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The U.S. Army Canteen

By Patrick McSherry with Robert Conner and Dena Days

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This addresses the canteen used by the American forces during the Spanish American War.

The Canteen:

The standard canteen of the Spanish American War was the Model 1878 canteen, though some volunteer forces may have still been using the Model 1858 canteen left over from the American Civil War. The most obvious difference between the models was that the Model 1858 canteen had an additional guide for the strap at the bottom on the canteen, and then through the top guide, wound around the bottom of the canteen and up through the other top guide. The Model 1878 simplified the design, having the strap simply attach to the two top guides which were now triangular rings. Below are several examples of the Model 1878 canteen.

A Canteen from the 14th New York Volunteer Infantry:

This canteen belonged to William C. O'Neill, a private in the 14th New York Volunteer Infantry, Co. F.  O'Neill was 28 years old when he enlisted on May 2, 1898. He was mustered out on October 27, 1898. The regiment's Armory was located at 8th Avenue & 15th Street in New York. O'Neill's canteen is below, fully intact. The Model 1878 was provided with a canvas cover. In this case, O'Neill's name is stenciled on the canvas cover along with his his regimental designation.

Spanish American War Canteen

14th New York Volunteer Infantry Canteen (photo courtesy of Robert Conner)

A Memorialized Canteen from the 10th Ohio Volunteer Infantry:

This Model 1878 canteen was used as a canvas to create a memorial to men who served in the 10th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The decorated canteen was presented to the A. H. Day post of the G.A.R. in Kent, Ohio. The G.A.R. was the "Grand Army of the Republic," which was the veterans organization for veterans of the American Civil War. The A. H. Day post was chartered in December of 1882, and was named for Captain Alfred H. Day who commanded Co. F of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. Day died in 1870 and was buried in the town of Kent. The local veterans honored Day’s memory by naming their local branch (or post) of the G.A.R. after him.
Kent, Ohio is basically a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. It appears that the men whose names appear on the canteen were also from the Kent, Ohio area also. Therefore the men whose names are on the canteen were presenting the decorated canteen to an organization in their hometown, an organization that likely had fathers and uncles of the men as members. The words “Kent Volunteers” written in blue at the bottom, front of the canteen – appears to emphasize the mens' Kent connection.

It would appear that the presentation between 1898 and 1906 as it appears that John Bly died in 1906. .
Of course, the crossed flags are that of the U.S. and Cuba. The ‘98” refers to 1898, the date of the Spanish American War.

The men listed on the canteen are as follows:

"C.S. Brown" – Pvt. Clifton S. Brown, Co. B (formed in Cleveland)
"H.S. Goodrich" – Pvt. Harry S. Goodrich,
Co. I (formed in Cleveland)
"H. Gardner" – Pvt. Howard J. Gardner,
Co. H (formed in Toledo)
"Thos Rooney" – Pvt. Thomas Rooney,
Co. B (formed in Cleveland)
"J.J. Bly" – Pvt. John F. Bly,
Co. B (formed in Cleveland)(note that the regimental roster lists his as "John F.," the canteen as "John J." It is unclear which is correct)
"V.A. Mellon" – Pvt. Vernon A. Mellin,
Co. K (formed in Cleveland)(note that the regimental roster spells the last name as "Mellin," and the canteen as "Mellon." It is unclear which is correct)
"W.W. Price" – Pvt. Walter W. Price, Co. C (formed in Cleveland)
"F.T. Reynolds" – Pvt. Francis T. Reynolds,
Co. B (formed in Cleveland)
"F.A. Gressard" – Pvt. Frank A. Gressard,
Co. C (formed in Cleveland)
"Thos Cull" – Pvt. Thomas Cull,
Co. B (formed in Cleveland)
"Chas Caris" – Charles H. Caris,
Co. C (formed in Cleveland)

Model 1878 10th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Canteen

10th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Presentation Canteen - front (Photo courtesy of Dena Days)

Decorated Canteen from the 10th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

10th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Presentation Canteen - back (Photo courtesy of Dena Days)

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