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Mess Tin
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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:06 am    Post subject: Mess Tin  Reply with quote

I thought it might be fun to have a look at this again, especially because Robert is here and might have some more arcane stuff from a North American perspective.  Heres the state of play:
We have some pretty good information concerning the 95th and individual issue mess tins, showing that these were in use  by the 95th, among others, prior to the (Peninsula) army-wide adoption noted in 1812. There has been some discussion about size and shape, and most of the 2/95th now carry either a Mcfarthingbowl/Anastasio/Discriminating General tin, which are all of a similar size and shape. Frank Packer speculated that the tins might derive from those used by the Hannoverians, which are substantially larger. We know that the McFarthingbowl tin is drawn from the Pierre Turner speculative early tin, and that the Anastasio tin is drawn from an (unseen by us) early tin. Robert, if you will excuse me picking your brains, do you know what information the DG tin was based on?
With two campaign events in two weeks, and twelve of us living, eating and drinking out of our tins, it should be interesting to see what issues are thrown up..
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Robert
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ben,

Sorry I have been running around a lot over the past couple of weeks.  Our mess tin (sadly it has been sold out for almost a year) is based on a half dozen crushed ones found at Fort Malden (Amherstburg) - pre- 1838.  The originals were covered with graffetti (an original 1839-40 mess tin cover was found on the Rideau Canal with BO arrow - it is after the army blackened/waterproofed the covers in 1838).  Very cool.  Their use is of course based primarily on that oil painting of the two guardsmen in 1815.   That said, I don't like this tin earlier than maybe 1814.  The tin on the back of the 6th Private is the best.  One soldier in the peninsula in 1811 got hit in the back with a spent round of artillery shot which drove his dish mess tin down slicing off his buttocks... OUCH.  

You know how you see side straps showing up on knapsacks (carefully avoiding the topic of knapsack configurations for now).  I have two theories.  This is the dish mess tin pattern underneath the flap of the knapsack, or the use of a great coat strap to compress the belongings in the pack.  My friend Peter (an engineer) and I are working on the 1804 Knapsack and are piecing it together 'sans bois'.   I am tired of seeing mutations of the 1824 pattern being back dated.  But that is a completely different discussion.

Sorry I have to run.  Ben I hope this helps.

Robert
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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, heres a bit more on the mess tin. I was aware of references to various issues of individual mess tins to the British Army, prior to the Peninsular issue of 1812/13, but the first official hint of a 95th mess tin came from a BGO/clothing report of 21st February 1810. (I'm using mess tin here to refer to an individual's tin or tins, and campkettle to refer to communal or mess cooking equipment, this is my terminology, period terminology may differ- thats another discussion.)
The BGO snippet says,


Some thoughts on the Board of General Officers  gen on 95th personal issue small camp kettles:
The Board sat on the 21st February 1810, so the item was in use before then.
Described as, "a small camp kettle to be carried by each soldier".

They wonder whether it might be enlarged to carry provisions as a replacement for the haversack.

The provisions they wish it to be enlarged to carry, are: Two days bread and meat, so we know the one carried by the 95th in 1810 was too small to carry two days rations of bread and meat.

The soldier's daily ration varied depending on the season, the distance from base, the local resources, and the transport available to the commissariat and so on. However, for our purposes, the usual daily issue was supposed to be 1lb of meat, 1.5lb of bread, or 1lb of biscuit, plus booze (what do they carry the booze in, if the waterbarrel is full of water?)

So, next step was to make 2lb biscuit and 2lb raw or cooked beef on the bone, and see if it fitted in the d-tins we are using. If it did, they were too big (although maybe correct for the 1813?) However, they are definitely too small, although you can sort of almost cram it in, if you discard the interior tray and mash it all up, but I'm not convinced thats very helpful.
A similar conclusion may have been reached by the BGO, because on 29th June 1811,
From the Board of General Officers Report, 29th June 1811:

'The Board are aware, that a Tin Kettle was proposed as a substitute for the Haversack, by the Board of which Lieutenant General Ross was President; but having examined the same, they consider it to be too heavy, consistently with the intended reduction in the weight the Soldier ought to carry.'  
The same board notes that the haversack ought to be large enough to carry provisions for three days, so possibly the substitute kettle was expected to accomodate even more than the two days worth mentioned by the 1810 board. (Thanks to FP for this)

I'll take a breather here, before moving on to the sort of mess tins they might be talking about.
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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting observation by Costello. Quite early in the campaign (Santarem) he describes the all to frequent experience of being rushed forward on the back of cavalry horses to catch up with the French rearguard. In this instance he is trying to catch the rear guard at Pombal;

"...my company had been hurried forward by the cavalry, each dragoon mounting a rifleman behind him on his horse...this method of riding was generally attended by the loss, of the men's mess-tins, which became shaken off by the jolting..."

