Equipment for Landing Parties

First off, the Navy is NOT in the ground combat business.  What equipment the Navy had on hand was adapted from equipment used by boarders (Those who attacked and boarder enemy ships to capture them).  The Navy used a Varity of small arms.  They were quite fond of carbines as they were short and easy to wield in confined spaces of ships decks.  However, by the Civil War, they used what ever they could get.  Ships equipage reports show that every ship in the Navy had a mixed bag of anything that would shoot.  As an example, they may have 4 Enfield rifles, 3 Enfield Rifle Muskets, 6 1842 Springfield Muskets, 9 1861 Springfield Rifle Muskets and 2 Shot Guns.  Side arms may be 3 1851 Navy Colts, 2 1851 Army colts, 4 Army Remington, 7 1860 Navy Colts, 3 1842 Ames single shot pistols. The long arms may or may not have the associated bayonet.  Cutlass were a mix of Navy 1841 and 1860 Ames and 1832 Army Artillery Swords (same blade and features as the 1841 cutlass).

Leather gear was bundled in sets.  It would consist of a waist belt, a cartridge box (for a specific weapon), belt carriage prefered, cap pouch (if required by that weapons ammunition) and bayonet (if available and required for that weapon.  Accouterment sets were given the same number as the weapon they were for and often stowed with the weapon.  No weapons were the property of the individual Sailor in the Army fashion.  They were handed out when needed to the Sailor requiring them, who signed for the set and then turned in when the need was over.  A Sailor may or may not get the same gear each time he drew weapons.  The Navy did attempt to produce Naval pattern leather gear.  There were shops set up on the Naval Ship Yards to make it.  But, they could never produce the numbers required, so they went to outside contractors.  However, most leather gear and Infantry weapons came from the Army.  It was generally “surplus”, worn out and beat up.  Many reports of weapons that had to be cannibalized to make a functioning weapon.  This includes captured CS weapons and equipment.  Photos of Sailors with Army gear are common as ar shots showing mixed Army and Navy patterns.  Naval pattern musket boxes were all .69 cal. And had the cap pouch sewn to the front under the

The equipment of the men of landing parties was determined by their position in the landing party.  Basically, there were three types of men on a landing party.  “Men Armed as Infantry”, “boat Crew” and “Gun Crew”.

1, “Men Armed as Infantry”-Long Arm, Waist belt, cartridge box, cap pouch and bayonet.

2. “Boat Crew”- Waist Belt with Cutlass and scabbard, pistol with frog, cartridge box and cap pouch (The Navy used open top and bottom “frogs” to carry pistols.  However, Army flap holsters were common.

3.-“Gun Crew” These men crewed the Dahlgren Boat howitzers.  They were armed with the Dahlgren Bowie Bayonet.

Other equipment

landing parties did not generally carry haversacks nor canteens.  They were intended to travel light and fast, carrying only what they needed to complete their mission.  They were supposed to go ashore, do the mission and return to the ship that day.  Thus, boat crews were not generally counted as part of the Landing Party and were armed only defensively.  They guarded the boats and were ready to load the landing party and shove off immediately

When needed, haversacks and canteens were used.  Again, these did not belong to the Sailor.  The Ships cook would be informed as to how many men were going ashore that would require rations.  The Navy did in fact use the same manual as the Army concerning Field or “Marching Rations”.  Yes, they ate the same salt meat and hard tack as Soldiers, same amounts so I will not go into that as it is available else where.

The cook would go to the Landing Force Locker (a box in the corner of the armory) and draw the number of haversacks and canteens needed for the Landing Party. (Note here, any period correct haversack and canteen US or Cs was used by the Navy all mixed together).

He would cook up the number of rations and load them into the haversacks.  He would also fill the canteens from the fresh water casks.  The cook would decide on coffee or tea.  Generally what he had the most of.  Coffee was roasted and beans, not ground (lazy cook), would be wrapped in paper, tea seemed to be mostly the “squares”. The Sailors would get their cup from their mess chest and report to the galley to draw rations.  They would sign for the rations, haversacks and canteens.

When blankets were carried, it was only one and only a blanket.  They did not have rubber blankets/ponchos/ground cloths.  It was rolled in a horse collar.  This was very rare.  Remember, everything had to be carried and the Sailor had to ride in a boat.  The more stuff he had, the more room he took in the boat and the more weight he put in the boat.  Another reason why haversacks, canteen and blankets were rarely taken ashore.

Other stuff.

Along with the “issue” gear, the Sailor would have a few personal items.  Nothing like a Soldier on the march though.  He would have a pocket knife.  Every Sailor had one.  And it was just a pocket knife like Soldiers carried of the “Barllow” type. Maybe a handkerchief.  Only an officer or some one in a position of authority would have had a watch.  They were expensive and would be destroyed if the Sailor got dunked getting in or out of the boat, not to mention sand.  They may have carried smoking materials with them, but again getting wet and the fact that Sailors were forbidden and fire starting material at all made smoking a sanctioned group event.  If they had it they would only smoke when and if the “Authority” authorized it and if they could get fire.  Also one reason why rations were cooked on the ship.  The Duty Gunners Mate was the only Sailor allowed to have fire starting equipment.   This was due to the primal fear of fire on board ship.  Remember, ships were wood, (Iron clads were wooden ships with a layer of iron plate on the outside), wood soaked in paint, varnish, grease, oil with a layer of coal dust and a nice load of more of the same and black powder.  Very bad mix with fire.

Sailors would not carry their wallets.  The wallet was stowed in the bottom of the seabag.  It contained everything important to the Sailor.  Money (if he had any), His enlistment papers, old discharges (like a resume to them), pay receipts, chits for the purchase fo any goods from the ships store, and any other important papers.  He would not take that where he could loose it.  If he were going to take money or something of that nature ashore, he would carry a small cloth or leather pouch around his neck..