This Confederate used cartridge box is of English manufacture and still contains remnants of hand-rolled paper pistol cartridges (see: Osprey Publishing’s The Army of Northern Virginia). A penned notation under flap tells us this trophy was acquired by Capt. Randall, Co. I 13th Me. Isaiah Randall of Portland, Maine joined the 13th Maine Infantry Regiment as 1st Lt. Co. I on December 12, 1861. Promoted to Captain in 1862 Randall would remain with the 13th Maine Volunteers until mustering out on New Years Day 1865
Capt. Isaiah Randall’s signed
image by period New Orleans
photographer, Bernard Moses.
The above deep South captured canteen offers a period ink inscription Asa Smith Co. D 26th Asa F. Smith of Monroe, Maine served with the 26th Maine at Irish Bend La. where the Regiment lost sixty-eight men of three hundred engaged and at Port Hudson. Like many Downeasters, members of the 26th suffered as severely from the Southern climate and disease for which the Easterners had no immunity, as they did from the lethal efforts of Confederate forces. The mortality of this nine month Regiment was about two hundred from all causes.
Just how this gold crescent badge emanated from Louisiana and ended up in Maine attic storage, tucked away in a Civil War vintage pasteboard box, has been lost in time. Nestled in with a period Union cavalry button, remnants of a GAR membership medal and other trinkets, the origin of the inscribed badge as period New Orleans, Louisiana was a solid assumption based simply on its crescent shape, pin design and some knowledge of the Crescent City’s military. The finely engraved motto, Vestigia nulla Retrorsum, (Never retreat. or Never step back.) is augmented by the name, E’Florine Casten, inscribed on the back. While we found a Casten in a New Orleans militia outfit the given name did not match and none of the several Castens recorded among period New Orleans residents offered a match? Did failure to uncover a solid match simply reflect the typical wanting of period record keeping in the melting pot which was antebellum New Orleans, or did it mean that our initial conclusion that the Never retreat crescent was of N. O. military origin?
Deserving of a place in our accumulation of Maine veteran’s, Southern keepsakes, we set the little grouping in a display case and moved on to the next project resigned that short of seeing another with a tangible Louisiana origin, we’d have to be satisfied with our assumption. An educated assumption, but an assumption all the same. We wished we had more.
North South Trader’s Civil War 1998 Christmas issue (Vol. XXV #5 p. 18) filled the void as we spotted a photograph of a Never retreat crescent badge just like ours! Thanks to the always exceptional effort of our friends at the Trader and the willingness of a fellow historian to share, we read the short account of recovery of a mate to our gold crescent from a Louisiana campsite in Dalton, Georgia.