A Silver Stadia

by Fred Ray on November 10, 2008 · 1 comment

Bill Adams sent me a link to a nice piece of Civil War militaria—a silver stadia. Normally made of brass, the stadia was a primitive range-finding instrument with scales on one side for cavalry and infantry on the other. I’ve never seen a reference to anyone actually using one (estimating by eye usually worked better and was much faster). Still, they were customarily given out as marksmanship prizes, such as to the best shot in the regiment. Silver ones like this were rare and were normally reserved for the army’s top shot.

This one can be traced to an actual soldier who, we would presume, was the regiment’s top marksman.

Solid Silver Civil War Stadia Sight Awarded to “W. A. Lynch/ Co.F 62nd Regt. Pa. Vol.”, Which Is the Period Inscription Engraved on the Reverse of the Sight. As noted above these silver specimens were awarded to the best shot in the regiment, with only a handful of surviving examples. … Lynch enlisted in the 62nd Pennsylvania, an elite chasseur regiment, on July 22, 1861 and was mustered out July 13, 1864.

Bidding starts at a mere $5750 and is expected to get into the $10,000 range.

UPDATE: John Henderson, whose web site I mention above, provides some personal information about William A. Lynch:

Age at Enrollment: 18; Occupation: Painter; Residence: Allegheny Co.; Hair: Dark; Eyes: Brown; Complexion: Fair; Height: 5′ 4″

UPDATE: I rechecked Heth, which you can find on Google:

The regimental prize will be a silver stadia, with a silver chain attached. It will be awarded by the colonel of the regiment to that company prizeman who has made the shortest string ; and his name and company will be announced in regimental orders.

The brass stadia goes to the best company shot. Heth says both will be provided by the Ordnance Department, but you have to wonder whether that applied to the volunteers. The Army prize was a silver medal worn around the neck.


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