The Confederate Officer's Shell Jacket of Captain John A. West, Chief of Artillery On General Taylor's Staff. John West was a cadet at West Point at the outbreak of the war and promptly resigned his commission to offer his services to the Confederacy. He was commissioned a lieutenant and adjutant in the 15th Georgia Infantry on July 17, 1861 and shortly thereafter assigned to the 1st Regular Battery, Confederate Light Artillery. West served with this unit, eventually being promoted to captain, until August 3, 1864 when he was commissioned a major and assigned as Gen. Richard Taylor's Chief of Artillery in the Trans Mississippi Department. He is credited with sinking a Yankee gunboat during the red River Campaign. Photographs of West appear in Albaugh's book "Confederate Faces" pp. 21 and 214. This gray wool infantry staff officer's shell jacket was probably originally acquired by West during his tenure with the 15th Georgia Infantry and incorporates blue wool piping on all leading edges on the front and bottom cuffs and the 1 ½" high standup collar. The collar displays the three horizontal bullion bars of a captain indicating this jacket was also used by West through his service with the 1st Regular Battery, Confederate Light Artillery. The seven button front retains all of the original "Extra Rich/Treble Gilt" Confederate staff officer's buttons. The jacket is entirely hand stitched including button holes. Unquilted cotton muslin lining in the body and sleeves with a large pocket in the left breast. Gray wool interior facings with gray wool collar lining of a slightly coarser weave than the body of the coat. There appears to have been a cotton tag stitched to the inside of the collar which is now missing. Typical shell jacket sleeve cut, 8 ½" elbow tapering to a 5" cuff and tufted shoulders. A very rare and character laden Confederate officer's shell jacket identified to a gallant officer who served through the entire war.
The jacket clearly shows honest use most notably on the edges of the cuffs and button holes, but overall really excellent. The bottom button has been retacked, but the original stitching is still present, all other buttons original and untouched. All buttons retain much of the original gilt. There is a small hole between the second and third buttons that actually appears to be a bullet hole. Lining shows its great age and obviously heavy use with a couple of small holes, noticeable wear along the bottom edge and some minor scattered staining. The stitching has popped on a 3 ½" section along the seam at the back where the collar attaches to the body, minor. The bullion captain's insignia also shows wear with a few strands popped and missing, completely untouched.