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Thread: Heel Plates

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Madison, IN


    Cobbler answer:

    The question that was asked has evolved. Heel plates should be on the outside/matching shape of the heel profile. Without the plate hitting the outside edge the heel, the leather wears down. Plates are all surface mounted, The issue is with infilling. Infilling keeps mud from building up, but more importantly keeps the plate from snagging and pulling off. Infilling seems to always be secondary, the heel is not actually channeled.

    The real problem is what is sold as heel plates these days. The best I have gotten to date is CW heel plates were 1/4 to 5/16 wide and 1/8 thick. There was also machining so the cross section was L or C shaped not just flat stock. The closest today is the 1940/50's German plate that can still be found sometimes. There are several 1/2 by 1/8 plates out there that don't actually match heel profiles. Some shoe manufacturers seem to match there heel to the plate profile. It looks odd, but I haven't seen enough to say it is wrong yet. There are also 1950 Army plates that some folks use, narrow at the ends but 1 1/2 wide compared to the ends at the back. Completely wrong in style and not hitting the edge.

    There is nothing wrong with a leather top lift on the heel and cut nails on the edge. Five nails to the inch within an 1/8 inch of the edge should make the sole wear down at the same time as the heel. I have yet to see a shoe come in with that build. Cut nails are spaced apart more and farther from the edge on repros I have seen.

    Rubber is wrong, period. I will avoid the pros and cons at this point.

    Been trying to document heel plates for the last two years. I still need more primary research before I try doing documented repros.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Near Hanover, PA


    I just got an education. Thank you.
    "Grumpy" Dave T.

    "Biggest problem is, at most "reenactments," nobody knows what their "historical" job was. And, in most cases the privates are worse off than the NCO's and Officers." - Deceased

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    Being unable to post pictures (for some unknown forum glitch) there are two pictured near the bottom of this page
    The plain flat iron horseshoe shaped plate on the right of the picture is the most common found. It was nailed on with anywhere from three to 5 nails. It was not GI.
    Jim Mayo
    Member of the old vets mess.

  4. #14



    I have taken the liberty of posting your image and description, Herr Jim.

    HEEL PLATES: These heel plates are typical of those found in areas visited by the Union armies in Virginia. These were found in a 2nd Corps trench at Cold Harbor. They are the most common style but other varients do exist. Each heel plate shown here was held on by three nails. Heel plates are not recovered in any quantity from Confederate positions. A study of photographs showing dead Confederates at Antietam, Gettysburg and Petersburg do not show a single heel plate however several hob nailed shoes are evident in the Gettysburg photos.

    These are quiet similar to several I once examined from the Wilderness area.

    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.


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