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Time Periods => WWI (The Great War) => Allies => Topic started by: JerseyCaptain on May 19, 2008, 03:23:17 AM
Greetings everyone! I am assisting a friend, who lives in Nome, Alaska, in trying to get started with an historical impression of a very specific nature, and I would like to pick your brains and experiences for assistance. With advanced thanks for any reliable help!
The friend I am talking about wants to do a quality historical impression of a private from the U.S. Army's garrison at Fort Jefferson C. Davis, which was just south of Nome. It was built with the specific purpose of policing the Nome gold rush of 1898-1901, during the period in which Alaska was a military district of the United States. The soldiers mostly kept the peace between the miners, shyster lawyers, immigrants, Native Alaskans, homesteaders, and various other folks who flocked to Nome in 1900, and the garrison's presence was maintained until demobilization shortly after WWI, I believe.
I have seen one historical reference, from two period photographs, mentioning Company E, 30th U.S. Infantry Regiment (http://vilda.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/cdmg11&CISOPTR=3626 (http://vilda.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/cdmg11&CISOPTR=3626) and http://vilda.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/cdmg11&CISOPTR=3627&CISOMODE=grid (http://vilda.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/cdmg11&CISOPTR=3627&CISOMODE=grid))...which might have been at least one of the garrisoning units (the history of the fort and its garrison are rather hard to come by...though photos of the fort, and some of its soldiers, from 1901 through 1918 or so do exist). There are a few other photos of soldiers in Nome from the time period:
http://vilda.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/cdmg21&CISOPTR=6566 (http://vilda.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/cdmg21&CISOPTR=6566) (this one shows possible insignia of a 22nd Infantry Regiment on the board behind the officers. Not sure concerning this period of history).
http://vilda.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/cdmg21&CISOPTR=2169 (http://vilda.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/cdmg21&CISOPTR=2169) (possibly deployment of troops for WWI...first contingent was sent to front, from Nome, in 1918)
If there is ANY help anyone can provide to pointing me in the right direction...sutlers, historical resources on the U.S. Army in this period, the Alaska Military Department during that era, I would greatly appreciate it! I want to do everything I can for this friend of mine!
Kind of a tall order but it can be done. First, your friend needs to decide exactly what year he wants to portray because during the 1898-1918 timeframe, uniforms and equipment underwent some dramatic shifts.
In terms of uniform and equipment availability, your best bet is the 1912-1916 time frame although there's going to be some gaps even here.
The basic uniform tunic, breeches, shirt, greatcoat and waistbelt can be obtained from Schipperfabrik. The campaign hat with the five-row stitching is available from What Price Glory. Boots can be obtained from Mattimore Harness. Insignia can either be found on ebay or gun shows although it might take awhile to locate the correct collar insignia. Unfortuantely, nobody reproduces the 1910 Service Cap.
Schipper is slowly reproducing the correct field equipment of the era although he had yet to do the infantry pattern eagle-snap ammunition belt (originals can be a bit expensive to obtain).
That's just a very brief overview. I can supply references if interested.
Thanks buddy. I'm sorry I repeated the topic in two different boards...I was trying to cover the bases.
You see, I think he's interested in pre-WWI...more the 1899-1901 era, the height of the Nome gold rush. That's when the garrison was in its glory (and was, I believe, the reason for its assignment).
I know there are places to secure original items to augment any possible repros. I just wonder if such places could accomodate such a request. Realizing, of course, that it is a stretch, given that almost no one reenacts the period concerned.
Links to those sutlers would be a big help. I know they are probably all on the main reenactor.net site. But I am sharing the information here with the individual in question. Are there sources for usable original items from the era? Personally, I cringe at the idea of using originals for the purposes of reenacting and living history, but this would obviously not be for battle scenarios, so wear and tear would not be the same as in those kinds of events. And I know that WWI and WWII reenactors have long used original items to outfit themselves (and that, not too long ago, that was all that was available).
Also, any further research lines on the garrison, or the unit involved, would help. There is minimal information through most Alaska historical resources.
Thanks in advance!
OK, no problem!
If you're looking at doing the 1898-1900 time frame, then the only real source for uniforming is the Quartermaster Shop at:
For the 1895 Garrison Cap, Dirty Billy Hats is the only current source and they're at:
For the ammunition belt, haversack and leggings, Eureka Arsenal should be able to supply these. Also, they also have started stocking the appropriate campaingn hats:
Also, S&S Firearms has insignia and other odds and ends:
For footwear, Mattimore Harness is the one:
For the bayonet and Krag rifle, originals are the only way to go and sources are ebay (for bayonets), gun shows, auction arms and gunbroker.com.
That's pretty much the quick and dirty once-over for uniforms and equipment.
As for reseach, National Archives has a series of microfilms covering returns from all regular units for the period 1821-1916 as well as muster rolls. Additionally, they also have microfilms covering returns from all military installations. I'm sure there will be post returns for Nome. Another place to look is the annual reports published by the Secretary of War- they give a list of the Army's activities and there's a breakdown by area.
That's all I can think of right now off the top of my head. Hope this helps.
That should be a big help! Thanks, buddy! ;D
Good luck! The only other thing your buddy will need, and unfortunately nobody reproduces it, is the buffalo overcoat. ;D These were organizational issue items and were very popular with the men. The Govermnent held on to these long after the buffalo were gone.
That's cool. Say, I don't know the historical impression very well at all, but is that pretty consistent across the board? I mean, would units stationed in northwestern bush Alaska have had such things at that time? Or would there be special gear for the colder weather (allowing for the fact that, during the late spring and summer, it got tolerable weather-wise)?
So far, I've been able to find nothing more about the units which were garrisoned at Fort Davis. Any thoughts on how I might shed some light on that?
As far as extreme cold weather gear goes, by the late 1890s, the Army was very well equipped and there were a lot of speciality items such as rubber overshoes, hoods, muskrat caps and the like. Also, for campaign conditions, the Army tended to turn a blind eye to soldiers procuring all sorts of civilian pattern items and it's reasonable that soldiers would be wearing Muk-Luks (sp?) and the like- although I'd want to see more pictures. Also, the issue great coats were blanket-lined and speaking from personal experience, they're quite warm.
I'll see what I can find out as to Ft. Davis.
Here's some links that you might find useful:
It appears that the 16th infantry was stationed there in 1912 and they used skis.
As a follow-up, the Annual Reports of the Secretary of War might have some interesting information and some of the pertinent years are actually available online for downloading. Just go to:
and use "Annual Reports of the Secretary of War" as search terms.
The closest I could find was for 1903 and in the troop movements, there's mention of the 7th Infantry returning from Alaska to San Francisco. Overseas tours were usually for two years. There's also some interesting comments in the Commander of the Department of Alaska's official reports.
The rest is up to you... ;)