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  • Harris Farmhouse, Spotsylvania
  • Fighting at Harris Farm, Spotsylvania

Civil War New York "SNY" Belt Plate, dug Spotsylvania (ON HOLD,BH)

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Product Description

This is another great piece being offered, it is an excavated Civil War New York Belt plate. The buckle depicts "SNY", intended for troops of the State of New York. Buckle is oval following the Federal Regulation of 1839 and was designed to secure a belt fitted over a soldier's jacket, used to carry his cartridge and cap box, along with any other items carried on a belt. The reverse has the full lead with two studs and the hook.

The soldier carved his initials into the lead which appears to be “H I C” or “H I G”. This plate was recovered years ago at the Harris Farm on the Spotsylvania, Virginia Battlefield.

The Harris Farm was the scene of the final action of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House on May 19, 1864 (see picture of map). The Union army’s defeat near the Mule Shoe Salient on May 18 convinced Lt. Gen. Ulysses Grant that further attacks against Confederate entrenchments at Spotsylvania were futile. Instead, he needed to lure Gen. Robert E. Lee into the open and sent Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock’s corps to threaten Confederate communications with Richmond. When Lee, perforce, evacuated his trenches, Grant would pounce.

Watching Grant withdraw troops in preparation for this movement, Lee became puzzled. Was Grant massing for another attack? Or was he planning to leave Spotsylvania altogether? Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell’s corps was sent on a reconnaissance-in-force to locate the Army of the Potomac’s northern flank. The Rebels set off near midafternoon, crossing the Ni River and turning southeast toward the Harris and Alsop Farms, both of which lay along the Fredericksburg Road, Grant’s supply line.

Blocking their path were five regiments of Union heavy artillery, led by Brig. Gen. Robert Tyler. Grant had recently pulled the so-called Heavies from the defenses of Washington, given them rifles and used them to offset the Army of the Potomac’s losses at the Bloody Angle. Veterans derisively referred to heavy artillerymen as “bandbox soldiers.” Although new to infantry battle, each heavy artillery regiment was the size of a Confederate brigade. They fought with fresh spirit, and, once reinforced, slugged it out with Ewell’s veterans until nightfall allowed the Confederates to fall back.

The Harris Farmhouse, which also served as a hospital after the battle, had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the battle and its status as one Spotsylvania County's oldest structures. Sadly, the home was demolished by its new owner, who deemed it unsalvageable, in December 2014.

This New York buckle is about as nice and you’ll find. Possibly with some research, you might be able to identify the owner through his initials. I know the 4th and 7th New York Heavy Artillery were in the fighting at the Harris Farm. It comes in the glass top display case pictured.

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$9.50 (Fixed shipping cost)