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Mexican punitive expedition pin?

Discussion in 'Medals, Insignia, Badges & Recalls' started by KodiakBeer, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Found this metal detecting at what used to be a railroad siding in Rodeo, NM. It looks similar to a WW1 Infantry collar pin, but those just have the crossed rifles without the US at the top. After I cleaned it I could see that it has K and 17 stamped in the bar across the middle. I can not find a pin looking like this with all my google-fu.

    If K is the Company and 17 is the Regiment, then this may well be a remnant of Pershing's expedition against Pancho Villa in 1916. The 17th Infantry Regiment was part of the expedition. The railroad at Rodeo, NM, was on the east-west rail line along the Mexican border. Pershing's forces were moving all along the rail, penetrating into Mexico everywhere from west Texas to Arizona. If this is a pre-WW1 Infantry collar pin and my guess is right about the markings, then some soldier lost his collar device there and probably got hell from his Sergeant.

    Has anyone seen a pin like this? Is this a 1916 Infantry pin?

    View attachment 23461 View attachment 23462
     

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  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Thanks for the poser, Keith. I've never seen anything like it. My google-fu must be broken. I've tried various combinations and have not seen anything similar. I hope someone can shed light on this.
     
  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Thanks for trying, Lou. I can't find one like this either. It looks very much like the WW1 pin worn on the collar, but that is just the crossed rifles with the beaded background. I'm pretty sure I'm right that it's the pin worn just prior to the war, but I can't find a picture of one to verify that.
     
  4. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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  5. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Nothing on that site, Skipper. They do show some Spanish American War collar devices which weren't a disk, just the crossed rifles. So, you can see that between those periods they changed to the round disk they wore in WW1 - and some of those WW1 disks do show Company Letter and Regimental number, which confirms in my mind that this was a guy from Company K, 17th Regiment. The WW1 disks differ in that those with the company and letter designations are stamped in at the factory and look much more professional than this one which just has the unit stamped into that band in haphazard fashion.
     
  6. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    You could be right with the Pancho expedition, I'm also checking the Cuba expeditions. This would be around 1898.

    https://books.google.fr/books?id=YnrFBQAAQBAJ&pg=PT142&lpg=PT142&dq=17th+regiment+arizona+1898&source=bl&ots=vyPBKsR1X5&sig=grERqBtsuPPrDrFod2CH72s5qB8&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjJvM63zdHJAhWHcBoKHQKVDvsQ6AEIMDAC

    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~scjssawv/History/Arizona/Arizona.html

    https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Spanish-American_War,_1898

    your button could be an enhanced personalised regimental version.

    One hint would be the history of the 17th regiment. The first link tells the 17th regiment fought at Cuba in July 1898.
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I have been wondering about that too.

    It might have been a private purchase, because, AFAIK, the Army collar discs were all screw backs, and this one has an unusual three pronged attachment - as if the were to have been bent over an original collar disc, to secure the "private purchase" collar disc on top of the original.

    Can't say that I believe that the prongs themselves would have been used to secure the disc to the uniform...As the troops disliked the originals because they had to make one hole in the collar to secure it, but with KB's you would have to make 3.


    Have you tried posting over in the Army collar disk section of the US Militaria Forum: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/forum/1512-army/
    It might yield some answers.
     
  8. Biak

    Biak Adjutant

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  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I think I've solved the mystery. I contacted a Dr. Lanham at the site linked below and he responded to say it isn't a collar disk at all. It is a disk used to identify equipment. I wrote back for more clarification - was this on the outside of a shipping crate or on horse tack, etc? The tabs don't lend themselves to attaching it to a metal object so I'm hoping he can clarify that, and also confirm that this is 17th Infantry Regiment as it appears to be.

    If it is 17th IR, I'll give it to the small Museum over in Columbus, NM, which is devoted to the Pancho Villa raid and Pershing's punitive expedition. It's a nice little museum that tells the story, but they actually have very few authentic items tied to the event. They mostly have period items and weapons of the type used, but since all the fighting moved south of the border, there isn't much there that was actually directly tied to the events. Even the beautiful and rare (in this country) Hotchkiss M1909 Benet-Mercie machine gun that is the centerpiece of their collection is just an example of the type used by Lt. Lucas' battery to turn the tide in the battle at Columbus. I think they'll be happy to have even this small item. I'm waiting further clarification from Dr. Lanham.

    http://hglanham.tripod.com/metalinsignia2/datingclutches.html
     
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  10. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Bingo! See my post above - it was used to mark equipment.
     
