Bone tie slide set over a period print entitled
Camp Leavitt [Virginia]
Winter Quarters of the 16th Maine Regiment, March 18, 1865.
Pvt. Patten’s handiwork is representative of classic Civil War winter camp soldier folk art fostered by long hours of inactivity when entire regiments were holed up for the winter months. During this mostly idle time soldiers fashioned all manner of personal items and trinkets to send home or trade. Beef bone was a readily available medium which was carved and frequently incised with decorative inlay of colored sealing wax. Beef bone as a raw material was augmented by the use of wood to include the dense native laurel root, peach pits, silver from coins or a spoon flattened to provide a thin flat sheet.
A collage of soldier made bone folk art includes a pair of decorated finger rings with a period tag identifying the relics as having been fashioned by “an occupant of the Famous A-ville [Andersonville] Prison Pen 1864”.
This miniature carpenter chest with tools of carved bone was done by John W. Thompson who was an eighteen year old resident of Hartford, Maine when in the summer of 1861 he enlisted as a musician in the 5th Maine Infantry Regimental Band. Discharged a bit over a year later, Thompson re-enlisted in the spring of 1864 as a Private of Co H, 32nd Maine infantry. He transferred to H Co. 31st Maine in December 1864 and was discharged in August 1865.