Author Topic: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags  (Read 1914 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline brandm24

  • BR & M
  • Moderator
  • Meritorious Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« on: May 26, 2019, 08:36:54 PM »
Although my small number of examples are American Civil War era, I'd like to see pieces from all countries during war or peacetime.

The US government didn't issue soldiers dog tags in great numbers until World War l. I think there were some during the Spanish-American War, but I'm forgetting my early research on that period.

There was a real fear by combatants that during the fierce battles in which they fought they would be killed and remain  unidentified. As a result, many attached identification in some form to their body or uniform. Soldiers used many methods to do so, including notes pinned to the uniforms, carved pieces of wood in their pockets, the carrying of personal diaries, privately engraved metal discs, and in rare instances counterstamped coins. The practice of carrying body identification seemed to be the concern of the Union soldiers more so than their Confederate opponents. I don't know the reason for this, but do know that Confederate artifacts of this nature are rare to almost non existent.

Struck tags engraved privately by individuals (private dog tags) are the most commonly seen today. Not common necessarily, but available for a price. On the other hand, counterstamped coins or tokens used as dog tags are exceedingly rare. One problem is trying to verify that they were actually used as identification by a soldier in the war.

This one was acquired several years ago from a Steve Hayden Mail Bid Sale (#45 / Lot 145). Steve kindly contacted the seller for me to see if he had a backstory to share. He never received a response, so I wasn't able to pinpoint where this obviously dug example was found. Surprisingly, metal detectorists were permitted to search Civil War battle sites until the 1960s. strictly forbidden today.

The heavy encrustation on this piece makes it difficult to decipher, but under magnification it becomes much easier. The host is an 1863 Gen. George McLellan Civil War token. The inscription reads "C. Cate / A12 NH / Alton"  The "A 12 NH" stands for "A Company, 12 th  New Hampshire Regiment. C. Cate  is Charles Cate, the wearer of the tag. "Alton" means Alton, New Hampshire , one of the towns where the 12th was recruited, and Cate's residence.

Cate enlisted as a Private on August 15, 1862 and remained with the 12th until October 29, 1863. His regiment fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War including Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, VA on December 12-15, 1862 and May 1-5, 1863 respectively. The regiment was also engaged heavily at Gettysburg, PA July 1-3 1863. After a day of fierce combat with Wilcox's Alabama Brigade north of the Klingel farm the remanats of the regiment took up positions on Cemetery Ridge. Later they helped repulse the desperate charge of Confederate General George Picket.(Picket's Charge).

Cate survived the war and moved to Haverhill, MA where he was involved in the grocery and provisioning business for the rest of his life. He passed away on February 10, 1927 and was buried in Hilldale Cemetery in Haverhill.

Bruce

Cate
Always Faithful

Offline brandm24

  • BR & M
  • Moderator
  • Meritorious Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2019, 07:02:22 PM »
I came across this interesting coin a couple of years after acquiring the token above. Knowing the history of the  Civil War dog tag of C. Cate, I immediately felt there might be a connection to this one.

The stamped McLellan token was carried by a man named Charles E. Cate of the 12th New Hampshire as stated above. During my original research, I also came across a man named Charles A. Cate who was a member of the same regiment. I couldn't establish a relationship between the two, but it seems likely that they were related in some way.

The discovery of two men named C. Cate in the same regiment at the same time initially confused me. Later I learned that C.A. served in H Company, and was never a member of A Company. This of course told me that the name on the original token was Charles E. not Charles A. Cate.

This 1802 US Large Cent stamped C.A. Cate may have been the dog tag carried by this man. It's holed for suspension and stamped on a heavily worn coin,which makes it very visible. Of course there's no way to be sure, but it is an interesting possibility. Apparently, the previous owner of the coin was thinking along the same lines, as he left some notes on the 2x2 holder indicating his belief that it was a dog tag. He got his "Cates" mixed up though. "C.E. wasn't the issuer of this one.

Tragically, C. A. Cate was killed at Chancellorsville, VA. in May, 1863.

