Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 Medal, DUVCW Membership Medal, 1940's - 1950's

After my last post of my newest medal, the G.A.R. membership medal, I felt inspired to dig out another old "veteran" medal that I've had tucked away in the bunker.

This medal is a membership medal from the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.  This is a civic, and patriotic organization of women who are all directly descended from a Union Civil War veteran.

My particular medal most likely dates to the early post-WW2 era, based on the older, copper colored bronze used in the medal and top hanger.  I picked this up at a yard sale, years ago, so I don't know much about it.

The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 was formed on June 3, 1885.  The organization was originally called The National Alliance of Daughters of Veterans of the United States of America.  It was officially endorsed by the G.A.R (see my previous blog post) in 1900. 
gar-membership-medal-us-civil-war Blog Post

The organization changed its name to "Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865" in 1944. In 1985 they were granted a Federal Charter by public law.

Here is a link to the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 website, where you can learn more about them.


Basically the D.U.V.C.W. has the mission of preserving history, Civil War Battlefields, participating in the celebration of national holidays, preserving patriotism, granting scholarships and maintaining a free Civil War Museum.  

Here is a comparison photo of my D.U.V.C.W. medal up against a US $2.00 bill to give a good idea of the size.  The medal is a bit on the small size as medal go, but is very nicely detailed.

The "FCL", on the top hanger stands for "Fraternity, Charity, Loyalty".

Now let's take a look at the album.  


Monday, March 19, 2018

G.A.R. Membership Medal, US Civil War Grand Army of the Republic, Union Army Veteran Samuel Rouse, GAR

Today we'll be taking a look at the newest medal that I have added to the collection. 

This last weekend I picked up a beautiful G.A.R. Membership Medal from the original veteran's great great granddaughter.  It is not often that I have the chance to put a name to an artifact this old, but in this case luck was with me!

This medal belonged to a US Civil War, Union Army veteran named Samuel Rouse.  I don't know anything else about his service in the Civil War, so that bit of research will continue.

The Grand Army Of The Republic, also known as the G.A.R., was founded in 1866, immediately following the Civil War.  It wasn't really a "force to be reckoned with" until it was reorganized in the 1880's.  During, and shortly after, the US Civil War, the US Government had promised pensions for the Union Soldiers who had fought for so many years.  When the war was over, the government realized that what they had promised was going to be tough to deliver and the stalling began.  The G.A.R. stepped up and became a powerful, organized advocate for veterans, and the pensions started rolling in.  The membership started growing as well.   

In the late 1880's, when the G.A.R. reorganized, the G.A.R. Veteran's Membership Medal was born.

 The G.A.R. remained active until 1956, when the last Member passed away.  In 1954, the US Congress chartered the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War as the successor organization.  The "Sons" are still active today.


Here is a wonderful history if the G.A.R. on the "Son's" website:


In the 1880's, the G.A.R. designed a medal that was to be required for all members to purchase and wear.  If these old medals look a bit familiar, it is because they bear more than a slight resemblance to the original US Army Congressional Medal of Honor!  In fact The G.A.R. medal used the same star,  and a slightly rearranged Eagle and Crossed Cannons hanger.........they even chose a ribbon that was nearly identical! 

This medal caused quite a bit of controversy with the military and instead of designing a new medal, they simply changed the color of the ribbon on the later versions of the US Congressional Medal of Honor.  Here is an interesting comparison between a Civil War Medal of Honor and a G.A.R. medal of the time. The G.A.R. medal is on the right.

Photo form Gettysburg National Park Collection
 After the G.A.R. was reorganized, and the new membership medal was designed and required, the new members started purchasing them.  Each member was required to purchase their medal from the official quartermaster.  To prove that the medals were authentic and properly obtained, a small serial number was stamped on every official medal.  The first was letter that corresponded to the G.A.R. Commander of the year, and the next digits were a sequential number.  Unfortunately, there were no records kept on which veteran purchased which medal.  During membership inspections, each veteran's medal was checked to see that had a proper serial number.  If it was missing, I understand the vet was drummed out of the unit!

