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Rare, excavated maker-marked Eagle Breast Plate, dug Culpeper, VA


Product Description

This is another nice piece being offered, it is an excavated maker-marked, Union Eagle Breast Plate. Use of the round shoulder plate was approved with the regulation of 1826; most were manufactured 1850's through end of the Civil War. Designed as adornment only for the shoulder strap, the plate was die struck on thin brass sheet, solder filled, with wire loop hooks (see period photo).

Configured with two iron hooks formed on a loop with ends bent upward, mounted to the cartridge box shoulder strap. The majority of breast plates were never marked and those that were, have worn off. This one is marked by the maker on the reverse with “BOYD & SONS / BOSTON”. As with just about all of dug breast plates, the thin wire attachment loops have rusted away. This plate was recovered years ago from the Culpeper, Virginia Battlefield.

General Robert E. Lee drove out General Pope from Culpeper County during the Second Manassas Campaign (1862), and the county remained Lee's favored staging area for the remainder of the war. He selected Culpeper for his winter quarters after the Maryland Campaign and the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, and a portion of his army occupied the county following the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862.

Lee launched the Gettysburg Campaign from Culpeper, though not before his cavalry, under J. E. B. Stuart, faced off against Union troopers at Brandy Station in the largest cavalry battle of the war, in June 1863. Lee returned to Culpeper following Gettysburg and would have wintered there had not the Union Army of the Potomac pushed him out in September. Lee returned the favor a month later by ousting the Union troops, only to be expelled himself in the Battle of Rappahannock Station (1863).

Culpeper remained mostly in Union hands thereafter. The Army of the Potomac wintered there from November 1863 until May 1864, when General Grant embarked on the Overland Campaign. The momentum of war then gravitated toward Richmond and Petersburg, and Culpeper saw only occasional Union raiding parties, the largest one sweeping through the community in December 1864.

The Breast Plate has a nice chocolate colored face, only a small rust spot on the center of the eagle. The Boyd marking on the reverse is pretty obvious. Over time, many soldiers discarded these plates because they felt they made good targets for the Confederates. This is only the first maker-marked breast plate that I had – they rarely show up on the collectors market. It comes in the glass top display case pictured.

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$4.50 (Fixed shipping cost)