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Tony Mugridge
08-14-2011, 05:13 AM
Here's some pictures taken at "Blasts from the Past" a multiperiod event in Romsey, Hampshire, England which took place last weekend (6 & 7 August) We were pitched with the Southern Skirmish Association and found the set-up to be very popular, ending up making all sorts of accoutrements, pegs, hooks etc, during the weekend. Also got to do an emergency MP40 submachine gun repair!!

http://i905.photobucket.com/albums/ac260/Mugridgebrick/American%20Civil%20War/P1020702.jpg

We soon found the forge provided for our every comfort!

http://i905.photobucket.com/albums/ac260/Mugridgebrick/American%20Civil%20War/P1020707.jpg

As farriers were often sent out "light" there was no need to take a heavy anvil - just a "pin" and a "bick" as the horseshoes would have been made bulk centrally. The shoes would only need to be heated and shaped for the hooves.

http://i905.photobucket.com/albums/ac260/Mugridgebrick/American%20Civil%20War/P1020697.jpg

Overall it was a good event. SOSKAN are the oldest American Civil War reenacting Society in the UK (1968) and still have founder members turning up for events. I reckon that makes it a good society to belong to. So much so we joined that weekend!!

hanktrent
08-14-2011, 09:08 AM
Do you have any information about those portable hand-crank forges being period? I got in an online discussion (http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?19390-Farrier-or-Black-Smith-Impression&p=119810&highlight=portable+forge#post119810) with a fellow who insisted they were, but couldn't provide much information. One sees them at a lot of 1860s events where craftsmen work, so I've been curious.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@gmail.com

Tony Mugridge
08-14-2011, 09:40 AM
Good point Hank, In the early '70's I worked at a small private museum and they had just such a forge. I sketched it back then, but built this one from memory! The one it's based on belonged to a travelling farrier so I guess it would be the same in the US as in England.

A common falicy is the big horse-hauled forges often photographed in the Civil War. These were usually for the Artillery Farriers and the Engineer Blacksmiths who would be in established camps way back from the front line. The cavalry farrier's kit would all have to be light enough to get moving at a few moments' notice.

hanktrent
08-14-2011, 12:33 PM
Those portable crank-style forges, for general commercial use from the post-war period, seem to show up a lot in museums and antique/junk shops. The trick is to date one to pre-1865.

Over on your side of the pond, it looks like the plan was to have both carts and pack-saddle forges for the cavalry:

http://books.google.com/books?id=dDIBAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA199



The cavalry have forge carts... The present arrangement of the forge on a separate frame has been introduced since the Crimean war. For mountain service there is a portable forge, which can be carried on a pack-saddle.

http://books.google.com/books?id=TSoBAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA146

in accordance with this estimate the farrier's equipment of a cavalry regiment in the field has been set down by the Wo.O. Circular (869, 6th July 1864) at two forge wagons. Two portable forges are also provided per regiment, which are adapted to be carried on pack-saddles.

I can't find what the U.S. Army was doing at the time, as far as cavalry forges. However, it looks like they did have forges that could be carried on pack mules, for mountain howitzers, but they had bellows:

http://books.google.com/books?id=dKlEAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA355

From the description, that kind of pack-saddle forge clearly has a bellows, and the following page describes the bellows in slightly more detail, for both the "field forge" and "portable forge," as being made of wood, iron and leather: http://books.google.com/books?id=dKlEAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA58

Bit of trivia, concerning Sherman's bummers and portable forges:

http://books.google.com/books?id=PhNAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA5587


The portable forge is almost entirely done away with in General Sherman's army. Nearly all the officers prefer carrying a small-sized bellows, using any ordinary box filled with dirt as a fire-box. The bellows is swung between two stakes, usually cut from the woods or taken from some fence, driven into the ground, with a piece nailed across the top to suspend the bellows handle. The box (usually a bread-box) is placed at its proper height on four forks or stakes driven into the ground, with pieces laid from one to the other to set the box on. They transport simply the bellows, anvil and tools, making use of any empty box or barrel for a fire-box. Nearly all the iron-work on the march from Atlanta to Savannah was done with forges of this description. Officers prefer this arrangement to the portable forge, because it does not get out of order and gives a better heat.

I'm just not convinced the crank-blower technology was typical for Civil War-era military or civilian portrayals, even though it became common post-war. But since crank blowers are so often interpreted to the public as being war-time, specifically war-time military, I'm still curious to see what various living-history blacksmiths have to offer in the way of documentation and research, so that's why I ask. :)

Hank Trent
hanktrent@gmail.com

Andy German
08-15-2011, 06:17 PM
Greetings:

Cavalrywise, on campaign federal cavalry generally carried a couple of fitted shoes so a forge was only necessary when they settled in for an extended period.