  11. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Nice going you guys. I was on the same site last night, but was operating under the impression that it was a collar disc.
    As in : http://www.hayesotoupalik.com/WW1%20U.S.%20Collar%20Discs.htm

    It never occurred to me that it would be something else. But, I never have seen or heard of the equipment marker discs.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Biak

    Biak Adjutant

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    In between the posts we lost power (again!) and I changed the photo before catching up with your post - found the infantry- Neat find no matter what.

    I'm envious !
     
  13. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Glad the mystery is solved Did you read about the campaign of the 17th in Cuba btw?
     
  14. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Me either - looking for the wrong thing - garbage in, garbage out. I'm still puzzled as to how you would attach that directly to equipment. I'm thinking it would be something that went onto leather horse tack - even the infantry used horses to haul their gear and of course the officers rode. The tabs look just like the conchos and tags put on civilian horse tack. That ring in your photo would be on the opposite side so the tabs didn't cut back through the leather. That's my guess - still waiting for the expert to get back to me.

    In fact, I found an old heart shaped concho in the same place with a very similar tab - one tab is broken off and one remains. The concho is base metal with just a bit of silver plating still on it, probably from a ladies horse. So, the place I was searching may have been a corral back in those days.

    The Infantry disk is the size of a quarter - perhaps a millimeter larger in diameter. The concho is slightly larger.

    View attachment 23465
     

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  15. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    No, but I will! I've suddenly developed an interest in the 17th.
     
  16. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I'm glad that the poser was figured out. Some good research done. I too thought it was a collar pin do that's what I looked for. At least some people searched further. Well done.

    Keith make sure you inform us of the results of your reading.
     
  17. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I wrote about the Villa raid at Columbus here: http://www.ww2f.com/topic/56172-villa-raid-in-new-mexico/?hl=%2Bpancho+%2Bvilla

    The Pershing expedition isn't nearly as interesting, because Villa was a better general and the nature of the country and his guerrilla army and tactics foiled Pershing again and again. Villa wasn't going to let himself get involved in a major fight against a well armed and disciplined American force. He destroyed every force Carranza threw his way, but Carranza's forces were conscripted men, most of whom sided with Villa and wouldn't stand and fight him.

    Pershing's force was mostly cavalry, with only two infantry regiments. The cavalry did all the fighting and most of that was just skirmishes here and there when they got lucky enough to blunder into a few Villistas. The two infantry regiments were relegated to occupying towns, rail depots, places along the supply route, etc. Pershing was smart enough to realize Infantry was of little use chasing Villa around the Sierra Madre.
     
  18. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    In further correspondence with Dr. Lanham (who also contacted several other people who dabble in arcane militaria), this is known as a "Model 1919 Infantry Equipment Identification Disk" and they are quite rare and a bit mysterious - mysterious because even though the nomenclature is Model 1919, they have been found on horse tack in Europe that is definitively 1917/1918, so they were in use prior to the 1919 designation, and they disappeared completely in the 1920s. So, they were only in use a short time and most of them found don't have a unit stamped in the bar - likely, most of them just sat in some quartermasters stores until discarded or sold off as scrap.

    As for the 17th infantry Regiment, they did not go to Europe in 1917 which is kind of odd. There was a full mobilization and yet this Regiment already trained and "blooded" didn't go to France. Local amateur historians tell me that troops were stationed all along the border until things cooled down in Mexico - early 20's perhaps. I'm sure the 17th was part of that, but I can't find anyone to confirm that.

    In the meantime, another find from the exact same place! I didn't find this, but a friend found it a few days ago and gave it to me. It's an army button of a type introduced in 1902. These are apparently still in use today according to the Intertubes, but I can't recall seeing such a button. Maybe one our grunts can tell us where these are used? It looks too small to be on a jacket, and I don't recall ever seeing a shirt button of this type.

    I researched this a bit. The style of Mfr. stamp on the back (Scovill) indicates this is quite early, so very likely from the time period of the disk above. The tip of the pen is added for scale. It appears to be bronze rather than brass.

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  19. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper Patron  

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  20. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I just use an inexpensive Tesoro Compadre. You can screen out ferrous metals, but it's defeated by tin cans which are all lined with tin or zinc. It's amazing how many 100 yearold cans are a foot under the earth.
     

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