Rifleman Costello of the 95th,
Edward Costello, Leonaur 2005, p73

Perhaps this suggests that the mess-tins were originally distributed without the cover? We also have something from Knight who bemoans having to clean up his blackened tin for parades;

[we]..."were billeted on people who disliked us, and did every thing they could to make us uncomfortable, refusing us pans and other things to cook with, and by obliging us to use our canteens (mess tins), gave us a pretty bit of work to make them look smart for field days".

The Remininscences of Thomas Knight of the 95th
, Leonaur 2007, p.25
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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, one of the great things about this BGO snippet is that it allows us to reassess some of the accounts in memoirs. Previously the very early mention of mess tins in Harris and Costello had been viewed as problematic, and perhaps dismissed as 'mis-remembering' or put down to a confusion in terminology between mess tins, camp (mess) kettles/ canteens etc etc. Of course, both Harris and Costello are writing after the event, in Harris' case at least, through a ghost writer (who although very able, has not left a list of his criteria for accuracy). So assuming that the memorialists knew what they were talking about, and that we are the poorly informed lummoxes (again!) and setting aside for a minute the question of whether the term 'mess tin' was in use, c.1808, what does another look at those cryptic Costello and Harris sources tell us?
Benjamin Harris, 2/95th, early August 1808, near Obidos.
""The weight I myself toiled under was tremendous, and I often wonder at the strength I possessed that enabled me to endure it. Being a handicraft, I marched under a weight sufficient to impede the movements of a donkey, for besides my well-filled kit (knapsack) there was a greatcoat rolled on its top, my blankets and campkettle, my haversack stuffed fullof leather for repairing the men's shoes, a hammer and other tools- the lapstone I took the liberty of flinging to the devil- and ship-biscuit and beef for three days. I also carried my canteen filled with water, my hatchet and rifle, and a pouch containing eighty rounds of ball cartridge".

p.36 The Recollections of Benjamin Harris, ed. Hathaway, Shinglepicker, 1995

Costello on mess tins, July 1809, Portugal.

"Knapsack and straps, two shirts, two pairs of stockings, one pair of shoes, dittp soles and heels, three brushes, box of blacking, razor, soap-box and strap, and also at the time an extra pair of trousers; a mess-tin, centre-tin and lid, haversack and canteen, greatcoat and blanket, a powder-flask filled, a ball-bag containing thirty loose balls, a small wooden mallet used to hammer the ball into the muzzle of our rifles; belt and pouch, the latter containing fifty rounds of ammunition, sword belt and rifle, besides other odds and ends that at all times are required for a service soldier. Each squad had also to carry four bill-hooks that weighed six pounds each, so that every other day, each man had to carry it; thus we were equipped with from 70 to 80 pounds weight.."

p.176 The Recollections of Benjamin Harris, ed. Hathaway, Shinglepicker, 1995

Looking through the archive, I see these are only the two earliest references to the tin in the 95th. More to come shortly.
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Gareth Newfield
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have just been talking with Robert concerning the new pack and its associated bits and bobs... including mess tins, and perspectives from North America thereon.

The messing regulations for the 49th Foot (c. 1806) state:  "Each man is proved with a Plate, Knife, Fork and Spoon and a Tin Kettle in which his Dinner is conveyed to him when on Guard."  (Library and Archives Canada, RG 8 I, Vol. 1213, p. 181).

According to Robert, who has examined the paybooks for the 49th, the "Tin Kettles" were purchased at the regimental level to make up for a deficiency of cookware and tableware in barracks, which were not supplied by the Barrack Department in Canada.  

So clearly each individual soldier possessed some manner of enclosed tin vessel, although it fails to elaborate upon the design or size.  

Tuppence.
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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats a very early one Gareth. Interesting that it was a purchase at regimental level, much as the BGO snippet above hints that the 95th tins were. Heres another, though not so early,
NLS Acc 9074 38, vol ii (vol i missing?) assorted General Orders 1808-14,
159 HQ Messina, 16th March, 1808, General Orders..

no.3 "The tins used used by the soldiers for eating their messes are to be considered as forming a part of the Light Service equipment ordered on the 14th Sept last."
Campbell, Adjt General.
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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robert wrote:
..."With this find, I would take the D tins and pitch it out of the Napoleonic period and into the 1820s (along with the Jones Painting)...."
Robert


As with Robert, I could see this round tin being the stage in the evolution chain to the D-tin. I could imagine them vying for a place on top of pack with the roll - and someone coming up with the bright idea of flattening one side to get them to make room or sit better on top.

As for date?..

Following quote from Vol 1 of the Peninsular Journal of Charles Crowe
"The cumbersome old camp kettles had long since been given over to the Commisary of Stores, and smaller ones were delivered out adapted for six men each to be carried day about for each man of the mess on top of his knapsack. But this plan soon proved abortive, for in the first skirmish more than half were rendered useless, being perforated by musket balls, and were thrown away. Afterwards each man was supplied with a small half-round kettle, barely large enough for boiling the pounds of meat, when it was required tio distribute three days rations at once. These small kettles rode behind the knapsack and were seldom injured. a strap passed over the lid, so that the soldier could carry his cooked rations securely, and free from dust and flies. This was an admirable arrangement, for every man would take his own kettle, which made him independent whether on guard, or picquet , or detachment."

http://www.jjhc.info/crowecharles1855journal.htm

Occupation print



Is this another one?

