Non-Edible Haversack Stuffers
By Ron Myers
Carl Stang of the 1st US wrote an article for our recruiting manual about “Haversack Stuffers” or things he put in his haversack for reenactments that weren’t food. Now many say the haversack is just for rations; many of us see more can be put in the “Old Bag” than just vittles. Carl can just about fit his whole kit into his haversack! While not a proponent of this method, I did get a few hints from him that over the last year and a half I’ve refined down to what works well for me.
First off all your rations can go in the bag. If you are in a mess or group who doles out the whole lot at the beginning of the weekend the rest of this article will just be comedy for ya! Three days worth of food is what the army gave its soldiers to put in the haversack and probably not much else could fit in it except a tin cup and plate and/or canteen half. The 1st US usually feeds the whole unit and gives out rations for haversack usage for a meal or two. This works well for us as 1) We eat great and 2) This leaves room in the ol’ sack for other items!
Along with my food I will carry the above-mentioned tin cup and plate. Naturally a spoon, fork, and knife are needed. Most sutlers offer a nice period-correct spoon-knife-fork combo that works great! You get a pocket knife, spoon and fork all in one. That always goes in the bag.
For those of us who suffer from overactive histamine and other ailments a poke sack holding medications is a must. Period poke sacks should be required for every new recruit! Their uses are myriad and they hide modern anachronisms. Easy to make and invaluable in use! I have an article on how to make them that unfortunately can no longer be found on-line. If interested contact me and I’ll get you the article. Or just buy them on-line or through Gay Frazer! The last thing that goes in this poke sack is ear-plugs, be they cotton, flesh-toned, or white.
Next goes my car keys, driver’s license, medical insurance card, and cash in another poke sack. This is to keep on hand for you-never-know what will happen.
Every Civil War reenactor should have a housewife, and mine goes in the haversack. Not your wife, your sewing kit! Plenty of needles, two colors of thread, period fold-up scissors, and extra Eagle, bone, and paper-backed tin buttons go inside the housewife. I’m thankful this was in my bag last November in Bentonville, as two buttons popped at the same time! (Guess Don’s cooking was really terrific that weekend.) Nothing like sewing your pants together at night, in the cold, with a candle to light the way. But at least I was able to fix them.
The next poke sack is filled with my small in-the-field gun cleaning kit. This contains a nipple wrench, nipple picks, small tin can of oil (Jarnigan has one that’s the perfect size!) small piece of steel wool, small rag, extra gun nipples, and pipe cleaners. I made a leather poke sack bag originally intended for my pipe and tobacco which I now use for the cleaning kit. The leather stands up better to the contents of the cleaning kit.
Another poke sack contains period soap in a wash cloth along with period toothpaste and toothbrush. Feel much better every morn after a quick face wash and tooth wash!
Finally, I took Carl’s advice to heart and put half a roll of toilet paper in my last poke sack. Never know when the porta-potty will be out of paper or you are out in the middle of nowhere when Mother Nature calls.
Again some will argue the haversack was made for rations and they are correct, but many other things can be put in the old sack along with chow unless you have a runny slab of bacon in there! If you do it should be in some good period brown paper that will prevent it from ruining your $40 haversack! And that leaves room for the extras. . .