1874 Clothing Bag- Indian Wars Service With A History!

Great ’74 clothing bag with history; a soldier in two regiments, under his name and alias.

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This 1874 clothing bag was designed to accompany the Palmer Brace System, or used separately. The bag has the period ink identification to “H.M. Burks”, alais Charles B. Fair, who used this piece of equipment while serving in the 6th U.S. Infantry.

Here in Burks’ / Fair’s own words is the most interesting story associated with this item.  In a Deposition taken on June 12, 1908, for the Bureau of Pensions, Byron C. Fair submits the following (condensed);  “Jackson, Jackson Co., Ohio.  I am a Machinist and am the identical Byron C. Fair who served as a private in Cos. I and D, U.S. Inf. Regular Establishment, under the name of Harry M. Burks, and I also served in Troop M., 2nd U.S. Cav.  In my last service I served in my own proper name Byron C. Fair…..I am the claimant in this case and I claim a pension on account of piles, a disability contracted in the service and line of duty while serving as a member of said Co. I. 6 U.S. Inf. and while on detail on extra duty as engineer at Fort Leavenworth, Kans……. I was born in Dayton, Montgomery Co., Ohio on August 26, 1858….enlisted when I was 17  year of age……


I enlisted at Cincinnati, Ohio on Nov. 20, 1876. I enlisted under the name Byron C. Fair…and was discharged Aug 1877.  I did not contract or incur any sickness, disease or disability during my first said service. John Mix was Capt of my said Co. M. 2nd U.S. Cav. Lapoint was second lieut. of the troop and the first lieut. was on leave all the time I was with said organization.


I enlisted at Indianapolis, Ind. on March 12, 1881……..I was then assigned to Co. D. 6 U.S. Inf., William M Wherry was Captain of my said company. Wetherell was first lieut and he was killed at the battle of Sanjuan Hill, War with Spain. R.B. Turner was second lieut. (here he mentions several names of men in the company; sgt. bunk mates etc.).  From Columbus, Ohio I went to Cantonment of Uncompahgre in Colorado where I joined said 6th Regiment. We stayed there about three months and then we exchanged stations with the 14th U.S. Inf. and went to Fort Duschene, Utah. We stayed there about one year. I then applied for a leave of absence and it was refused me and I went home without leave on account of the death of my sister…..I remained in Dayton 3 years and then I went back entirely on my own free will and was tried for desertion, was found guilty, but Gen. O.O. Howard interceded for me and I was restored to my Co.D, 6th Inf. In about three months after this I was transferred to Co. I…..I went with the regiment to Fort Leavenworth, Kans. where I remained until I was honorably discharged at the end of my term of enlistment.


I was detailed in the Quartermaster’s Department…. This was 1886… I had charge of the sawmill an also the stone Crusher and had to do all my own repairs, and there was necessarily a great deal of heavy lifting. While working on this detail I contracted piles….(long description, bleeding, treatment, people aware of the condition, etc.). Fair continues with far more details concerning the piles, and states what he had been doing since his discharge from service.

The file from the National Archives is quite lengthy, with enlistment documents, War Dept. document on service, Pension records, copies of him in field blouse, and civilian image, that must have been submitted for his file.

In the file is a copy of a letter sent to his brother from Fort Douglas, U.T., Dec. 25th, ’85. “At the present time I am a member of the Guard, and am not suffered to change clothes or take off my belts that has my ammunition this of course is a very strict order and is from 9am this date to 9am tomorrow. we have 15 prisoners in the guard house and for Christmas shurly the dullest I have seen for a long time. some of the drunken soldiers you can see no evidence of its being a hollowday…….We have exciting times….one of the big guns of the Mormon Church is hauled up for Conspiracy and the chances are that he will get about five years for his little game. (this turns into a lengthy story about the goings one in Salt Lake City). He concludes, After the fifth of January I will send you the paper for a month and i want you to let Father and Mother and Alice see them as I first want to show how hostile and treacherous are these lying low degraded beasts in human form. there is thirty thousand in this City of that number only five thousand are Gentiles and if it were not for the ten companies and one Battery of Artillery that is here the non human people of this City would not hold out long.” 

About his captain he continues,  “…my Captain is one of those old fogies that has been on Scofields Staff for 20 years, and has not the lease idea of how to manage a company, he is strict and unjust in many things being on the Staff and never with his company he is ignorant about drill and I dare say cannot drill a squad.”

The several affidavits mention details about his companies, officers, sergeants, bunk mates, and other eyewitnesses about his service and the connected disability.

Did I mention I had his clothing bag?

The ’74 Clothing Bag, is the Type 2 pattern, and exhibits a natural colored canvas bag with a flap made of the lead-colored duck. Like the Type 1, the bag has all leather chapes, and leather trim entirely sewn around the main bag. There is a small pocket on the bag that is approximately 5 x 6 plus inches, and has a leather strap used to secure the contents; either spare ammunition, or other smaller gear, etc. Originally, a small General Service pattern eagle button was used to hold the strap in place, but was replaced with a tin button with stud. This was no doubt an arsenal replacement, and while in their hands, the “U.S.” stencil on the flap, had faded, and was redone at at time as well.  This arsenal work was done mostly likely prior to 1881, as it was reissued to “Burks” when he enlisted in the 6th Infantry in 1881.  Attached is a Chamber sling, used when not on the brace system, which had already been discontinued at this time.

There are the signs of the acid in the leather staining the canvas, as this bag was discovered in a large pile of surplus bags and haversacks. And again, “H. M. Burks” is boldly written on the back of the bag.

It is truly amazing what history can be found today on virtually everything!

Additional information

Weight 2 lbs