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July  |  Sealed Sample for 48-Star Recruiting Flag

This particular flag, is special to the Quartermaster story as it is an example of a “standard sample”. This means that it was to serve as an example of the design specifications to which all flags of this type should conform. These examples would be sent out to producers so that they had something tangible in addition to the specifications. An attached tag from the War Department, Office of the Quartermaster General shows that this Recruiting Flag sample was adopted on February 21, 1914, conforming to Specification No. 1201. The tag has a wax seal on the back and the front is signed by Henry Sharpe, who would become the 24th Quartermaster General two years later in 1916.

A unique aspect of the Recruiting Flag is that a ridged cardboard plank has been sewn into the white stripe directly below the blue field. This style of flag was probably meant to hang indoors, perhaps on a wall, as opposed to being run up a flag pole outdoors. The missing section in the top right portion of the flag seems to have been deliberately removed at some point in the past, perhaps to provide a color sample (part of it is affixed to the back of the flag).

With the additions of New Mexico and Arizona as states, the American flag expanded to 48 stars on July 4, 1912. This was the first time that a flag act specified an official arrangement of the stars in the canton, namely six rows of eight stars each, where each star would point upward. Throughout the 19th century, different star patterns had been abundant in civilian use, but the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy had already been using standardized designs. The 48-star flag was in use from 1912 to 1959, the second longest-used U.S. flag.

Artifact Images

July |
Sealed Sample for 48-Star Recruiting Flag

June  | World War II Waterproof Special Purpose Bag 

This month is the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, so it is fitting that we highlight this unique piece of equipment designed by the Quartermaster Corps during World War II. Radios and other electronic equipment during the war were crucial for communication, so the QMC developed a series of Special Purpose Bags for use in amphibious operations, such as the D-Day landings. These were sometimes called “Invasion Bags”. The purpose of these waterproof bags was to protect special Signal Corps radio equipment against natural elements such as rain, spray, and immersion during amphibious operations.

Several variations of “Bag, Waterproof, Special Purpose” were therefore designed and introduced as early as 1943. They came in a variety of shapes and dimensions, intended to protect specific types of equipment. For additional protection, Signal Corps equipment was often wrapped in double texture fabric against rain or water during amphibious landings. Some soldiers also utilized these bags in wet environments like the jungles of the South Pacific.

The bag is made of rubberized canvas and this particular one was produced by the U.S. Rubber Company. It is one of the larger variants, measuring 18” high x 12” wide. To help keep out water, the inside surface was also rubberized, and the canvas opening was extended so that the soldier could roll it tight after closing the rubber “lips”. Straps allowed it to be cinched closed as well as to be worn either as a backpack or attached to a packboard for easier weight distribution in rough terrain.

This bag is a good example of the many specialized types of equipment that the Quartermaster Corps was called on to develop in overcoming challenges on the battlefield during World War II.

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May  |  Gold Star Mother’s Medal

After World War I, the families of soldiers who had died overseas in France were given the choice to have their loved ones brought back to the United States, or to be interred with their comrades in 8 newly created American cemeteries in Europe. Roughly 37% of the dead were interred in these permanent cemeteries abroad.

In March 1929, eleven years after World War I, the U.S. Congress passed a law authorizing the use of government funds to pay for mothers and widows of fallen veterans to visit their loved ones buried on the battlefields of Europe. This unprecedented program honoring the “Gold Star” mothers and widows was entrusted to the Quartermaster Corps for proper and faithful execution.

The medal, made by Tiffany & Co., was given to the 6,693 Gold Star mothers and war widows who made the pilgrimage between 1930 and 1933. The obverse shows a ship flanked by the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, with a gold star prominently above. These particular medals are marked with “1930” signifying the year in which they were issued. The reverse has the inscription “Gold Star Pilgrimage to the Battlefields of the Great War” along with ivy surrounding the “United States Line”, the steamship line who transported the women across the Atlantic. The medals are also marked along the rim with their number. These two particular medals are numbered 32 and 3466.

Artifact Images

May |
Gold Star Mother’s Medal

April  |  M1899 Tropical Field Service Uniform

This M1899 tropical field jacket shows a shift in uniform design based on shifting American foreign policy. Army uniforms up to this point had largely been made from blue dyed wool. However, in May 1898, at the start of the Spanish-American War, the Army adopted a khaki cotton field service uniform based on the British pattern that would be more suitable in tropical climates. However, because of production problems, no khaki uniforms were issued prior to troops deploying at the onset of the Spanish-American War.

