Appraisal Video: (3:19)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: My neighbor, who was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, came over before he passed away and he just said, "I'd like for you to have this." He had been given that from somebody else, but he never did tell me who, but he wanted me to have it, so...
APPRAISER: Okay, well, what we have-- it's a Confederate canteen.
APPRAISER: It's from the American Civil War. It was carried by a Confederate soldier. It's actually made out of cedarwood. It's kind of a homespun idea of a canteen when you've got the United States Army with these wonderful metal canteens. If you'll notice, you'll see openings in the slats, where they go around...
APPRAISER: That's because you have to make this wet
APPRAISER: to get it to hold water, to get it watertight, just like a boat. It's a really folky item. As a matter of fact, the cedarwood canteens are one of the favorite souvenirs for a Union solider, because he just can't believe the Confederates are armed with these wooden canteens. An interesting aspect, and we see this quite a bit on these canteens, is the owner has carved his name into it. If you look at the top, we're going to see "W.C. Jones..."
APPRAISER: It says "Company B..."
APPRAISER: And this says "First ALA," and that's for Alabama.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: So we did a quick check. The First Alabama was actually raised at a fort in Pensacola, Florida. They came from several counties in Alabama. They were there, they mustered in, and it was in the year of 1861, right around March. There are a thousand guys when it starts, so it's a pretty large size unit. They leave from Pensacola and they're sent to Island Number Ten, off of Missouri, where they are almost immediately all captured. So then they go through the whole process of being paroled, and then they send them straight to Port Hudson, Louisiana, where, once again, they're almost immediately captured.
APPRAISER: Then they're paroled again. And then the real horrible stuff starts for them. They fight in every campaign in and around Atlanta. And then, from there, they go to Franklin, and then on to Nashville. The regiment was heavily engaged on several different occasions. At the end of the war, they end up in North Carolina. Out of those thousand men, only a hundred are there...
APPRAISER:...at the end of the war. One of the neat things about this canteen, too, is it actually still has its cotton sling, and that's a very hard thing to find. As you can imagine, they fall apart, rodents eat them. You have this nice little bone button, it's really pretty. This is a nice aspect to have. You remember how I told you they were raised at Pensacola, Florida?
APPRAISER: Well, this is kind of fun. When we turn this canteen over... we're going to see where Mr. Jones wants you to know that. He's nicely carved on the back side: "Pensacola, Florida, 1861." This is a very, very popular collectible item. People who collect Confederate things are fascinated by these canteens. It's nice to have them I.D.'d. Now we kind of know something about the guy who had it. Any idea as to value?
GUEST: I was offered $300 for it at a garage sale, but of course, it's not for sale.
APPRAISER: All right. Well, your friend left you a nice thing, and $300 would have been a huge mistake. In a retail situation, this is a $5,000 canteen.
APPRAISER: Not $300, $5,000.
GUEST: You're kidding.
APPRAISER: Nope. Very, very popular object. Carving is very nicely done, and it's got good history.
GUEST: I'll have to put it in a secure place, then.
APPRAISER: That's right. Well, I appreciate you bringing it.
GUEST: Wonderful! Thank you.