Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New Artifact

We purchased a Rubberized Talma Rain Slicker that verbally belonged to Lt. Col. James M. Deems of the 1st Maryland Cavalry, Union. They were part of a cavalry brigade that followed in pursuit of the Confederate army though Monterey Pass. During the Battle of Monterey Pass and the Confederate Retreat and Union Pursuit after the Battle of Gettysburg, many soldiers would have used a rubberized blanket, poncho or Talma to protect themselves from the elements of rain. During the Battle of Monterey Pass, one of the reasons for confusion was due in part of Union and Confederate cavalrymen wearing rubberized ponchos which helped to conceal their uniforms. 

Photo as shown on the Horse Soldier Website
We are fortunate that we were able to purchase this artifact as it will help to interpret the Battle of Monterey Pass regarding the types of rain protection that the soldiers were wearing. Many cavalrymen wore rubberized ponchos while the infantry wore a rubberized blanket wrapped around their body and pined. Many officers since they were not issued items like these, had to privately purchase all of their uniforms, equipment and weapons. The Talma is a type of an example of a private purchased foul weather gear. 

A first draft of the interpretive panel
about James Deems.
As our Director builds the exhibit, the thought of interpretation themes came to mind. First, it was reported that it belong to James Deems. So, who was he? James Monroe Deems born in 1818. Before the American Civil War, he was a music educator at Baltimore, Maryland. He was best known for his 1848 composition, Nebuchadnezzar, which was the first American oratorio.  James Deems however, is best remembered through his 1850 book, Vocal Music Simplified, which was one of the earliest public-school music texts books in the U.S. 

He enlisted into the 1st Maryland Cavalry, on August 15, 1861 at the rank of major. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on October 9, 1862. During the 1863 Pennsylvania Campaign, Lt. Col. Deems was in command of the 1st Maryland Cavalry. During the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg, Lt. Col. Deems was part of the Union force that pursued the Confederate army through South Mountain at Monterey Pass.
Lt. Col. Deems resigned from army on November 10, 1863. He was given the promotions to Brevet-Colonel and Brevet-General on March 13, 1865 “for gallant and meritorious services during the war.” He later died in 1901.

But also, another theme came to mind. Not to many people realize that the Goodyear Tire company was named after Charles Goodyear. So, who was he and what did he do? Charles Goodyear born December 29, 1800,  was self taught chemists who revolutionized the rubber industry. His name still live on today. He died on July 1, 1860.  

A first draft of the interpretive panel 
about Charles Goodyear.
Rubberized material often called “Gum” from India Rubber trees was perfected by Charles Goodyear. He conducted a series of experiments where he took the sticky substance of India Rubber or Gum and stabilize the substance so that it can be applied to various objects without the stickiness. Being exposed to various chemicals, he almost killed himself by breathing in the toxic fumes in his small laboratory. But he discovered that  rubber dipped in nitric acid formed a surface cure.  This process was called Vulcanization. 

Charles Goodyear built factory to make clothing, life preservers, rubber shoes, and a variety of rubber goods. During the financial crisis of 1837, Goodyear lost everything. He worked with some other companies and with help of some finical partners he was able to rebuild his life. By 1842, he had rebuilt his factory and by 1844, Goodyear took out a U.S. patient. 

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