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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSING THE PIES

Field Music: 1915

Field Music: 1915

Circa 1915. "Field music -- 1st Regiment. Army buglers, D.C. National Guard." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Uniforms and equipment

Second from left is wearing a Model 1907 rifle cartridge belt, with revolver holster on the right side [probably a Model 1909 .45 revolver], and third from left is wearing a Model 1909 revolver cartridge belt. The remainder of the troops are wearing the enlisted men's leather garrison belt, and all troops are wearing Model 1902 khaki cotton service uniforms. It was typical of National Guard units to get older, and in some cases, obsolete, equipment and uniforms, well into the 1960s. Awesome photo showing this early 20th century gear up close and personal.

Lanyard

Military issue Colt .45's did have a swivel attachment. In fact when doing a small arms transfer between watches you'd transfer the lanyard to your neck before taking the weapon itself.

No pistols, please

They'd be revolvers, most likely Smith & Wesson Model 10 .38-caliber. Clip-fed pistols don't have swivel fittings.

NGDC

Not only do no two have the same belt, but no two are wearing their hats the same, either.

The tent reads "1st Infantry N.G.D.C."--this appears to stand for National Geophysical Data Center, though I've not yet established exactly when it was set up.

I guess the buglers for a bunch of Army geophysicists weren't held to as high a standard.

[NGDC = National Guard, District of Columbia. - Dave]

That makes SO much more sense!

And then Irving Berlin wrote

Someday I'm going to murder the bugler
Someday they're going to find him dead

I'll amputate his reveille
And step upon it heavily
And spend the rest of my life in bed

And then I'll get that other pup
The guy who wakes the bugler up.

Sidearms

The two definitely are wearing sidearms. The swivels, so prominent on military pistols of the era, can clearly be seen. Remember that these guys are not regular Army but National Guard. This is not to disparage the NG, but to reflect the state or district funding that often resulted in different patterns of equipment in use concurrently.

Perception

On the far left I see a person of Asian heritage. On the far right I see a guy taking a swig, although that could be up for debate.

Bugler Belts, Buttons and Hats

Sort of a sloppy outfit. Each bugler has on a different belt. One's tunic is not completely buttoned. Tassels (or whatever they are called) are placed differently on each bugle. The guy in the middle rear must be a young Smiley Burnett (only an old guy like me would know who that was) with the placement of his hat. But, all in all, a great picture.

A favorite

This is why I look at Shorpy everyday. You got to love these guys. What a great picture

Photobombing gets its start

I get the distinct impression the fellow at right jumped into the background with his kazoo (or whatever it may be) for a prank.

OK, we're all belted, so let's blow

The equipment budget for the pre-Great War military most probably was quite small, which would explain the mishmash of belts on our lads. I see three different styles. And what's up with the soldier dead center, whose belt is slung waaay low on his right? He seems to have a holstered handgun (the butt is right above the mouthpiece of the bugle in front of him), worn backwards so he can draw it with his left hand. The only other explanation I can think of is that he's the guidon bearer and what looks like a gun holster actually is a holder for a flag staff. The guy immediately to his right (third dude from the left) appears to have a holstered weapon on his belt, but up high, military fashion.

Kazoo?

Actually, it looks like he's drinking a beer.

Bugler in training

On the far right we see an apprentice bugler practising on the kazoo. When he got good they let him join the band.

So that's where he started

I think the guy on the far left ended up at MAD magazine — on the cover.

 
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