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Original Peter Tait Shell Jacket

By Eric Mink and Brett Sumner of the 4th VA, Co. A

In his recent catalog, Arkansas militaria dealer Gary Hendeshott offered for sale an original jacket owned, and worn, by Private Benjamin S. Pendelton of Co. B, 2nd Virginia Infantry. This jacket is of the “Peter Tait” construction and was worn by Pendelton when he surrendered at Appomattox. For inquiring minds, the jacket, and other personal items belonging to Pendelton, sold for $65,000. The existence of this jacket coincides nicely with a letter written by George L. Slifer of Co. G, 2nd Va. who on January 7, 1865 wrote:

“since we have bin down here we have bin supplied with clothing” and that he “drew a new inglish suit, so you can see I want nothing but piece and our independence.”

To see photos of the Pendelton jacket go to the following website:
www.garyhendershott.com/productdetail.cfm?Key=176 (If you can’t bring up the webpage, go to: www.garyhendershott.com and simply negotiate his on-line catalog).

Another interesting tidbit about this jacket…. It is mis-identified as an artillery jacket. As Tom Hummerick pointed out to me a while ago, in England during the mid-19th century, the color for infantry was red (as we all know, in the Confederate army the color for infantry was blue and the color for artillery is red). This fact could explain why the Peter Tait company shipped over infantry shell jackets with red trim to the Confederacy. There is another example of a similar jacket in Echos of Glory – in which it describes the red trim being added after being issued – which I think could be incorrect.

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