Substandard Shoes at Gettysburg? Peter Wellington Alexander Reports 10,000 Barefooted Confederates on the Retreat

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Yankee Brooke

Sergeant
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Jun 8, 2018
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PA
<Do Southern men really have wider feet than their English counterparts?:D>
It seems to have been the custom in the US, especially in the South, for children to simply remain barefooted until a certain age. I believe 10 or so. The natural human foot is often much wider, especially in the toe box where the toes are widely spread(a newborn baby's feet are exactly so). Such that not putting shoes on young children would allow the foot to develop naturally, and therefore be wider in general, even after introducing shoes, compared to those who are habitually shod almost since birth.

I'm not sure about the customs in Victorian Britain, or what period baby shoes were like, but them being shod in rigid shoes from an earlier age may explain why the shoes were too narrow. The English would have built the shoes using lasts typical to English feet.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
It seems to have been the custom in the US, especially in the South, for children to simply remain barefooted until a certain age. I believe 10 or so. The natural human foot is often much wider, especially in the toe box where the toes are widely spread(a newborn baby's feet are exactly so). Such that not putting shoes on young children would allow the foot to develop naturally, and therefore be wider in general, even after introducing shoes, compared to those who are habitually shod almost since birth.

I'm not sure about the customs in Victorian Britain, or what period baby shoes were like, but them being shod in rigid shoes from an earlier age may explain why the shoes were too narrow. The English would have built the shoes using lasts typical to English feet.

That makes sense and we seem to be allowing more freedom for babies' feet again. You're wayyyy too young to remember the baby shoes everyone bronzed. They came in white and white, were pretty much hard leather boxes with edges so wide it's a wonder any of us learned to walk. You tripped and wiped out so much you'd have thought we'd all have given up. No flexibility, no arch, just kinda unwieldy boxes. You could see where they were someone's idea of helpful, I guess it was thought babies needed support- barefoot would have been better.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
Just ran across several letters in the QM General's Outgoing Letter file, June 1863, requesting 20,000 pair of shoes be sent to the ANV at once. The QMG ordered the Richmond depot to send 10,000 pairs at once and asked how many pairs remained after that number had been sent to Lee. I have seen no followup letter ordering the second 10,000 to be sent.

My impression from reading the QMG letters sent file is that July 1863 was really the Confederacy's high water point. The blockade running system was working, most of the factories the south managed to create were functioning, the armies were fully manned, and the storehouses were empty of munitions and supplies. The inability to form a relief army in Mississippi, the frantic letters for the immediate shipment of blockade runner goods, the inability to send Lee a full train of ammunition while he was in the North, etc. shows the system, in June 1863, at full output, but without backups.
 
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Robin Lesjovitch

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Just ran across several letters in the QM General's Outgoing Letter file, June 1863, requesting 20,000 pair of shoes be sent to the ANV at once. The QMG ordered the Richmond depot to send 10,000 pairs at once and asked how many pairs remained after that number had been sent to Lee. I have seen no followup letter ordering the second 10,000 to be sent.

My impression from reading the QMG letters sent file is that July 1863 was really the Confederacy's high water point. The blockade running system was working, most of the factories the south managed to create were functioning, the armies were fully manned, and the storehouses were empty of munitions and supplies. The inability to form a relief army in Mississippi, the frantic letters for the immediate shipment of blockade runner goods, the inability to send Lee a full train of ammunition while he was in the North, etc. shows the system, in June 1863, at full output, but without backups.
The Confederacy was making do reasonably well....except for logistics. The farther the ANV got from Richmond or a direct rail link from Richmond, the more the army would have to do without. It would be no mystery why the word "shoes" is thrown around so much during the Gettysburg and Antietam Campaigns.. A month could do in a pair of shoes during a campaign of marches.
About the time of the Spring campaigns of 1864, the Confederacy began feeling the complete loss of the Mississippi. Horses, cattle and other things were not getting east from the Trans-Mississippi Dept. No matter how well production was going, raw materials were becoming hard to get. What military supplies there were often got bottlenecked in the collapsing infrastructure.
Had the CSA advanced war production and logistics from June '63 to June '64, it might well have succeeded.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
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Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
The Confederacy was making do reasonably well....except for logistics. The farther the ANV got from Richmond or a direct rail link from Richmond, the more the army would have to do without. It would be no mystery why the word "shoes" is thrown around so much during the Gettysburg and Antietam Campaigns.. A month could do in a pair of shoes during a campaign of marches.
About the time of the Spring campaigns of 1864, the Confederacy began feeling the complete loss of the Mississippi. Horses, cattle and other things were not getting east from the Trans-Mississippi Dept. No matter how well production was going, raw materials were becoming hard to get. What military supplies there were often got bottlenecked in the collapsing infrastructure.
Had the CSA advanced war production and logistics from June '63 to June '64, it might well have succeeded.
I fear the shortage of manpower would have prevented to advancement you mention and also prevented protecting what they had created -- the territorial losses from August, 63 to August '64 was significant (and could have been MUCH worse), but the losses from then to the end was an absolute cascade of bad news.
 

Robin Lesjovitch

Sergeant
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Dec 16, 2018
I fear the shortage of manpower would have prevented to advancement you mention and also prevented protecting what they had created -- the territorial losses from August, 63 to August '64 was significant (and could have been MUCH worse), but the losses from then to the end was an absolute cascade of bad news.
Of course. That is why the CSA lost.
I suppose I was trying to identify the point the Confederacy went on the ropes for good.
 
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Yankee Brooke

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PA
That makes sense and we seem to be allowing more freedom for babies' feet again. You're wayyyy too young to remember the baby shoes everyone bronzed. They came in white and white, were pretty much hard leather boxes with edges so wide it's a wonder any of us learned to walk. You tripped and wiped out so much you'd have thought we'd all have given up. No flexibility, no arch, just kinda unwieldy boxes. You could see where they were someone's idea of helpful, I guess it was thought babies needed support- barefoot would have been better.
Babies as well as young children in general. There's studies popping up now that being barefoot not only makes children's feet healthier, it also has a whole range of positive effects that are not often thought of. Including boosting brain development, healthier immune systems, etc.

A lot of the same holds for adults as well, and it makes sense that children who grew up barefoot would carry the habit well into adulthood. which is another possibility. Maybe the shoes were fine, the soldiers just didn't like shoes in general? That's my problem, any shoe feels restricting, even wider toe boxed ones. May have been a perception thing?
 
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