Basketry Used In Defense and War
basketweaving techniques have been used historically for many
purposes including defense and war. Basketry ammunitions
protected shells while they were being transported, wickerwork
gabions reinforced earthwork redoubts, woven willow body armor and
shields were carried or worn by soldiers, willow formed the
frameworks in the hats of Queen's guards, were used to weave
carrier pigeon baskets, officer's kit baskets, observational
balloon baskets and basketwork found its way into numerous other aspects of combat.
Deep oval oven willow baskets with solid wooden bases have been
used for transporting munitions by the military since the First
World War. Several readers of Baskets, Etc. have shared their
German 88mm Ammo Basket
Solid wooden corners frame the woven side and end panels on this
ammunitions basket displayed in the Webshots album of
This image comes from Dictionary of French Architecture from 11th to
16th Century (1856)
by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879).
Stick armor and wickerwork shields used by western Native
American warriors to protect their bodies from the onslaught of
opposing forces is described by Otis Tufton Mason in his classic
American Indian Basketry.
Basketry Used to Rehabilitate War Wounded
Basketry was taught to wounded or crippled war veterans as
rehabilitation or as a suitable trade for war invalids.
Healing the Nation: Soldiers and the Culture of Caregiving in
Britain During the Great War
Memory for Gabions
Enter "gabions" into the search form to reach many related images and documents.
Woodcut of a Gabion used during the American Revolution, a cylinder basket, open at both ends, about three feet wide, and as much in height.
They serve in sieges to carry on the approaches under cover,
when they come pretty near the fortification. Illus. in: A new
military, historical, and explanatory dictionary Thomas Simes.
Philadelphia : Sold by Humphreys, Bell, and Aitken, 1776.
Gabions at Fort Sumter
Interior of Fort Sumter showing
gabions supporting ramp to
parapets, and bombproof shelters during the American Civil War.
Gabions Being Made By West Point Cadets
Stereoscope view of military cadets at West Point constructing woven gabions.
Making Gabions and Fascines
This Civil War era drawing pictures the 50th New York Engineers making
gabions and fascines.
Pine Needle Hats
The pine needle hat and perhaps the pine needle basket itself
owes its origin to the deficiencies on the home front caused by
the hardships of war. The pine-needle hat was the tangible
expression of the fact that necessity has ever been the mother
of invention. During the American Civil War the supply of hats
gave out so one woman used the pine needles and thread she had
at hand to make a hat that was light enough to cover her man's
head while he worked in the fields. Read about it in
The Pine-needle Basket Book by Mary Jane McAfee.
Basketmaking was a Reserved Occupation in WWII
Those individuals in an occupation considered important enough to a country that
those serving in such occupations are exempt, in fact forbidden from military
service. Also known as essential services or "starred men".
Infantry, foot archers, cavalry and other combatants have
carried woven shields made of wickerwork since ancient times.
Search on "wicker" within this book for more examples.
The term pluteus is usually applied to a screen, made of
wickerwork, which was employed to protect the soldier at
they pushed the agger (materials for making a mound or
earthwork) forward toward a besieged city. It was
generally curved into a half -cylindrical form, and ran
on three rollers. Wet hides protected it from firebrands
thrown from the city walls.
The limber (photograph 19) consists of a metal frame
directly connected to the hollow steel axle. The side
and middle rails are prolonged to the front, where they
are connected by a splinter bar and covered by a
perforated sheet-metal plate for a foot rest. The
singletrees are attached to the splinter bar. A wooden
pole is keyed in a seat at the front of the middle rail;
at the rear a stout pintle hook is securely fastened.
The wheels are of wood, but are of the same size and
interchangeable with those of the carriage. The chest is
secured directly to the frame. It is of sheet metal and
is divided into compartments by one horizontal and four
vertical partitions. Each compartment takes a wicker
basket holding four rounds of ammunition. Each round is
protected during transportation by a woven mantlet or
cover. Habitually nine baskets or thirty-six rounds of
ammunition are carried in the chest, the tenth
compartment being filled by a box containing lubricants,
small tools, and spare parts. The limber chest door
opens downward to the rear, forming an ammunition table.
On top of the chest is a cannoneer's seat, fitted with
high side and back rests.
Bearskins Caps at the Palace
A bearskin is a tall fur cap worn as part of the ceremonial
uniform of several regiments in the British Army. The Bearskin
tall hat or “caps” worn by some British soldiers on ceremonial
occasions go back to 1815 when they were made to commemorate
Britain’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo. They are still
constructed over a traditional woven Somerset willow frame.
BBC Legacies describes the various ways basketmaking influenced
the war effort including weaving willow airborne pannier baskets used for dropping supplies of
ammunition, medical supplies and food to the troops.
Assembly of Supply Panniers
Image of the preparation of medical supply pannier from the
of Medical History which is part of the Office of the
Surgeon General MEDCOM Historical Program.
Deep Sea Fishing With Basket Traps
Use of basket traps helped feed the American-Filipino troops in
Bataan during World War II allowing them to hold out many weeks
longer than they would otherwise have before their fall to the
Willow Basketry as Occupational Therapy at Fort McHenry,
Willow-basket making was among several educational options or
curative workshops introduced to disabled patients returning
from World War I.
US Army Medical Department Office of Medical History
References to willow and reed basketry being used for occupational therapy or curative workshops for returning soldiers who had suffered physical or psychological trauma during wartime.
US Naval Hospital Basketry Used As Occupational Therapy
This March 1920 photograph from the
National Archive and Records Administration, Northeast Region - NYC depicts
basketweaving being used for rehabilitation of war wounded at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Learning crafts on the porch of Walter Reed
Basketweaving was among the rehabilitation therapies used after WWI at
Walter Reed. Various products created during occupational therapy were
offered for sale at
Walter Reed General Hospital.
Basketweaving for physical therapy of WWI veterans.
World War II
A soldier-patient hard at work on the construction of a basket during an
occupational therapy session at Mill Hill Hospital in Middlesex, England, UK.
Occupational Therapy classes produced a variety of
products including baskets at Mill Hill Hospital during and after the Second
More Basketry by Type
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