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Officer's field jacket

Object Number: 
1698
Date: 
1860-1865
Medium: 
Wool, silk, linen, metal, bone
Dimensions: 
Overall: 3 x 18 x 29 3/4 in. ( 7.6 x 45.7 x 75.6 cm )
Marks: 
stamped: reverse of 4 original buttons: "WATERBURY BUTTON CO."
Description: 
Dark blue wool artillery officer's (1st lieutenant?) single-breasted field (shell) jacket; 1" closed stand-up collar (1 hook, eye missing) lined with dark blue velvet; one shoulder strap extant with red velvet ground; (originally) 18 buttons down the front, closed sleeves (no cuffs) with (originally) 6 buttons (now missing); 4 panels on the back; inside lined with green linen, bodice lightly padded and quilted except center back 2 panels, slit pocket at left breast; buttons vary, original (4) with shield-breasted eagle, 1 of carved bone, 1 of metal.
Gallery Label: 
Beginning with his capture near Fredericksburg, Virginia, on May 5, 1864, during the Civil War's deadly Battle of the Wilderness, Lieutenant William Henry Shelton of the 1st Regiment New York Light Artillery wore this shell jacket across ten months of imprisonments and escapes in Georgia and South Carolina. He journeyed through rivers and snow—slaves and sympathetic southerners supplied food and shelter—before finally arriving at the 2nd Ohio Heavy Artillery’s outpost in Loudon, Tennessee. The jacket has been preserved in the same condition it was in at the end of the war, coated in grime and missing many of its brass buttons. Shelton later moved to New York City, where he worked as a writer and artist. He detailed his adventures for The Century magazine in 1890, depicting himself wearing the jacket in his accompanying illustrations.
Credit Line: 
Gift of William Henry Shelton, 1931
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group