Camp Life Continued

Buttons found on Roanoke Island, primarily in Camp Reno. Top row: royal crest, glass, one piece eagle, flat, navy, Middle: bone, North Carolina state seal, hunting (boar), New York Seal, black ceramic Bottom: flower, eagle  I, large white ceramic, navy, two hole (maker marked)

Can buttons tell use what troops occupied a camp and how they were dressed? Yes     Are all non-military buttons associated with Confederate troops? I don't think so.       If  black refugees used Camp Reno wouldn't they have lost buttons? 

We know from the Official Records that the Southern troops on the island were not equipped with the most up to date arms and equipment. How the Confederates looked has been described by numerous Yankees. One of these soldiers, Private James E. Glazier of Company F, 23rd Massachusetts wrote: Now, with regard to the looks of the prisoners, I need not describe them, as you have seen the "Mount Pearly Blues" I do not stretch the truth when I say they look like the above. Of all the " haram scaram," dirty, ragged, green and silly looking beings  ever saw, these prisoners are the greatest. Of course, there are exceptions. Many of the "Wise Legionnaires" are of the aristocracy of Virginia. These are smart but wicked- looking fellows and are dressed quite decently, having black overcoats. But the North Carolina men are the lowest class. As to their uniform, I cannot describe it - some wear gray, some tan color, and the most of them wear citizen's dress."

  Non-military buttons found in Camp Reno might have been sewn onto clothing worn by North Carolina soldiers. Pre-war military buttons are common finds in an early war camp such as this one. The North Carolina state seal indicates that some uniformity existed within the ranks. Every northern state that had regiments in the expedition lost state seals in the camp along with many general issue Eagle buttons. It was not uncommon for Union soldiers to bring civilian cloths like shirts, vests and underwear with them on campaign. If black refugees lived in Camp Reno after the 9th New York vacated it than some of the buttons found would most surely have belonged to them. Interesting to note is that I know of only two Georgia buttons that were found there. Remember that the 3rd Georgia was on the island for three and a half months. The low number of Georgia buttons indicate that those troops were not in this camp.

Hard rubber artifacts found in Camp Reno. All the items were sifted out of trash pits. Buttons, combs and a pipe stem.

Do you know what this artifact is? A leather clothing item rarely seen after the first year of the war. Found near Fort Huger, it was originally intended to ward off saber blows. One of the branch's of our armed forces is nicknamed this. Answer on next page.