How Much Did Soldiers' Blankets Weigh?

Joined
Jun 7, 2021
Throwing away blankets is sometimes noted on long marches. How much would that help a tired soldier? My dad brought back two standard issue woolen blankets from the Pacific in WW2. Together they weigh five pounds. Is this the same standard weight used in the CW?
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
A Civil War-era soldier's blanket typically weighed in the neighborhood of 4 pounds. [edited: @Grayrock Volunteer pointed out I'm 16-oz. short! 5 pounds!] These were all-wool blankets, sometimes with plenty of lanolin left on the wool to help shed moisture. Even when soaking wet, they would still offer insulation to the wearer. Some soldiers reasoned that if wearing a wool uniform suit, they could sleep in their wool jacket and trousers. But if you have ever tried to sleep when soaked with sweat, and without a change of clothes, on bare ground or an extemporized debris "bed" you can really get chilled.

Some old-school "authentic campaigners" have told me about events they went to in Louisiana and some other states where the march--in peacetime, not during the war--became so grueling and difficult going that people began to strip off items from their pack or haversack, including the blankets, and stash them away reasoning that after the event they'd come back to retrieve them. They never did. Some of the stuff may be out there still! That was the "immersion": when people in the modern day did precisely what so many youths in uniform did to lighten their load, without thinking of longer term consequences.

There are many memoirs and diaries where soldiers describe how much excess stuff and useless articles they initially took with them, before being shown by seasoned campaigners how to get by with precious little..
 
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Lincoln56

Corporal
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
Some old-school "authentic campaigners" have told me about events they went to in Louisiana and some other states where the march--in peacetime, not during the war--became so grueling and difficult going that people began to strip off items from their pack or haversack, including the blankets, and stash them away reasoning that after the event they'd come back to retrieve them. They never did. Some of the stuff may be out there still! That was the "immersion": when people in the modern day did precisely what so many youths in uniform did to lighten their load, without thinking of longer term consequences.
What a great example of immersion at an event!!

As well, so many memoirs remark on dropping knapsacks, blankets, etc... going into a fight under the presumption / promise they'd return to the spot or someone would bring them their gear, which never happened. I recall someone writing of walking a battlefield years after the event observing they'd found a 'wall' constructed of now moldering knapsacks with complete contents.

There are many memoirs and diaries where soldiers describe how much excess stuff and useless articles they initially took with them, before being shown by seasoned campaigners how to get by with precious little..
Some excellent illustrations ot this in veterans memoirs - books such as "Si Klegg" (fiction but written by a veteran) showing Si equipped as enlisted and then how he looked after a few marches and receiving veterans advice. Believe John D. Billings "Hardtack and Coffee" has these types of illustrations as do others memoirs.
 

Story

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Location
SE PA
Throwing away blankets is sometimes noted on long marches. How much would that help a tired soldier? My dad brought back two standard issue woolen blankets from the Pacific in WW2. Together they weigh five pounds. Is this the same standard weight used in the CW?

Not positive but I think the WW2 wool blanket was thinner and smaller in size than the CW issue item.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2021
Some excellent illustrations ot this in veterans memoirs - books such as "Si Klegg" (fiction but written by a veteran) showing Si equipped as enlisted and then how he looked after a few marches and receiving veterans advice. Believe John D. Billings "Hardtack and Coffee" has these types of illustrations as do others memoirs.
From "Si Klegg" Here's a link to the free book on archive.org

https://archive.org/details/corporalsikleggh000hinm/page/n4/mode/1up


IMG_0279.JPG
 
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Joined
Jun 7, 2021
That's a ridiculously large blanket to carry!
Kinda explains how two "pards" could spread one blanket on the ground and use the other to cover the both of them. Also have to say the wool blankets my dad brought back are incredibly warm and surprisingly still in good shape. One of them on a cold winter night beats three acrylic blankets of the same size.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
I know that in Federal service, there were attempts at "uniformity" in blanket design and color... But then there was also "esprit de corps" at work too... Some Massachusetts volunteer infantry, for example, favored red "artillery" blankets because of Harvard's colors, for instance... Any other oddities of color?

Incidentally, my blanket is one of the Woolrich Civil War copies (unlike the originals in some regards) that I got at Antietam.
 
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