Bruce

Always Faithful

Offline brandm24

  • BR & M
  • Moderator
  • Meritorious Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2019, 07:07:13 PM »
Whoops, got the coin wrong. An 1809 / 6 Half Cent.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Offline malj1

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7 349
  • "illegitimi non carborundum"
    • Mals Machine Tokens
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2019, 12:47:56 AM »
Interesting, in fact quite amazing to find two similarly named pieces of the same regiment from the civil war.
Malcolm
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.

Offline brandm24

  • BR & M
  • Moderator
  • Meritorious Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2019, 06:00:44 PM »
As soon as I saw the name on the Half Cent, I thought of my Cate dog tag and my earlier discovery of C.A.

While I'm confidant that the Mclellan token was used as body identification, the second one is only an interesting possibility. These things are difficult to prove.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Offline Figleaf

  • Administrator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 30 584
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2019, 11:21:51 PM »
Just speculating aloud here. The reason why confederates were less likely to carry body id may be religion. Mainstream protestants think that it's not too important where their body goes after death, while catholics prefer their grave to be identified and preferably be in hallowed ground. It seems likely that the Northern army would harbour many more catholics (e.g. descendants of Irish and Italians dynasties) than the confederate army. Perhaps Cate used to be Cato?

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

  • BR & M
  • Moderator
  • Meritorious Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2019, 11:11:18 AM »
I'll check the possible Cate / Cato connection, Peter.  ;D

I'm not sure it was a religious thing in particular, though it may have played a part. I think it was just the fear that if killed they would go unidentified, and their family would never know what happened to them.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Offline Figleaf

  • Administrator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 30 584
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2019, 12:09:16 PM »
Fear of remaining unidentified doesn't explain why confederate soldiers reacted differently, though.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

  • BR & M
  • Moderator
  • Meritorious Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2019, 03:42:55 PM »
That's true, Peter.  Peter-1 Bruce-0  Want to go for best of 5?  ;)

Bruce
Always Faithful

Offline Figleaf

  • Administrator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 30 584
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2019, 10:25:14 PM »
Let's split the difference :) This is exactly what I like about counterstamps and tokens. They are puzzles. The require detective work and you won't solve them anyway. Like a tax form ;)

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

  • BR & M
  • Moderator
  • Meritorious Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2019, 11:03:54 AM »
And that's the appeal of it...the research.

I recall starting a project years ago on the counterstamp of a man named Riley Haskell I was so disappointed to find everything out I needed to know about him in less than half an hour. Yikes! No fun at all.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Offline malj1

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7 349
  • "illegitimi non carborundum"
    • Mals Machine Tokens
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2019, 08:36:59 AM »
Another spotted on eBay today on an Australian florin - two shillings. ...it is 900 silver.

Not much left to research but I wonder what this sailor was?  INT. O.   US NAVY
Malcolm
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.

Offline brandm24

  • BR & M
  • Moderator
  • Meritorious Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2019, 04:52:46 PM »
That's really interesting, Mal. Apparently, a WW l dog tag, although the date is 1920. Also unusual to see a US tag on an Australian coin. Looked briefly into who Nichols was, but didn't find anything. I'll look a little more when time permits.

Some thoughts on the meaning of "Int O." This may be where he lives. In those days and earlier, Ohio was sometimes abbreviated "O" so the "INT" might be an abbreviation for a city in Ohio. I checked the internet for cities that might fit those initials, but came up empty. There's a possibility that what ever Int represents may have changed its name, been absorbed into a larger political jurisdiction, or was so small that it never made the list. In the extremely unlikely chance that a I may be wrong...I know it's laughable to contemplate that  ;) ...it might be the ship he served on, his profession in the navy, or something else.

I'll keep looking and get back to you if I find anything. Mr. Nichols deserves to be identified.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Offline Figleaf

  • Administrator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 30 584
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2019, 05:34:35 PM »
Intelligence Officer?

Just a guess.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

  • BR & M
  • Moderator
  • Meritorious Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 666
Re: Counterstamped coins used as military dog tags
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2019, 06:59:05 PM »
I thought about that one, but so far having found anything that helps.

I just found out that a fire at the National Archives years ago destroyed most federal military records from 1912 until the 1960s or there abouts. All state records are still available, but since we don't know what state Nichols enlisted from, that's not a help.

Bruce
Always Faithful