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British Soldier’s Boxes During the War of 1812
by Robert Henderson

          The British Army was encumbered with numerous bags, crates and boxes. Each company alone had arms chests, mess chests, ammunition chests, and so on. Considering this, great pains were made to limit personal baggage of the common soldier. Only married people or sergeant’s with specific responsibilities were permitted boxes for their belongings.

          Each married person in the 41st Regiment were permitted to have a "box each three foot long by eighteen inches wide with the name of their husbands in full letters on the cover or side." The same size of box was allowed for the pay sergeants of each company. It is quite likely the boxes were also marked with the letter of the company and/or the regiment. Other individual boxes that may have appeared in the barracks included those belonging the master tailor, drum major, school master, sergeant armourer, and master shoemaker. The intended use of the boxes varied from individual to individual. Married peoples boxes were intended for the excess baggage caused by the clothes of the soldier's wife. Company pay, mess and order books, and a manual of platoon exercises, would have under lock and key in the pay sergeant's box, along with writing impediments and personal effects. John Shipp, while serving as a drummer in the 22nd Regiment, recounted how the drum major used his box to lock away Shipp's civilian clothes after he enlistment. The tradesmen boxes would have contained tools of their trade and the account books listing the work that had been done and by whom. In addition, one former tailor master of the 89th Regiment had in his trunk which was stolen from Fort York in 1815:

several articles of wearing apparel etc... a superfine blue cloth coat, new, two white vests, one having 3 rows of buttons, and one kerseymere vest partly made, several shirts and pairs of stockings, a dressing case and 3 pairs of razors, having white handles, a gold watch-chain; seal and key, an opera glass, a variety of books, among which are Goldsmith's Rome, Homer's Illead and Odessey, Milton's Paradise Lost, Thompson's Seasons, Gray's Poetical Works, Burn's Poems, Elegant Extracts, several Books of Plays, etc.

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