Hobnailing the Brogans - on battleworn shoes or on new ones straight in the shop?

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captaindrew

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Hi, folks!

Strange question: Were installing hobnails and heelrims a thing soldiers did in the field on their already worn Brogans or were these installed and issued directly on the new shoes at the shop/factory?

Kind regards,
Sebastian
Welcome and sorry for the slow response, I've been in the field all weekend, and that's a good question. I'm not an expert on footwear but I don't believe they were regularly done that way in the factory. They'd be added for traction and to increase the life of the shoe.
 

Package4

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Hi, folks!

Strange question: Were installing hobnails and heelrims a thing soldiers did in the field on their already worn Brogans or were these installed and issued directly on the new shoes at the shop/factory?

Kind regards,
Sebastian
Basically sutler supplied items, which could come in various designs and Corps badge configs.
 
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Package4

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So the nailed ones were issued on new shoes?
No, the individual soldier would procure the nails or the shoes and nails from a sutler and have them fastened to his footgear. I would also imagine if they got in good with the blacksmith of a cav or artillery regiment they could have something made up. Bottle of liquor, chicken what have you in exchange for a few heel pieces.
 

Frederick14Va

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While nobnails did exist during the era, the use of them on govt issued footwear wasnt that common. Fairly rare to see them present in period images whereas the bottoms of shoes may be visible. Excavated heel plates are typically found in earlier war sites, much less so in mid-latter ones.

Reenactors will commonly make use of hobnails for better traction and to hopefully extend the life of the expensive shoes. However the metal shanks of the nobnails can sometimes also cause a reaction with the oils in the leather over time deteriorating same quicker than intended. Installing hobnails "in the field" could be problematic since it normally requires specialized tools to install and cinch them properly onto the shoe sole. Attempting to install them on well worn or paper thin worn out leather soles has its own set of issues since for one, there wouldnt be much material left present for the hobnail to hang onto, and more likely to just rip through when attempting to cinch it in place.
 
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Package4

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While nobnails did exist during the era, the use of them on govt issued footwear wasnt that common. Fairly rare to see them present in period images whereas the bottoms of shoes may be visible. Excavated heel plates are typically found in earlier war sites, much less so in mid-latter ones.

Reenactors will commonly make use of hobnails for better traction and to hopefully extend the life of the expensive shoes. However the metal shanks of the nobnails can sometimes also cause a reaction with the oils in the leather over time deteriorating same quicker than intended. Installing hobnails "in the field" could be problematic since it normally requires specialized tools to install and cinch them properly onto the shoe sole. Attempting to install them on well worn or paper thin worn out leather soles has its own set of issues since for one, there wouldnt be much material left present for the hobnail to hang onto, and more likely to just rip through when attempting to cinch it in place.
Here are a pair of hobnailed shoes that were found in Hanover, PA, after the cavalry skirmish that took place there. They appear to be British import shoes and the nails are removed closest to the heel, conjecture is to facilitate stirrups. They came with a gutter frame buckle.

IMG_3665.JPG
IMG_3664.JPG
 
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