Below is a photo of a 1st Maine Cavalry forge in operation during the winter of 1862-63 opposite Fredericksburg. The vehicle combines the tool chest, an internal bellows (one fellow is holding the bellows pole), and the forge itself back aft. The portable anvil is set up on a post or tree trunk. Note the small kegs of shoes for fitting. The image is published in Tobie's History of the First Maine Cavalry.

Hope this helps,
Andy German
1st Maine Cavalry
10204

Ephraim_Zook
08-21-2011, 10:24 PM
Gents,
This link will lead you to US Letters Patent for a crank forge blower dated Feb 1860. I'm nowhere near mechanic enough to understand if this is exactly the kind of thing you are discussing, but it's worth a look.

http://www.google.com/patents?id=a2BkAAAAEBAJ&pg=PA2&dq=crank+forge+blower&hl=en&ei=77xRTq-2E8nZ0QGd9eydBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAjgU#v=onepage&q=crank%20forge%20blower&f=false

regards
Ron Myzie

hanktrent
08-21-2011, 11:20 PM
Gents,
This link will lead you to US Letters Patent for a crank forge blower dated Feb 1860. I'm nowhere near mechanic enough to understand if this is exactly the kind of thing you are discussing, but it's worth a look.

http://www.google.com/patents?id=a2BkAAAAEBAJ&pg=PA2&dq=crank+forge+blower&hl=en&ei=77xRTq-2E8nZ0QGd9eydBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAjgU#v=onepage&q=crank%20forge%20blower&f=false (http://www.google.com/patents?id=a2BkAAAAEBAJ&pg=PA2&dq=crank+forge+blower&hl=en&ei=77xRTq-2E8nZ0QGd9eydBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAjgU#v=onepage&q=crank%20forge%20blower&f=false)

regards
Ron Myzie

Now we're getting somewhere. Thanks! So, then the questions to explore are, was it in production? Who was using it, in what context? Was the crank located above the fan, as in the patent drawing, the only or most common configuration?

Though of course the other way to approach it would be to find out what kind of equipment was being used in the circumstances being portrayed, and focus on that.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@gmail.com

RJSamp
08-22-2011, 07:51 AM
Greetings:

Cavalrywise, on campaign federal cavalry generally carried a couple of fitted shoes so a forge was only necessary when they settled in for an extended period.

Below is a photo of a 1st Maine Cavalry forge in operation during the winter of 1862-63 opposite Fredericksburg. The vehicle combines the tool chest, an internal bellows (one fellow is holding the bellows pole), and the forge itself back aft. The portable anvil is set up on a post or tree trunk. Note the small kegs of shoes for fitting. The image is published in Tobie's History of the First Maine Cavalry.

Hope this helps,
Andy German
1st Maine Cavalry
10204

great pic! also shows a backwards facing cap (baseball catcher style), caps not kepi's, and a ton of hat brass on that dress hat.......

David Einhorn
02-12-2012, 04:02 PM
The sources of information on the subject of blacksmithing equipment are mainly:
1) Ordnance Manual(s) for Use of Officers........ in the various versions
2) The "Official Records", as available online and searchable for free.
3) The official army drawings created for the use of manufacturers of equipment for field use by the U.S. Army by Captain Albert Mordecai circa 1840s/1850s.

*Not* shown below is a wheeled Traveling Forge that I built, because I am not allowed to post attachments. The wheels by themselves took me about a year to construct, each wheel weighing over 200 pounds.

I am now working on reverse engineering a Naval-style blacksmith forge based upon a photograph of such a forge on the monitor Lehigh in the U.S. Naval archives. Because no other official documentation has yet to be found on these forges, I am using information from the Mordecai drawings of both the “Traveling Forge” and the “Portable Forge” for some of the details.

Blair
02-12-2012, 04:54 PM
David,

Just curious, and a question that begs to be asked... how much Farrier work did Naval blacksmiths do?
I believe, should someone want to actually check, ferries and blacksmiths are two similar yet very separate trades.
Having work as a Blacksmith at both Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement Park for almost 10 years, I can assure you, they are very much different!

David Einhorn
02-12-2012, 06:51 PM
David,

Just curious, and a question that begs to be asked... how much Farrier work did Naval blacksmiths do?
I believe, should someone want to actually check, ferries and blacksmiths are two similar yet very separate trades.
Having work as a Blacksmith at both Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement Park for almost 10 years, I can assure you, they are very much different!

