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Vivandière Items
Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Vivandière Items

Catalog #: 17090    Accession #: 60666
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 4.5" H x 15" W x 0.5" D

Physical Description

Housewife sewing kit of blue wool with needle, thread and buttons. Tobacco twist. Sugar bag, coffee bag and metal can, circular lamp, and camp stove.

General History

A vivandière, a woman who traveled with soldiers, often provided creature comforts to the men, including sugar, coffee and tobacco. A housewife, or hussif, was a cloth sewing kit that soldiers carried into battle. Usually made of cloth or leather, it contained needles, thread, and a thimble for mending uniforms. While it was often difficult for the public to obtain tobacco, soldiers in the Civil War found it plentiful. The U. S. Navy supplied sailors with tobacco rations and in 1864, the Confederate government did the same for its soldiers. Confederate officers did not receive a tobacco ration as they were more likely to smoke the more fashionable cigar. Sugar and coffee were generally distributed to soldiers on an individual basis and carried in bags. Coffee cans were issued as a part of a mess kit for cooking or boiling as were oil lamps and camp stoves.


Country: United States
War: Civil War
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