The serial number on my medal is P3249.  

The original veteran-owner of my medal was Samuel Rouse.  His granddaughter said that she believed that Samuel purchased this particular medal in the 1920's.  A quick check of the list of G.A.R. Commanders showed that in 1921-1922, the Commander was Lewis Stephen Pilcher.  So, the "P" in the number and the granddaughter's story line up.

A check of Union Civil War Soldier's Roster, shows that there were 7 soldiers named Samuel Rouse, who served in various infantry units and a Sr. and Jr. that served in a home guard unit.  With a little bit more information, I should be able to figure out our veteran's Civil War history.

I have had an old photo of a Civil War G.A.R. veteran in my collection for over 30 years.  I believe it was taken in the teens or 1920's.  It fits the time frame for my medal, so I will be displaying them together.   Unfortunately I have no information on the veteran in the photograph.

Various GAR encampment medals with a G.A.R. Officer medal on the left.

So with all of that said, let's take a closer look ant this amazing medal.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

WW1 Trench Art Matchbook Holder, 6th Battalion, Queens Regiment, Royal West Surrey, Private Raymond William Revill, Matchbox Slip

As promised, here is another new posting on yet another interesting piece that I recently picked up.

While I was cruising around town, and hitting my local "junk store" haunts, I noticed this little gem in the back corner of a display case.  After a bit of back and forth, bargaining with the shop owner, this beautiful bit of WW1 history was mine!

This little brass box is a matchbook holder that belonged to a British soldier from West Surrey, in the UK.  It is an original item brought back from the Trenches of France during WW1.

These little covers are quite amazing, and many of them give quite a bit of history about the original owners.  This holder is what is commonly known as "trench art", or rather an item made by a soldier in the field for personal use, or as a war souvenir.  This holder falls into both of those categories.  It is both a personal use item and a personal souvenir of the war.

This cover was crafted by hand, from a piece of old artillery shell brass.  The artwork on the surface was also done by hand, with a small stamping tool, probably a sharpened nail, or something of the sort. I can picture the soldier now, sitting in the trenches of France, and passing the time making this little holder.

During the WW1 Years, nearly every soldier smoked, and boxed matches were the most common way of lighting up your pipe or cigarette.  To keep your box of matches from getting crushed in your pocket, a matchbook holder was used to hold and protect it.  The soldiers had a ton of time to kill, so that time was often filled with eating, sleeping, and making some bits of trench art.  One of the more common items to make were these little matchbook holders.

The front of this holder is marked:

R. W. Revill 
6.=Batt Queens

The back is marked:


Inside the matchbox, was a little note from a prior owner, giving a few more details.  This gave me a good place to start my research.  I contacted Surrey History Center and Museum to see if they could help in tracking down some history on R. W. Revill and his unit (I could find nothing on Revill in my searching).
They were quick to get back to me, and this is what they had to say:

Thank you for your e-mail of 15 January concerning a matchbox cover inscribed R W Revill of 6th Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

According to R W Revill’s medal index card and the medal volumes for the First World War, both of which are available on the family history website Ancestry, his full name was Private Raymond William Revill, his regimental number was G78558 and he served just with the 6th Battalion.

The 6th Battalion was formed in Guildford in August 1914 and was designated a Service Battalion, which was raised for just the period of the war. Unfortunately, Raymond William Revill is not mentioned in our rough recruitment register of those who enlisted at Guildford, reference no. QRWS/1/3/3. Neither do his service papers appear to have survived (an estimated 60% were destroyed during the Second World War). However the G prefix to his number means that he enlisted between August 1914 and about December 1915 for three years or the duration of the war.

He does appear to have survived the war since he is not mentioned on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

Battalions of the New Armies

6th (Service) Battalion
Formed at Guildford in August 1914 as part of K1.
August 1914 : under command of 37th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division.

6th (Service) Battalion (QRWS/14/-)

The two names on the back of the cover reference two of the major battles that the unit participated in, The Battle of the Somme, and The battle of Arras.  Both were bloody and terrible.

