Federal Issue Shelter Tent Halves

Price $130.00

Tent Style

Styled after the French tente d’abri, the Federal issue shelter tent half was a new and invaluable piece of equipment available to the Federal soldier of 1861. Previous types of tenting, such as bell, wall, and “wedge” tents, were deemed too cumbersome for campaigning soldiers to use since they demanded vehicular carriage in the field. The result was the Quartermaster’s adoption of the French shelter tent. Minimalist in regards to providing absolute comfort yet utilitarian enough for a soldier to rely on during a campaign. Arsenal production of the shelter tent half was limited to a few government manufactories, most notably Cincinnati Depot’s “tent loft”, but contracts were let starting in late 1861 resulting in millions being produced by 1865. Stylistically the shelter tent was simple yet no two contractors made them precisely the same until an effort was made in 1864 to standardize the pattern, construction, and materials.

We are proud to offer no less than four different styles of the Federal-issue shelter tent half, each one copied from original examples in both public and private collections.

Joseph Lee Contract Shelter Half

Quite probably one of the most widely produced configurations, this early to mid-war shelter tent half was designated a “Type IIa” style by noted historian Fred Gaede. Joseph Lee, a New York City tailor, produced a total of 90,000 complete tents in July and August 1862, and 32,000 tents in April and May 1863. While not as prolific a manufacturer as fellow New Yorker John Martin, Lee held contracts for a wide range of items such as zouave uniforms, fatigue blouses, NCO and hospital steward chevrons, overcoats, overalls, stable frocks, trousers, mounted service enlisted and musician’s jackets, drum cases, and haversacks.

Our Joseph Lee tent halves are made from three vertically seamed panels of cotton drill, machine sewn and hemmed throuthout. Twenty-three natural bone buttons with matching buttonholes, hand-sewn round grommets, manila guy line and peg loops, and a contractor stamp finish each shelter half.