Accession number: 112; X.112
Object type: Military
Object subtype: Bullets
Date: 1727 – 1820
Materials: Wood; leather
Measurements: 23 cm L x 11.5 cm W x 7 cm Thick
Marks/Label: Stamped on end: QUEENS 21 BAT, N. S. M.
Stamped on front of leather flap: crown with the letters GR underneath.
Military Unit: Queen's 21st Battalion Nova Scotia Militia
Subject: Armed Services, Queen's 21st Battalion Nova Scotia Militia, War, Military
Narrative: On 22 March 1753, Governor P.T. Hopson proclaimed the establishment of a militia in Nova Scotia for the defense of His Majesty's subjects and provincial. The first Militia Act was passed in 1758. In 1775, another Militia Act was passed which gave the governor (and others) the authority to enlist volunteers. This act also covered the drafting for clothing and supplies. Between 1775 and 1782 the militia stood ready, during the American Revolution. In 1795, a third Militia Act was passed amending and consolidating previous acts and covering all points and contingencies in connection with military service. The fourth Militia Act was the most complete legislation and was passed in 1821. By 1834 the militia totaled forty-one battalions. In 1859 the volunteer militia movement began and thirty volunteer companies were raised. By this time however, it was clear that the provincial militia was ineffective as a professional military force. In 1867 the recently formed Dominion of Canada assumed responsibility for the militia and defense.
Description: Curved wooden cartridge box with 18 holes drilled into the top, which are evenly spaced in two rows. A leather flap is nailed to the back of the box, and is hung over the top and front to cover the cartridge holes. On the front of the flap a royal cipher containing a crown with the letters "GR" below is stamped into the leather. Underneath the flap are two leather belt loops nailed to the front of the wooden box. The name of the military unit, "Queen's 21 Bat, N.S.M." is stamped onto the side of the box.
History of Use: This cartridge box was used by the Queen's 21st Battalion of the Nova Scotia Militia to store military ammunition.
The British eighteen hole cartridge box was a standard piece of equipment in the British soldier's set of arms for close to a hundred years during the reigns of both King George II (1727-1760) and King George III (1760-1820). The cartridges, paper tubes containing gunpowder and a musket ball, were individually inserted into each hole of the wooden box, allowing the soldier to quickly and more efficiently load a gun.
Soldiers originally wore these cartridge boxes on a narrow leather waist belt that was looped through the belt loops located underneath the leather flap, allowing the box to sit on the soldier’s stomach or right hip. As a result of where these boxes sat on the soldier’s body, they were also at times referred to as belly boxes.The boxes were worn like this until General Howe on 3 August 1775 ordered British soldiers to instead wear the cartridge boxes over their shoulders. When converted to shoulder use, the two leather belt loops underneath the inside flap were moved to the rear of the wooden box, and metal buckles were attached underneath the block for attaching the leather shoulder strap.
Nearly identical cartridge boxes existed during of the reigns of both King George II and King George III, making it sometimes difficult to differentiate when these cartridge boxes were created. The British military began to replace this type of wooden cartridge box with a twenty-four round tin magazine around 1784, and were eventually stopped being produced by the end of the reign of King George II.