I did some extensive digging through some old UK photo archives, and ran across a couple of beautiful photos of a few men from the 6th Battalion in the trenches.  Who knows, one of them might be our soldier Revill !  Both photos are from the Imperial War Museum Archives.

6th Bat. Queens Royal West Surrey Reg. Arras, March 1917

6th Bat. Queens Royal West Surrey Reg. Arras, March 1917

Since I picked up this little holder here in the US,  it could be a safe guess that he may have emigrated after the war, or possibly it was brought over by a relative.  There is no way to know for sure, but at least we have a bit of Raymond Revill's wartime story to go with it.
Here is the photo album.  Enjoy.

Monday, February 26, 2018

WW1 Victory Medal, United States with Transportation Bar, and New York State Militia Long and Faithful Service Ribbon

Here is a VERY unique WW1 medal that I picked up at a little junk store on Orcas Island, Washington, a couple of weeks ago.

It is a WW1 US Victory Medal, with a Transportation Bar, and the ribbon from a New York State Militia Long and Faithful Service Medal.  Very unique, and I believe, an authentic, veteran modified, medal from WW1.  Here is the "story" as I see it, as told by the "clues".  But first, let's look at some details.

When I purchased this medal, it came in the old jewelry box, in the condition you see here.  

The jewelry box has the name of a very prominent and respected jeweler of the time, Roland W. Esterly, of Duluth Minnesota.

Roland Esterly opened up his jewelry store in 1918 and continued to do business there, at least, well into the 1920's, if not longer.  His name and associated business is referenced more than once in the old journals as one of the top jewelers of the city.  

From NY State Militia Div. of Naval & Military Affairs.

The ribbon on the medal is from a New York State Militia Long and Faithful Service Medal.  Originally this medal would have been issued to a militia member after serving for a set number of years, and then "retiring".  New York had a State Naval Militia as well as land forces at the time of WW1 (they still do in fact!).  The original medal would have been suspended on a neck ribbon.  There was a small "year" charm that the the neck ribbon passed through.  (These old medals with neck ribbons and the year charms, are now obsolete, and no longer issued or allowed to be worn).

The Transportation bar at the top of the medal ribbon would have originally been a "Slide On" device and not sewn in place.  There also appears to be a professionally drilled hole on the middle, bottom edge, of the bar, with a small suspension ring.  This hole was added later, after the Victory Medal was awarded.

The Transportation bar was added to the WW1 Victory Medal for veterans who served on board transportation or cargo ships, and made at least one trip across the Atlantic, between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 1918.

Now, here is my version of the medal's story, as told by my research and clues.  Mind you, it is only a "best guess and explanation" based on the medal itself, and my research, but I feel it is probably correct.

 The original veteran was a long-time member of the New York State Naval Militia at the time WW1 broke out.  When the US went to war, the NY Naval Militia members were transferred to the US Navy.  This veteran then served his time aboard a US Navy ship and after the war was over, he was awarded the US WW1 Victory Medal with Transportation Bar for his service in the Atlantic.  At some point after the war, he was awarded the New York State Militia Long and Faithful Service Medal and ribbon, with the associated year charm.  It was normal for WW1 veterans to wear their medals to civic events, on formal occasions, parades, etc., after they left military service.  It is my guess that the veteran had the jeweler in Duluth, Minnesota, combine his two medals into one WW1 service medal. 
The Jeweler used the neck ribbon from the New York Militia medal, the medal from the WW1 Victory Medal, and the Transportation slide from the Victory Medal as well.  The Transportation bar was drilled and the "year charm" from the Militia Medal was then suspended from it.  The Transportation bar was then sewn in place at the top of the newly created medal.
In the years since the "New Medal" was created, the charm was lost, but the suspension ring and bar with hole remained.

The back side of the medal is quite worn and polished on the high points, lending credence to the story that the veteran wore this medal regularly after the war.  Since the medal was such a treasured item, it was preserved in the box that the jeweler had provided with it, all of these years.

I wish I knew the actual veteran's name and his individual story, but at least we have this amazing little medal and the story it suggests.

Here is the medal (or medals?).  Enjoy.