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Old 11-20-2010   #1
Pete
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Default The Humble Shelter Half

Just about everyone remembers the humble shelter half, which when buttoned or snapped to another makes a "pup" tent. I once read a reference to shelter halves being used by the British Army at Waterloo. When the shelter half was introduced by the U.S. Army during the Civil War the tent was known as a "dog" tent. During the Civil War rifle-muskets were used as poles, and some decades later pre-World War II manuals show images of the tent being pitched with M1903 Springfield rifles used as poles. Presumably the change from long rifle-muskets to shorter rifles led to the change in terms from dog to the more diminutive pup.

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Old 11-20-2010   #2
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An excellent resource on the use of the shelter half in the American Civil War is Frederick Gaede The Federal Shelter Half in the American Civil War, A bit of background; the shelter half came about from George McClellans visit to the Crimean War. He saw the French troops with the "tent d abri" and thought it would be admirable for issue to US troops.The French issued tent poles but the US did not until later in the war.
Among other things from his visit was the McClellan saddle and the first US bayonet drill.
The 1850's were times of great inovation for the US Army. Jefferson Davis, although a horrible president of the Confederacy; was probably one of the best Secretary's of War they ever had. He had new drill and tactics developed, introduced the rifle musket and even looked into the Camel Corps.
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Old 11-20-2010   #3
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Default More Military Trivia

The reason the U.S. Army has an Adjutant-General and a Surgeon-General is because during the 19th century they were the only general officers authorized for their respective departments. My Revised U.S. Army Regulations of 1863 makes that point clear in its officer pay tables. The pay tables for the enlisted men of 1863 include the payroll deduction for support of the Old Soldiers Home in Washington DC, just like today.

Old Army publications provide clues about where some of our terminology came from -- in 1863 Boards of Survey were convened to investigate cases of missing Army property, which isn't much different than our current terms of Surveying Officers and Reports of Survey. Endorsements to correspondence are an old 19th-century U.S. Army practice that continue to this day -- see my "Guerillas Near Washington DC" thread in the Historians forum to read endorsements by JEB Stuart and Robert E. Lee to several of Mosby's reports.
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Old 11-20-2010   #4
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I had such a primitive thing during my service as well - which is a shame, since there was a vastly superior, out-rightly ingenious design in the Wehrmacht.

The Zeltbahn 31 and 34 were quarter tents. They served not only as tent pieces, but also as ponchos, wind protection, float and stretcher.

http://zeltbahn.net/tent.htm
http://zeltbahn.net/poncho.htm
http://zeltbahn.net/float.htm

Finally, it was probably the first quantity-produced fabric with a camouflage pattern (and a quite good one, unlike UCP).


I never learned why exactly the Bundeswehr used such a crappy design until the 90's when such an ingenious predecessor was known!
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Old 11-21-2010   #5
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My impression of the Bundeswehr during a field exercise at Munster Lager in 1979 was that they assume buildings in Europe will be available for billeting its troops. The U.S. Army retains an old frontier tradition of assuming its operations will always be in the wilderness, requiring tents, axes, shovels, and every other item of equipment needed to survive in the wild (although you couldn't tell that today from looking at one of our air-conditioned FOBs). Our 2 1/2- and 5-ton trucks even look like Condestoga wagons when the canvas is on the back. The U.S. Army has its Ordnance Corps for vehicle maintenance; the Bundeswehr has contractor maintenance support, and soldier mechanics are used only for quick repairs in the field.

By the way, when I was at Munster in 1979 I ate the famous German Army pea soup with a big wedge of black bread.
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Old 11-21-2010   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
I had such a primitive thing during my service as well - which is a shame ...
If it works don't fix it.
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Old 11-21-2010   #7
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Before the zeitbahn, there was Days Poncho tent shelter. It was essentially a shelter half with slit for the neck to go through. It was made out of painted cloth and was meant not only to provide some rain protection but also a water proof tent. I believe the patent date was 1860. There was also a knapsack that folded out to provide a shelter half. When it came time to move out the contents of the pack were placed back into the folded knapsack. The govt bought some of days poncho tents, but apparently he could not provide them in quantity.
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Old 11-21-2010   #8
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This antiquarian and history stuff is useful for understanding how we got to where we are now, and also for predicting how the institution of the Army might act in the future when in similar circumstances. However, some years ago I had to part company with some Civil War buff friends when they began insisting that being obsessive about utterly trivial historical facts is evidence of a devotion to the greater cause of enshrining the Civil War in memory. History is nice, but only up to a point.
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Old 11-21-2010   #9
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Fully agree with the "...if it ain't broke..." sentiment although I had no idea that what we know as the humble 'hoochie' had such a long history...of all the personal equipment we had, this was the only one that we never asked to have improved - coz we couldn't see what else it might need...a great testament to the KISS principle...have used it in conditions from the Asian monsoon to light snow and have been amazed at the ingenuity with which soldiers can apply such a simple design to protect them from the environment and use it for other tasks like flotation, improvised stretcher, etc
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Old 11-21-2010   #10
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In the vein of the more things change the more they stay the same. Read the ordnance board reports on the adoption of the 1855 Springfield. The main drawback was the new caliber .58, Previously all US muskets had been .69. According to some of the ordnance board members; who all had frontier service; the .69 was a sure man killer.
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Old 11-24-2010   #11
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Sometimes the obsessions of military collectors get out of control. From the Great War Forum:

Quote:
The classification of the genera and species of military digging implements is truly a sadly neglected area of military history that cries out for further study, and may have a Ph.D dissertation in it for a determined scholar. Since World War II we in the U.S. have been calling them Entrenching Tools. Our model during that war was copied from the one the military genuises in the Wehrmacht had -- it has a blade that can be adjusted 45 degrees to make it either a pick or a shovel. I have one in my car, ostensibly for digging out from mud or snow, but mainly for the purpose of bashing unpleasant people on the head should the need ever arise. The police here would not regard it as weapon should they see it at a traffic stop.
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If Andrew ***** were to write the definitive book on this subject he could be to military digging implements as Linnaeus is to botany. Who knows, the Royal United Services Institute might even give him a free lifetime membership.
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Before I read this thread I had the impression that many of the guys who collect obscure items of military equipment led dull lives. I was under the impression that years ago when Dad lent them the car during their teenage years none of their dates had ever unzipped their pants, nor had they done the same to the girls. Boy was I wrong, I really underestimated how aroused these guys become when they get rowdy and out of control! These guys are real live wires, particularly when the discussion turns to the proper nomenclature of old army stuff and they want to fight to the death about the differences between shovels, spades, entrenching tools, picks and maddocks.

Last edited by Pete; 11-24-2010 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 11-24-2010   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJPONeill View Post
Fully agree with the "...if it ain't broke..." sentiment although I had no idea that what we know as the humble 'hoochie' had such a long history...of all the personal equipment we had, this was the only one that we never asked to have improved - coz we couldn't see what else it might need...a great testament to the KISS principle...have used it in conditions from the Asian monsoon to light snow and have been amazed at the ingenuity with which soldiers can apply such a simple design to protect them from the environment and use it for other tasks like flotation, improvised stretcher, etc
Likewise, I only have positive things to say about the mighty weather-defying half-shelter (aka hoochie). I have been taught some pretty amazing and outrageous hoochie set-ups in my time, including a make-shift sauna if you need to defrost someone in a non-tactical environment.

Originally thinking it would be good to post an image of the NZ issue hoochie with this post I then went and searched 'hoochie' as a google image query.... wow. I think something may have been lost in translation?!?
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