Rare Model 1839 Cartridge Box with MS (Massachusetts) Stamped Cartridge Box Plate


Rare Model 1839 Cartridge Box with MS (Massachusetts) Stamped Cartridge Box Plate – U.S. troops were challenged with design and field faults with the M1828 cartridge boxes; in the late 1830s a new pattern box was designed that instituted a more workable design for the field, as well as increasing the amount of ammunition that could be carried by each soldier. In the 1850s, the Army began to upgrade their weaponry, instituting the construction and use of the M1855, .58 cal., rifled musket, for example. These upgrades ultimately necessitated the need for a more updated cartridge box; the new, smaller caliber rifle cartridges did not fit in the tins of the M1839 boxes. There remained in the Army’s accoutrement stock, a quantity of the earlier, M1839 boxes, constructed to carry .69 cal. rounds. In addition, the army still maintained a significant number of the .69 cal. muskets, issued, just prior to the war and at the war’s onset, to both U.S. Army and state regiments. A group of contractors continued to produce the M1839 boxes, although the U.S. Ordnance Department insisted that belt loops be added to the back of these boxes – a feature that did not appear on the original issue M1839 cartridge boxes. These added loops were riveted to the back of the box.

This cartridge box retains all of the early, M1839 features – original sling loops, but no belt loops; the larger, bulbous, brass, closure finial; both .69 cal. cartridge tins; sewn leather, closure tab and the more unique, early style sling attachment buckles – japanned, thinner wire with a flat bladed tongue to insert into the sling straps. (One of the buckles is missing on this box.) Of significance is the presence of the box’s original US cartridge box plate, which is stamped with the letters “MS” – indicative of this box having been initialed issued to Massachusetts, infantry troops. This is the second M1839 box that we have had that exhibits this rare marking on the box plate. A fellow collector and relic hunter friend dug one of these plates, in an early Massachusetts  camp site, a number of years ago. The box remains in overall strong condition – it does exhibit some obvious “alligatoring” on the cover of the box, although the leather is strong, supple and is not flaking; the interior leather is in very good condition, as is the back of the box and the sling loops; both side “ears” remain attached to the cover. As mentioned, one of the sling attachment buckles is missing; the remaining sling attachment buckle is loosely affixed to the box. The brass finial is in good shape, as is the leather attachment tab. Both original tins remain and are in very good condition. Finally, the box plate exhibits a pleasing, aged patina and remains attached to the front of the box, via original thong segments.

Additionally significant is the maker name stamped on the interior flap:


N. York

This signifies the well-known saddler and accoutrement maker, Robert Dingee, Sr., who with his sons, Robert, Jr. and Henry A., made this cartridge box. Although Robert, Sr. died in 1843, he had a contract, obtained prior to his death, to make Model 1839 accoutrements. This is a rare example of an untouched, original, Dingee, M1839 cartridge box, remaining in its original configuration; in addition, it retains its original, rare, MS stamped box plate.