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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:16 pm    Post subject: Boots  Reply with quote

Marc Kingdom's Brunel's boots - No idea what they were like. I'm very curious as to what the great engineer came up with. According to Ian Fletcher's Wellington's Army (Brassey), He reckons Marc witnessed the soldiers' sad return from Corunna, shocked by the conditions of their feet he investigated, discovered the clay layer between the soles and being the inventor he was, got to work designing. Fletcher adds it was another three years before the army ordered - and they would have been appearing with the troops towards the latter days of the Peninsula, but reckons by Waterloo campaign, they would have all been wearing them.

Who the hell came up with clay layers between the inner & outer soles? What on earth was that all about??


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Rifleman Moore (Deceased)
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some contractors also used lead for a between soles liner ... bit grim, ain't it ?
I suggest you ask Sarah B Juniper - she being the fount of all knowledge when it comes to period footwear ( telephone her on 01453 545 675).
I telephoned her last night - some photos are unfortunately missing from my file but we will attempt to reconstruct my notes on 95th Rifles footwear (including Brunel's contribution - his 1810 machines were knocking out an average of 400 complete hob-nailed boots a day by 1812) and duly send ...
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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the Hamilton-Smith print of the Sergeant & Private 1st Foot Guards, 1812 you can see the underside of their boots with the steel/iron heel 'horseshoe' and hobnails.  Fletcher adds before then the army had resorted to several different alternatives - but it would be nice to think these were Brunel's only becaus they look a bit like ours).

Any idea when did the 'straight-lasting' feature come to an end?
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Rifleman Moore (Deceased)
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heel-plates pre-date 1812 (they recovered in Rev War archaeology in the 60's which later led to their supposition that a soldier alternating the shoe each day was a tradition founded on myth) but the cast-iron heel-plates are probably early 19th Century (and they ain't a lot different from the one's offered by present-day army surplus dealers). There's more about this in me notes.

A copy of the same Hamilton-Smith plate you give is included in my notes : heel-plates yes, clearly depicted - can't hand on heart say they are wearing hobnails ...

Army contractors were given a basic pattern from the BO or the Adjutant-General : as long as the samples sent or chosen looked pretty similar and the consignment was to the amount to be supplied as specified, the contract was deemed fulfilled - but - Rifleman Harris (who a vested interest in the subject) along with some others note that soles were sometimes fraudulently glued on rather than stitched by some unscrupulous contractors and duly dropped off and the shoe fell to pieces in wet weather ...

You will appreciate that The Industrial Revolution saw machines and the factory-system (as we know it) taking over from almost all crafts, including sewing shoes. Brunel's factory only went bankrupt because the financial investment in the factory was based on Government contracts which were all cancelled after June 1815 ... Waterloo ushered in Le Grande Paix and massive army and navy cut-backs. 'Straight-lasting' hasn't come to an end yet - they are still at it all over the world but I'm not an authority on this - ask Sarah, who is. I believe the designer of a powerful belt-driven 'metal-punching machine' in the US later called the 'Blake-Stitch' bought and developed the Great Britain patent just after The Great Exhibition of 1851 and after due conversion was knocking out machine-stitched shoes by 1859 and later made pairs of shoes in right and left feet : the machine made a fortune from Federal contracts during the US war of 1861-1865 ... I recall seeing somewhere on my travels an early sewing-machine used for shoe-stitching (possibly in The Museum of The Black Country) ... but can't rely on my memory.

I regret that I'm not able at present to attach illustrations onto replies - but Obadiah has since kindly offered to advise me on how to do so. I could always send you my notes by 'private e-mail' if period footwear is a subject dear to your heart ( ... or the soles of your feet)

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Paul Durrant
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hobnails or not hobnails? Hand on heart I'd probably have to agree. Mind you, in poor light after a few glasses of wine... and really squint...

Naaa, probably just brush strokes...then again...(hic)
(Just resending Mr Moore's piccy but a bit larger. Don't know if you can make anything out)
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Rifleman Moore (Deceased)
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The original is in colour but again, not much help. There are some period Pyne, Rowlandson and Gillray prints that show or hint at hobnailed boots : I wouldn't worry about it.
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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Image from Marc Isambard Brunel's patent of 1810 for 'Certain machinery for the Purpose of Making or Manufacturing Shoes and Boots'. It clearly shows that straightlasted boots of pegged sole construction were to be produced.

