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IDENTIFIED CONFEDERATE TIN DRUM CANTEEN – LOUISIANA CSA ARTILLERYMAN – CORPORAL JOHN K. RENAUD, FENNER’S BATTERY, LOUISIANA LIGHT ARTILLERY – SERVED THROUGH THE ENTIRE WAR – 1861 TO 1865:  This classic Confederate Army Tin Drum Canteen is identified to John K. Renaud, a Louisiana veteran of the Civil War who served through the entire war, and fortunately survived to live a full and active life into the 20TH Century.

John Knight Renaud, born on May 26, 1843 in Port Gibson, Mississippi, had migrated to Louisiana with his family by the time the storms of war began to form.  In 1861, at the age of 18, Renaud enlisted in Company A of the Orleans Cadets in what was the first mobilization of Louisiana men.  Consisting of several companies, the ranks of the Orleans Cadets, especially those of Company A, were filled with young men from the most prominent families of New Orleans – the roster being a veritable list of “who’s who” in the city’s social register – and the benefits of Renaud’s association with this group would play out for the rest of his life.   

The Orleans Cadets moved to Virginia where Renaud’s first commanding officer, Captain Charles D. Dreux – an aristocrat from New Orleans society - was killed in a skirmish on July 5, 1861 near Newport News, becoming the first Confederate commissioned officer to be killed in the war. 

The Orleans Cadets continued to serve in Virginia until May of 1862 at which time the battalion was disbanded with many of the soldiers, including Renaud, joining Captain Fenner’s Battery, Louisiana Light [horse drawn] Artillery.  Fenner’s Battery was assigned to the Departments of Alabama, the Gulf, Louisiana, Mississippi, and the West; and during the course of the war was attached to Maxey’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, French’s Division, Cantey’s Brigade, Stewart’s Division, Eldridge’s Battalion, and Hoxton’s Battalion.   

Renaud remained with Fenner’s Battery for the remainder of the war, serving in action at the Jackson Siege, the Chattanooga Siege, the Atlanta Campaign, Mill Creek Gap, Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, New Hope Church, the Atlanta Siege, Nashville, and Mobile.  Although he was one of the younger soldiers in the battery, Renaud was promoted to corporal.  His service ended with his surrender and parole at Meridian, Mississippi in May of 1865.   

Renaud returned to New Orleans where he pursued a life active in business, civic leadership, and becoming well known in competitive shooting sports, competing at Creedmoor and Frogmoor.  Renaud owned retail and wholesale grocery businesses, and served as the superintendent of the New Orleans Department of Public Works.  He also continued his association with his former comrades in arms, and served on the board of the Soldiers’ Home in New Orleans.   

Renaud’s Civil War service, in particular his early enlistment in the Orleans Cadets, made him somewhat of a celebrity in the years that followed the war, evidenced by his appearance in periodic newspaper articles featuring the service of the Cadets.   

One of the fascinating benefits of researching pieces such as this canteen is how the research reveals the serendipitous intersections of people and circumstances as events unfold.  Long after the conflict had ended, history was not yet ready to release Renaud from his responsibility and service to the Confederacy.   

While traveling on the Mississippi River in 1889, former president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis fell ill and as his condition worsened, he was disembarked in New Orleans and taken to the home of an Associate Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, one Charles E. Fenner - the very same Fenner who commanded the artillery battery in which Renaud had served, and son-in-law of one of Davis’s oldest friends.  President Davis remained in the Fenner home, lasting but two more weeks before succumbing to his illness, and he was buried in New Orleans.  Given Renaud’s stature in the community and his history of service with Fenner, it is very likely that Renaud joined those maintaining a vigil at the bedside of the dying president and at the very least, participated in the funeral processional.   

In 1893, after much discussion throughout the nation, Davis’s widow decided to remove him to the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.  The State of Louisiana provided an honor guard – including Renaud - to accompany the president’s remains on the train to Richmond, and upon arrival, Renaud led the contingent of handpicked Louisiana Confederate Veterans as they marched in the president’s last processional.   