Detail from Le Soir.
Infantry and Highlanders encamped by river. Coloured aquatint by Lambert after Malbranche, published by Basset, C1815
©National Army Museum
Acc No. NAM 7604-32 (Press 27-M-34)
 

Is this our circular tin?

Detail from The Deserter Apprehended, 1815 (c).
Oil on canvas by Robert Smirke (1753-1845), 1815 (c)
Courtesy of the Council of the National Army Museum, London


Last edited by Paul Durrant on Sat Oct 29, 2016 6:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"top of his knapsack"
Paul, does the top of the knapsack refer to the level edge, or to the back face of the pack?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



A few years after 1815. I added to show mess tin on the backpack but picture also shows back view of braces, bell tents , bugle and various other points of interest.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Durrant wrote:

Following quote from Vol 1 of the Peninsular Journal of Charles Crowe
"The cumbersome old camp kettles had long since been given over to the Commisary of Stores, and smaller ones were delivered out adapted for six men each to be carried day about for each man of the mess on top of his knapsack. But this plan soon proved abortive, for in the first skirmish more than half were rendered useless, being perforated by musket balls, and were thrown away. Afterwards each man was supplied with a small half-round kettle, barely large enough for boiling the pounds of meat, when it was required tio distribute three days rations at once. These small kettles rode behind the knapsack and were seldom injured. a strap passed over the lid, so that the soldier could carry his cooked rations securely, and free from dust and flies. This was an admirable arrangement, for every man would take his own kettle, which made him independent whether on guard, or picquet , or detachment."

http://www.jjhc.info/crowecharles1855journal.htm


Looking back at my previous thread (above), I noticed that Crowe describes the mess tin as being carried by "...a strap passed over the lid..." Is it possible that these mess-tins were originally distributed without the covers?

Costello has this to say, quite early in the campaign (Santarem). In this instance he is trying to catch the rear guard at Pombal;

"...my company had been hurried forward by the cavalry, each dragoon mounting a rifleman behind him on his horse...this method of riding was generally attended by the loss, of the men's mess-tins, which became shaken off by the jolting..."
                                      Rifleman Costello of the 95th,
Edward Costello, Leonaur 2005, p73

We also have something from Knight who bemoans having to clean up his blackened tin for parades;

[we]..."were billeted on people who disliked us, and did every thing they could to make us uncomfortable, refusing us pans and other things to cook with, and by obliging us to use our canteens (mess tins), gave us a pretty bit of work to make them look smart for field days".

The Remininscences of Thomas Knight of the 95th,
Leonaur 2007, p.25
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just acquired one of these (it was cheap q3 ) and Mrs W is making a linen cover based on the patterns in Turner. Is there however any evidence for use of covers at all in our period? Had a look at period prints on SK Brown last night and could only see what I would interpret at 'naked' tins on knapsacks. Presumably somewhere there are contracts for supply of mess tins to the army?
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Eddie
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a disconcerting fellow you are Waller!  But I have to agree - the only image I can find with a definite cover is this one



On the members reference forum there is an 1817 mention of mess tins and covers.

Hamilton Smith shows several dish type mess tins all without covers but presumably the straps passed through handles at each edge?

Is this one in a cover?


In practical terms how would the D style tin stay on a pack without a cover?  A flange soldered on it for a strap to pass through ?

Here the Genty 3rd Gds - I have a colour version on a Cd but can't get it to download - but the artist depicts a definite shine on the mess tin indicating its not covered.



And of course the tin from the "Thatcher "knapsack :

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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From PD on the research archive,

Is it possible the mess-tins were originally distributed without the covers?

Costello: Quite early in the campaign (Santarem). In this instance he is trying to catch the rear guard at Pombal;

"...my company had been hurried forward by the cavalry, each dragoon mounting a rifleman behind him on his horse...this method of riding was generally attended by the loss, of the men's mess-tins, which became shaken off by the jolting..."

Rifleman Costello of the 95th, Edward Costello, Leonaur 2005, p73

We also have something from Knight who bemoans having to clean up his blackened tin for parades;

[we]..."were billeted on people who disliked us, and did every thing they could to make us uncomfortable, refusing us pans and other things to cook with, and by obliging us to use our canteens (mess tins), gave us a pretty bit of work to make them look smart for field days".

The Remininscences of Thomas Knight of the 95th, Leonaur 2007, p.25


I would suggest that the tin kettle from the Thatcher pack is just that, a tin mess kettle and not a mess tin.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whilst prisoners at Mote Video, 1807

"During the search, one soldier, who had a good many doubloons, put them into his camp-kettle, with flesh water above them; placed all upon a fire, and kept them safe."

Journal Of A Soldier Of The 71st Regiment From 1806 to 1815" by Anon - "Thomas", Pickle Partners Publishing 2011 (electronic)

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