Good point. I have been a hobby blacksmith researching the subject for over 38 years, and to my knowledge I am the only person who has written a book on blacksmithing during the War Between the States. I believe if you delve into the subject you will find that the Ordnance Manuals show that the Traveling Forges were accompanied by the tools to build and repair equipment of wood, leather, and iron and all Traveling Forges were also equipped with 200 pounds of premade horse shoes as well as bar stock to make horse shoes and other ironwork. Yes there were artisan smiths who exclusively made non-horseshoe items, and farriers that specialized and only shod horses, but the further back in time and the further away from civilization such as far away from the eastern settlements such as Williamsburg and Jamestown, the more likely a smith would by necessity be a jack of all ironwork thus fixing wheels, tiring wheels, shoeing horses, etc. Yes in well established settlements it would be expected that the iron-workers would likely specialize as farriers, and specialized artisans doing white-smithing, work in wheelwright shops, etc, and not work outside of their specialty.

A copy of the "Ordnance Manual for use of Officers of the United States Army" is available for free from: http://www.artilleryreserve.org/ it is under the topic of "Manuals and Published Reports", and shows the equipment tools and supplies for use with both the wheeled "Traveling Forge" as well as the "Portable Forge" for use with Mountain Howitzers.

And yes I doubt that naval *artisan* smiths had much call for shoeing horses if any. I don't recall ever saying that navy artisan smiths ever showed horses.

David Einhorn
02-13-2012, 10:03 AM
The sources of information on the subject of blacksmithing equipment are mainly:
1) Ordnance Manual(s) for Use of Officers........ in the various versions
2) The "Official Records", as available online and searchable for free.
3) The official army drawings created for the use of manufacturers of equipment for field use by the U.S. Army by Captain Albert Mordecai circa 1840s/1850s........

I would like to also add to this reference list:
4) The Library of Congress web site of picture archives
5) The U.S. Navy picture archive

In the search for information on the blacksmith equipment so far I have found:
*- Permanent civilian forge shops (which are not portable, so were not transported by army units.)

*- Wheeled "Traveling Forges" also referred to as Forges in both the Ordnance Manuals and the Official Records. It should be noted from examination of the various editions of the Ordnance Manual that there were two sets of equipment and designations for Traveling Forges. One set of tools and supplies for use with field artillery batteries, and the other specified set of tools and supplies for Field Park. Confederate General Duke refers to an operation in his autobiography where he takes two batteries of cannon with him. Perhaps he also took the regulation number of Traveling Forges and Battery Wagons that supported batteries with him. ;-) Also, the various versions of the Ordnance Manual describe how many Traveling Forges were to accompany various types of military units. Also, a period drawing shows several Traveling Forges being used in an open sided shed at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac.

*- "Portable Forges" so named in both the Ordnance Manuals and the Mordecai Drawings. Portable forges are the forges that were packed in boxes and carried on horseback. These were identified in the various versions of the Ordnance Manual for use with Mountain Howitzers, but may have been used elsewhere (I wouldn't place large bets either way.) ;-)

*- Wooden forges as shown in a photograph by Alexander Gardner being used by the Confederate smiths in front of Petersburg in 1864. This is a fascinating photo; I wish I could show it here. Shown in the photograph is a rather large wooden box with air blown in from the side by a fairly large bellows. Because of the size of the components, it is likely to be impractical for a living historian to transport and reassemble at events.

*- Wooden Box forges as described in a letter by L.C. Easton, Brevet Brigadier-General, Chief Quartermaster dated March 16, 1865 to Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi. In the letter he describes the Sherman’s army exclusively carrying the bellows and tools in a wagon, and using whatever wooden box or barrel, as a firebox supported by fence posts. This forge is interesting due to its efficiency and according to General Easton very functional and practical. Its only drawback for living historians is the lack of surplus boxes lying around, so it would likely need to be lined with brick or otherwise to preserve the costly wood box.

*- Sheet iron forges shown in the Naval Archives of one being used on the deck of the monitor Lehigh. I find this forge fascinating due to similarities to both the “Portable Forge” and to the later 20th century U.S. Army forges. Perhaps these forges are the missing-link in the evolution of the 20th century army folding forges. ;-)
These forges are basically a metal box with the bellows blowing in from the side, very similar to the Wooden Box Forges. The plus side for the living historian is that these forges combine durability with portability. While this forge was not documented as being used by cavalry, I would be remiss in not including this type of forge in an explanation of forges used in that time period and further remiss to not investigate the technology used in this piece of period equipment and in the examination of its efficiency.

So far these are the types of forges for which I have found documentation as being used during the War Between the States. No documentation has yet been found of a specifically designed forge for use for the Cavalry. Most drawings and photographs show the use of the wheeled Traveling Forge, with more than one sketch specifically stating that the smith is shoeing the horse of a cavalryman. I have also not found any mention of mechanical blowers in use during the war, and I would be very surprised to find that technology adopted before the end of the conflict.

All of the mobile forges documented as being used during the conflict were “side blast” forges with the air provided by bellows. This means that the air was blown in from the back side of the fireplace, and not from the bottom forge. Bellows was old tried and true technology that were easy to fabricate, and easy and quick to repair; characteristics appealing to the time and situation.