The new uniform also underwent some rapid changes during this time span, as between August 1898 and August 1899 the Army issued no fewer than four patterns of khaki field service coats. Many of the coats issued in the Philippines were the British Pattern 95 Foreign Service type, procured in Hong Kong. The Spanish-American War and other military activities brought high demands, and because of this the Quartermaster Corps could not come up with a standard design or a uniform color.

This jacket has post commissary sergeant chevrons on both sleeves, with the crescent moon signifying commissary, a symbols still in use today for Class I supplies (food, rations, water). The sergeant who wore this jacket oversaw commissary supplies and the storehouse.

Artifact Images

April |
M1899 Tropical Field Service Uniform

March  |  Civil War Canteen

This M1858 canteen was carried by Private Joseph L. Clark of Company E, 46th Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War. Due to the design, it is clear that the canteen was contracted through the New York Quartermaster Depot. The tin pieces (guides) sticking out from the canteen once held the strap, running along the body of the canteen. Unfortunately, the strap and the stopper are missing from this particular piece. The cloth cover on this canteen is a gray colored cotton and wool plain weave. However, the most interesting thing about this canteen is that it is named to Pvt. Clark with his unit information. It is unclear if this information was added during his service or after the war.

Joseph Clark enlisted on August 26, 1862, when the 46th Massachusetts was forming in response to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 300,000 men to serve for nine months. A stone mason in civilian life, Clark was 33 years old and married when he enlisted. The soldiers of the 46th Massachusetts served in North Carolina for most of the nine months of their enlistment, but then was sent north in June 1863 in anticipation of a campaign in Virginia. However, orders changed with the Army of Northern Virginia’s invasion of the north, and by early July the 46th found themselves attached to I Corps, Army of the Potomac in pursuit of the Confederate army in the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg. Pvt. Clark mustered out on July 28, 1863, with the rest of his unit.

Artifact Images

March |
Civil War Canteen

February  |  “Six Triple Eight” WAC Jacket

This standard issue WAC uniform jacket was worn by PFC Margaret G. Sales when she worked as a Postal Clerk 056 with the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. This enlisted winter battledress jacket women’s field jacket was approved for wear in 1944. When production quotas of the uniform could not be met in the U.S., these uniforms were authorized to be produced in England and Ireland. PFC Sales’ uniform was produced by Corby, Palmer, & Stewart a British Manufacturer.

“The question of the providing a limited number of garments for WACs and nurses is an emergency due to the fact that production in the States had not been forthcoming and to the fact that women on the Far Shore must be furnished a suitable garment. . .To meet this current emergency you are authorized to confirm the agreement with Debenhams [a British department store].” - General R.M. Littlejohn to Colonel Cohen, August 9, 1944.

Margaret Glenn Sales Semmes, from Chicago’s South Side, was a music student at Northwestern University before she joined WAC on her 20th birthday. Assigned as a Postal Clerk, Pvt. Semmes was a prolific letter writer who documented her work and travels in letters to friends and family. During a trip to Switzerland, a photograph of Semmes and her friend Lucy was featured on the front page of a magazine. While abroad, Pvt. Semmes attended Trinity College of Music in London.

This jacket will be featured in an upcoming exhibit on the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion next door at the US Army Women’s Museum.

Artifact Images

February |
“Six Triple Eight” WAC Jacket

January  |  Model 1832 Chapeau-de-Bras from Major General Mooers

This Chapeau-de-Bras (a formal officer’s hat designed to be carried under ones arm) belonged to Major General Benjamin Mooers (1758-1838), and dates to 1832. It is part of a complete Model 1832 general officer’s uniform worn by Mooers and is one of the oldest artifacts in the museum’s collection.

Benjamin Mooers served in the Revolutionary War as a junior officer in the Continental Army’s Second Canadian regiment, commanded by his uncle, Colonel Moses Hazen. Payroll records show him as part of Captain William Popham’s Company as early as 1778, although some sources suggest that he was in the militia before joining the Continental Army. Hazen’s Regiment fought throughout the war and was present at the siege of Yorktown, witnessing the effective end of the conflict. During the War of 1812, the state of New York made Benjamin Mooers a Major General in the militia and put him in command of forces in the northeast part of the state. He fought in the defense of Plattsburgh, NY in September 1814.

This dress hat reflects Mooers’ War of 1812 militia rank of Major General and was likely used for special events in the last years of his life. The hat and its corresponding uniform are fine examples of early 19th century dress uniforms.

Artifact Images

January |
Model 1832 Chapeau-de-Bras from Major General Mooers