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khazzard2000
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After to brisk visit to the Northampton Museum, which has over 12,000 shoes apparently, i can provide these piccies of vaguely related footwear. The lovely lady with the key to all the shoes in store is more than happy to dig out what they have in storage, which will hopefully be a few boots or shoes from our period.

This looks like a dainty officers number for prancing about in to me



These two are of a pair of Blucher boots


Hope that' some use.
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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Concerning Marc Isambard Brunel's shoe and boot factory. According to the latest biography (secondary source alert!) the factory was operating from 1813 or 1814 and by 1815 Brunel had cornered the market in supplying the army.
"Since the products of the factory proved to be all that was claimed, the government issued a large order which was completed in the stipulated time and resulted in the troops being properly equipped for the Battle of Waterloo".
pp.44-5, The Greater Genius, A biog. of Marc Isambard Brunel, Harold Bagust, Ian Allen publishing, 2006
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havercakelad
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I have often been in cellars & what wine we could not drink & carry away they would break in the head of a cask & let it run about, I  was often over my half boots in wine."
Rifleman John Lewis , 2nd btn, referring to occupation of France after Waterloo.
p161
The Waterloo Archive Vol 1: British Sources, Ed Gareth Glover


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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WO4/452, 189
"                                                 21st November 1815
Sir,
In reference to Mr Barkers (?) letter of the 7th instant, to Mr Harrison of the Treasury, I am dir by the S. at W. that you will transmit a list of the British regiments engaged at the Battle of Waterloo, to which the shoes, manufactured by Mr Brunel have been delivered, in order that the Commanding Officers may be called upon to report, as to their quality after they have been in wear a certain time.
I am etc, Murray (?)
(To) The Store keeper General."


This seems to refer to a gratuitous issue of Brunel's boots after Waterloo to involved units. See next posts.
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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gratuity of 'strong military shoes' to each soldier engaged in the Battle of Waterloo, and subsequent march to Paris, Secretary of War Palmerston to treasury.
WO4/427, 372


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Ben Townsend
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brunel's shoes in 1815 again.
WO4/427, 363-4

"Immediate                                                          26th July 1815

Sir,
I am to desire that you will be pleased to acquaint the Lds Commrs of H M T, (Lords commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury?) that hRH the C in C and myself have inspected Mr Brunel's maufactory of shoes at Chelsea; that we strongly recommend to their Ldps (lordships) the expediency of encouraging Mr Brunel by directing the Commissary in Chief to make purchase of military shoes at the manufactory: his shoes having appeared to HRH and to myself, to be so good in regard both to the quality of the Material, and the mode of putting them together, that they seem likely to be a significant improvement in the Equipment of a soldier, and as the price of them (6/6d per pr if plugged with horn and 6- without the horn) is less than that which is charged by other manufacturers of Shoes, they appear to combine the advantage of oeconomy with that of utility.
I take this opportunity of submitting to their Ldps a proposition in which the C in C and myself anticipate their entire concurrance, namely that each British Soldier who fought in the Battle of Waterloo, and subsequently performed the rapid march to Paris, shall be furnished gratuitously with one strong pair of military shoes each; and as I find that there are about 30,000 pairs of Shoes of Mr Brunel's manufacture in the stores of the Storekeeper General, I would recommend that these articles form a part of the supply.
The total number of shoes required would be about 45,000 pairs.
Should their Ldsps concur in this recommendation they will be pleased to give the proper directions to the Commisary in Chief and to the Storekeeper general for immediately forwarding the articles to the Commisariat under (illeg) the D. of Wellington: and I request to be favoured with their Ldsps early decision in order that I may make such communication to His Grace as may appear to be proper.
I am etc Palmerston,
(to)
Geo Harrison Esq, Treasury.
"
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Radford
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:53 pm    Post subject: Hobnails or not Hobnails? That is the question... Reply with quote

Rifleman Moore (Deceased) wrote:
Heel-plates pre-date 1812 (they recovered in Rev War archaeology in the 60's which later led to their supposition that a soldier alternating the shoe each day was a tradition founded on myth) but the cast-iron heel-plates are probably early 19th Century (and they ain't a lot different from the one's offered by present-day army surplus dealers). There's more about this in me notes.

