Original pattern 1857 British knapsack sometimes referred to as a pattern 1856. The interior of the main flap is marked with the circular stamp of the manufacturer / contractor "A Ross & Company". It is likewise marked with a British broad Arrow acceptance stamp. No other markings are visible. The knapsack body is constructed of a coarse linen and finished with a dense uniformly applied oil paint. It is entirely hand-sewn with both dark and off-white heavy linen thread. The four corner caps of buff leather are likewise painted. The wood support bar at the top of the pack is present and painted black. The interior buckles are all present and are of dipped tin. The interior straps are buff leather. The exterior leather main buckle keeper and sling hook keepers on the back bottom of the pack appear to have been coated with a white polish at some time in the past. I have not attempted to remove this polish. The hardware straps and other leather components appear to be original to the pack and are all present and tightly stitched. Both interior and exterior straps are noticeably dry and stiff and threading them through the corresponding buckles is difficult. The exterior straps are not only stiff but curled. There are no interior boards or shoulder slings present. The oil cloth is in strong condition with minor losses here and there.
Considering the age of this rare article of equipment the knapsack is in very nice condition.
Knapsacks of this pattern were extensively imported into the southern states throughout the blockade during the American Civil War. Their distinctive Hardware is found in camps and battlefields in the east and west as well as a trans-Mississippi. The extent of successful importation of the pack is estimated to have been in the tens of thousands.
Because it is marked with a broad Arrow indicating British war department acceptance this knapsack is a typical of imported. Surviving examples with a strong provenance, appear to have been newly made specifically for the Ordinance Department contracts and do not typically display the broad Arrow stamp. Having said that, Surplus British Army materials were also purchased on speculation and smaller lots and sold for importation. A Ross and Company manufactured a significant number of all knapsacks imported into the Confederacy.
This knapsack was purchased approximately 20 years ago from a dealer who got it from a East Coast collector who was assembling his collection in the 1960s and 70s while a definite a mess American Civil War provenance cannot be represented this knapsack is guaranteed to be an original British Army pattern of the mid-nineteenth century and it's clearly marked with the a Ross and Company stencil