1/95th Rifle - A Rifleman's Kit
Shoes and Gaiters
The shoes, unlike those of today, were made with the smooth side of the leather to the inside, thus leaving the outside with a suede leather appearance. Soles and the first part of the heel would be stitched to the upper, the second layer of the heel then being nailed to the first layer.
To prolong the life of the soles they would be fitted with metal studs. The uppers could be protected by the application of blackball, which was an early form of black polish that could be applied as a crayon or heated and used as a form of paste.
Each soldier was issued with three shoes, not three pairs, three individual shoes. The soldier would wear two of the shoes and the third would be stored in his backpack. Every couple of days the shoes would be rotated, that on his left foot would be put on his right, that on his right foot would be put in his backpack and that in his backpack would be put on his left foot thus spreading the wear and tear equally, resulting in a longer life.
This is possible because each of the shoes is straight toed, there is neither a left or right shoe. Even with these precautions the shoe quickly wore out and needed repair, usually by a member of the company.
The shoes could be worn either laced or buckled although laces would probably of been the most common form of fastening. The gaiters, made of black canvas, were only half the length of those used by the line infantry. They were designed primarily to protect the feet by keeping moisture, stones, etc from inside the shoe.
The gaiter would be fastened by a leather strap under the sole to keep firmly in place and to assist in retaining shoe to foot. The seven buttons on the outside were designed to hold the ends of the trousers neatly to the bottom of the leg. Their short length normally resulted in the trousers becoming un-tucked and being worn from the outside.