A copy of the same Hamilton-Smith plate you give is included in my notes : heel-plates yes, clearly depicted - can't hand on heart say they are wearing hobnails ...




FWIW, the idea that straight last shoes be switched on alternate days is a suggestion from Cuthbertson's 1768 edition of A System for the Compleat Interior Management & Economy of a Battalion of Infantry;

"It should be particularly observed, that the men do not always wear their shoes on the same feet, but that they change them day about, to prevent their running crooked;"

The 'myth' part of it is that the archaeology doesn't support the notion. Extant original straight last shoes show a left or right wear pattern. Cuthbertson also observed;

"The best shoes will be always found the cheapest, and it will be necessary to strengthen their heels, with some small nails:"

And:

"besides two pair of shoes, a soldier should have a pair of soles and heels in his Knapsack, by which means, he can never be distressed, should his shoes want mending on a march, as a shoemaker of the Company can always do them, and that with seasoned leather, which might not be the case, was he to take the immediate chance of the country for it."

As much as I love my hobnails, there is a solid argument against their use on shoe soles - at least before mass production of machine made shoes. Cuthbertson's quote above mentions "some small nails" on heels only, and the idea that a soldier should have a pair of soles and heels in his Knapsack suggests that replacement of soles was an expected consequence of being a Foot soldier. The following quotes are from two posts by Stuart Lillie during a recent discussion on hobnails on the Yahoo RWProgressive list:

Quote:
There are a couple things to remember about hobnails. They're iron and they weren't added for the sake of traction. Iron in the presence of leather over time causes the leather to blacken, and eventually crack as ferric acid eats away at the leather itself. Hobnails on the heel work fine because they only really stick into the top two layers of leather on the heel, which get replaced frequently anyway. The nails keep the heel from wearing quite so fast, but only in relative terms. They just extend the life of the top two layers of the heel between getting these lifts replaced.

You don't see hobnails on the soles because the nails would stick through the outsole and into the insole. The outsole could be replaced with a half sole as it wears, but this was less frequent repair. In the meantime the iron of the nails would be eating away the insole which never gets replaced in a shoe. Once the insole starts to crack the shoe is done, so hobnails on the sole would make the shoe wear out faster than none at all.

In terms of different heel construction, the variations are mostly in the heel seat; blind rands, stitched rands, covered heels, pesch heels.


Quote:
The heel lifts on period shoes were relatively temporary, especially the two lifts closest to the ground. They were generally pegged rather then sewn for that reason. These lifts just weren't on the shoe long enough for the ferric acid to eat away at them.

The sole of a shoe is completely different. Hobnails go through two layers, in the sole that would be the outsole and the insole. The insole is the backbone of the shoe, it holds everything together. While the outsole and heel can be replaced, the uppers can be patched, the shoe lasts only as long as the insole.

The any damage to the insole, which the hobnails do shortens the life of the shoe, rather than extending it.

If you go through archaeological remains and surviving shoes, the reality is that hobnails weren't common. Ligonier, HMS Betsy, HMS invincible, all these dig sites had tons of shoes. I can think of a couple out of Ligonier that had hobnails, and one was on a pair of women's shoes that had been cut down and cobbled back together several times. There may be evidence or orders out there to the contrary, but this archaeological evidence doesn't point to hobnails being a standard practice. If they weren't that common of a practice, and we know folks walked all the time, I don't think they were considered essential for traction.

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havercakelad
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reference to shoes in the Waterloo campaign
"From the slippery state of the ground our men were constantly falling, and our gaiter straps breaking, the low shoes we had came off, and many of us had to walk in our stockings."

The Reminiscences of Thomas Knight of the 95th Rifles, Men of the Rifles, Leonaur, page 30,

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