What the Civil War Soldier Carried

Some years ago when we were "beginning collectors," we asked Dr. Francis A. Lord what a soldier carried in his knapsack, haversack or carpet bag. We found the following list most helpful as we attempted to reconstruct the personal belongings of a typical recruit.

Diary and case with pencil

writing paper and envelopes

mess plate

knife, fork & spoon (or combination of the same)

coffee boiler

tin cup

tin basin

soap and soap box

folding pewter cup and case

pipe and chewing tobacco and tobacco twist

army issue short candle

folding comb and case

identification disc with cord or chain

clay or wooden pipe


coffee and sugar in white bags

matches in box or a cardstrip of lucifers

brass candle holder

deck of playing cards

tompion made of wood, brass or cork

gun tools: cleaning jag, tumbler, ball screw, nipple wrench, tumbler punch

spare cone and spring vice

nipple protector & chain (or carved Minie protector)

worm and wiper

a pocket bible and hymnal

religious statue in case or rosary

money and stamps

water filtering device and case

glasses in case

traveling inkwell

rifle manual


button brush

watch and chain

tintype of wife or sweetheart

extra leggings

razor strop in case and folding straight razor

shaving cup and brush

housewife with buttons, thread, needles etc.

pewter or horn on cord

pay voucher


warrant, proclamation, parole, discharge

commission in case


sutler folding pocket knife

oil can

clean longjohns

powder flask for pistol and rifle

tourniquet in tin case

pen in case

whiskey flask

compass in case

small hatchet


button board and button wax


coffee pot

box of figs

can of sardines


tactics manual

sutler coins and paper currency

checkers in box with board

blacking for boots and brush

maps and map case

wood carving

reading material

hair brush and comb

dominoes in case

condensed milk

instant coffee

brass knuckles (or lead or iron)

dice and dice cup

extra shirt

jews harp



traveling writing desk

black or white waterproof kepi cover

bottle of bitters

hair tonic

woolen scarf

N.B. Many of these items are available for purchase in our on-line catalog.