oil the stock with sperm or linseed oil.", but this can wait until you get home.

Clothing maintenance:

1) Clothing Brush (wool was brushed before dry cleaning was invented. Dip the tips of the brush in water and it does wonders cleaning dust and light dirt from your uniform.);

2) Housewife Kit (it should include needles, thread, shirt buttons, extra brass uniform buttons, a piece of leather or a thimble for pushing the needle, and possibly scissors (a pocket knife will serve));

3) Metal Polish for brass.

Written by 1st Sgt. S. Hanson,

2nd US Inf. 

Sykes' Regulars

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