Tag: gunner’s haversack

Wikipedia says: A haversack or small pack is a bag with a single shoulder strap. Although similar to a backpack, the single shoulder strap differentiates this type from other backpacks. There are exceptions to this general rule.

The word haversack is an adaptation of the German Hafersack and also the Dutch haverzak meaning “oat sack”, (which more properly describes a small cloth bag on a strap worn over one shoulder and originally referred to the bag of oats carried as horse fodder). The term was adopted by both the English and French (as havresac) cavalry in the 17th century. The word haver likewise means “oats” in Northern English and Scottish dialects.

The haversack, especially when used in the military, was generally square and about 12 inches (30 cm) per side with a button-down flap to close it. When empty, the bag could be folded in three and an extra button on the back of the bag would allow it to be refixed in this position. For the military, this made it neat and, when held to the side in its folded form by the soldier’s belt, it became part of the uniform of many regiments in the British army.

Haversacks were in use during the American Civil War, as recounted in Grant’s memoirs, “In addition to the supplies transported by boat, the men were to carry forty rounds of ammunition in the cartridge-boxes and four days’ rations in haversacks.”