How To Make a Civil War Pipe Kit

by Paula and Coach McCoach

Every reenactor wants to have authentic articles in their haversack. But as the old saying goes, "To do anything right, you have to do it yourself."

Making a Pipe Kit for your haversack is not only authentic, it is useful. You can make your pipe kit and smoke it too! And, it is so easy!

A pipe is one of the first materials you will need. No, you are not going to make the pipe. But, following are some places where you can look to purchase a quality pipe at a bargain price. Check ebay on the web under Collectibles and Military items.

Sometimes there are nice pipes listed under Civil War reproductions on ebay that are Guaranteed Briar and have never been smoked. A good price for one would be anywhere from $9 - $20. Another place to look for a nice pipe is in antique stores. In some antique stores, pipes can be found for as little as under $5. Keep looking. Check original photos for the right look.

To make the pipe kit, all you need are articles from around the house: a brown paper bag or brown wrapping paper, some wire, the width of the wire should be what will fit inside your pipe stem, so you can clean it of old tobacco residue after each smoke, and small branch from a tree that has a base as large as your pipe bowl.

If you want to make an authentic carrying bag for your pipe kit, you will need some homespun cotton material and some string. Keep the hanger around to pull the string through the bag.

During Civil War times, tobacco would be bought and sold wrapped in something like brown paper. The paper can be waxed. Measure and cut the brown paper to any size to make a square pouch. A useable size is 12" by 12" for a perfect square. Fill with about 2 tablespoons of tobacco and fold into a packet. Stamp "Richmond Depot 1861" on it or some other Civil War manufacturer and the date of the battle you are reenacting to make it more authentic.

For your pipe tamper, smooth the branch down with sand paper to remove any debris that might get into your pipe. Hone it down and make any type of smooth surface you want. Try it out in your pipe.

Measure and cut the wire to about 10" or so. Twist the end into a small handle by wrapping around a dowel, so you can grasp it to clean out your pipe.

Making a homespun cotton bag is simple. Fold, cut and measure the material, so that it is about 3-4" wider than the pipe and about 2-3" longer. Fold inside out and sew edges. Sew a fold around the top and use the remainder of your hanger to pull a regular piece of string through to have a way to close the bag. Stencil "Tobacco" or some other Victorian saying on it to make it more authentic looking.

For an additional detail, look for a camp hat which in modern times we call smoking hats. Camp hats were made of soft material and fit comfortably on their heads when they were in camp. Sometimes they had a tassel or fancy decorative item on them.

For more information on making items for your Civil War haversack, send an email to

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About the Author

Coach McCoach has been creating patterns and making Civil War haversack items for 25 years. His Civil War uniform designs have been seen in the movies GETTYSBURG, Antietam Visitors Center, ANDERSONVILLE. Coach's famous Civil War cookbook HARDTACK, CORNBREAD AND CHILI contains recipes for reenactments as well in your own home kitchen. For more information, contact

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