Renaud continued to be a local celebrity well into the 20TH Century, regularly appearing in various news articles covering various memorials to the Confederate cause.  John K. Renaud passed away in 1926 in his beloved New Orleans, and he is buried in the Army of Tennessee Tomb in the Metairie Cemetery. 

Corporal Renaud’s Canteen originally passed into the collector’s market paired with the ambrotype shown in the photographs below, which captured a young Renaud in his Confederate uniform.  Unfortunately, the image and canteen were separated with a sale of the image, but with the assistance of a previous owner, I was able to obtain a digital copy of the image to include with this sale.  I suspect the image was made after Renaud transferred from the Orleans Cadets to Fenner’s Battery as an image of the Orleans Cadets made in 1861 shows that their uniforms did not have the dark collar and cuff trim that is present on the uniform coat Renaud is wearing in this image.  The dark trim is likely red in keeping with the uniform trim appropriate for an artilleryman.     

Despite showing signs of having been carried in the field and subjected to the normal wear of a soldier on campaign, Renaud obviously cherished his canteen as a record of his service with Fenner’s Battery.  He hand engraved his name, the unit’s name, and his state in several places on both sides of the canteen.   

The majority of the engravings are fully legible, however due to the fine tip stylus Renaud used, most of the engravings are easier to see in proper light or when the canteen is held at an angle.  I have included close up photographs below with the text of the engravings highlighted with the addition of colored block letters below each line of engraving.  There are a few words I could not decipher, but perhaps a clearer eye and a steadier hand holding the magnifying glass may yet be able to make sense of those.  

There is one date – April 24TH, 1865 – engraved on one side of the canteen.  While the battery’s history is fairly detailed, I have been unable to determine the exact significance of the date.  On the 11TH of April, 1865, the battery departed Mobile and was eventually routed to Meridian where it surrendered on May 8TH.  It could be that the date was particularly significant to Renaud rather than the entire unit.   

Presenting as a classic Confederate Tin Drum Canteen, it measures 6 ¼” in diameter and 1 5/8” deep, and is fitted with three tin sling standing loops.  The tin spout is still intact and full form, all of the seams are still fully intact, and there are no holes or splits.   

One side of the canteen is flat as it was manufactured, and the other slightly domed, with the domed side having been pushed in.  I am fairly certain that Renaud did this intentionally in order that the canteen would hang flat against his hip.  Often seen on Civil War and Indian War era canteens, the soldiers did this intentionally in order that the canteen would hang flat against their hip, rather than bounce around on the originally manufactured rounded surface – an easy fix for what was obviously an irritation to the soldiers.   

Remnants of the original linen sling remain with the canteen, the fragments now glued down to the tin to prevent the loss of what remains.  Before you cringe too hard over the fragments being glued to the canteen, consider that had some previous owner – perhaps Renaud himself – not done this, none of the sling would have survived with the canteen.  As it is, we can see what the original sling looked like and how it was made, and that is valuable information.  Finally, while the stopper still survives with the canteen, it survives inside having been pushed or fallen through the spout.  I made some effort to retrieve it, and it probably can be done, but I’m going to leave that to the next owner.   

A detailed folio of biographical information will accompany the sale of this canteen.  The folio includes Renaud family historical and genealogical information, copies of photographs taken during the course of Renaud’s life, outlines of his service record, copies of newspaper articles covering Renaud’s civic participation, attendance at memorials – to include Jefferson Davis’s funeral, and his shooting competitions, and his obituary, as well as detailed histories of the Orleans Cadets and Fenner’s Battery.  

This is an especially nice Confederate Tin Drum Canteen in its own right.  The added value of surviving with the detailed soldier-applied identifiers Corporal John K. Renaud engraved on the faces of the canteen, and even more so, that he was a member of a well fought Louisiana Light Artillery Battery, all combine to elevate this Confederate Canteen a very special collectible of the quality that seldom appears on the open market.  (0107) $1950 



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