As we all know, the Federal army was perhaps the most efficient quartermaster for the Army of Northern Virginia. There are numerous first person accounts of Confederate soldiers utilizing federal equipment, taken after a battle from yanks who no longer needed it. I recently read a first person account about a Confederate private who, while a battle was still raging, rushed in front of his own line to obtain the haversack of a dead federal soldier. (Several of us may remember the SWB's very own Sgt. "Dusty" Chapman of the 27th VA - doing something similar this year during the Wilderness Campaign at Sanders Field - to obtain some yankee brogans!).
There were two basic patterns of canteens issued to the Federal army during the War Between the States: (1) the "smoothside" pattern (aka 1858 pattern); and (2) corrugated canteens (aka "bullseye" canteens; aka 1862 pattern). "Smoothside" canteens were manufactured by a variety of Federal contractors and were issued or produced from the federal depots in New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. The "Pattern of 1858" was described as a "oblate spheroid tinned sheet iron" canteen, which in modern parlance, translates to "smoothside." The corrugated canteens were first produced around July of 1862 by the Philadelphia Depot. Corrugated canteens generally had either 5, 7, or 11 rings on the sides, as opposed to being smoothside, hence the modern parlance "bullseye" canteen.
The New York Depot issued only the smoothside canteen (1858 Pattern), it did not have manufacturing capability and therefore only received and shipped lots of "complete" canteens received from its contractors. New York Depot canteens had the following characteristics:
The "body" of the canteen was made of "oblate spheroid tinned sheet iron" (translation = smoothside tin).
A spout of white metal (not tin), occasionally mounted on the canteen with large spout "shoulder" reinforcement that bulged out from the canteen.
The Stopper (cork with wire loop) was attached with a jack chain, with a hole punched in a tin strap keeper to hold the chain.
New York Depot canteens had leather slings until mid-1862, and then cotton, linen, or cloth slings thereafter.
Most canteen covers were made of course gray wool jean cloth. Some of this jean cloth may have been dyed with logwood, which would have faded with exposure to the sun into a brownish color.
The Philadelphia Depot issued smoothside canteens until July, 1862 and thereafter issued the "bullseye" pattern canteen. The bullseye pattern canteen had the following characteristics:
Corrugated sides with generally either 5 or 7 rings. 11-ring varieties were also produced.
A spout of white metal (not tin).
The Stopper was attached with a string or cord. No hole was punched into the tin strap holder. Note: Only the New York Depot produced jack chains for canteens. Also, jack chains were not produced by any Confederate state - jack chain manufacturers were only located in the North.
Leather slings - until approximately, July 1862. By mid-8162, canteen straps were made of one-inch white cotton herring bone webbing.
Canteen covers were made of either (1) cheap kersey; (2) cheap sky-blue or gray satinet; (3) any other material available, such as material from old blankets, discarded overcoats, and upholstery material.
General Characteristics of Federal Canteens
Up until mid-1862, most federal canteen sling was made of leather, with a tin buckle and protector (which was a "lip" of leather underneath the tin buckle, apparently made to protect the uniform or clothing from rust or staining). After mid-1862, all federal depots manufactured canteen slings were made of cotton, linen, or cloth. The cloth straps had folded and machine-sewn edges, or "four-panel, double chevron" weave one-inch wide web. In regard to non-leather canteen slings, its interesting to note that numerous surviving originals indicate that the soldiers modified their canteen slings by shortening them and then re-stitching the ends together. This personal modification makes sense - individual soldiers modified their slings to fit their size, in an effort to keep their canteen riding high on their body to avoid the canteen banging against their legs or hip.
As mentioned above, only the New York Depot produced canteens with jack chain stopper (cork) attachments. Generally, all other Federal depots attached the canteen stopper with approximately 20 inches of stout cotton or linen cord. The cord was tied in a loop and passed through itself, first through the stopper loop, and then through the sling keeper loop.
As mentioned above, the most common material used for canteen covers was cheap, course grey jean cloth or wool. This material would oxidize with time and develop into almost a "camel" color brown. Other types of tan, brown, or gray jean cloth were also used for covers. Importantly, federal canteens with sky blue covers were extremely rare, and dark blue wool covers were non-existent. Unfortunately, there is a prevalence of dark blue or sky blue canteen covers in re-enacting today. Dark blue wool was not used for canteen covers because it was fairly expensive and usually reserved for the making of frock coats and sack coats. Jean cloth was very inexpensive, yet durable, material - and therefore more practical for the construction of canteen covers.