Reference Items
Model 1859 McClellan Saddle

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Shown is an early Civil War Model 1859 McClellan saddle.

Regulations for the 1859 pattern called for sweat leathers, stirrup hoods, unspaded "D” rings (which suspend the girth straps) and did not require contractor’s markings.  The tree design also featured a more vertical pommel than later saddles.

The brass shield on the pommel of this saddle is marked "3" denoting the large 12” size cantle.  Also soldier inscribed in the brass shield in block letters is "76 K."  The pommel is pierced with a mortise which is protected by a brass plate on the front.  The uniform coloration, usage, and condition of all its leather mountings indicate that they are original to each other.  The sweat leathers show some use, both have all the stirrup strap loops present, but the sweat leathers are likely added to the rig. The stirrups are solid, with strong wooden frames that have no splits or damage and each is equipped with its hood as per regulations for the Model 1859.

The rawhide which covers the saddle tree is complete with no splits on the visible surfaces, and has a pleasant aged, caramel color. The skirts are in full form and supple, and the saddle bag retaining straps are intact on both of the skirts. The quarter straps and girth straps are full length.This saddle is pictured with saddle bags in place.  It also carries the correct carbine thimble attached to the offside D ring.  The cantle has three coat strap mortises which are protected by brass oval guard plates fastened to the seat with brass nails.  The front quarter-straps are attached to the pommel arc with two rivets and a hooked stud at the top center.

These saddles draw their name from their original designer, George McClellan who obtained approval from the US Army for his design in 1859.  With a few modifications along the way, the McClellan saddle remained in use by the US military until its last cavalry units were dismounted in World War II.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-258

Model 1859 McClellan Saddle Bags

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These Model 1859 McClellan saddlebags were made by C.S. Storms of New York City and are strongly marked thus on the flap of the left bag. In 1862 Storms moved from St. Louis to New York City. He had a number of government contracts for a variety of leather accoutrements.

It is unusual to see a pair of bags in this minty condition as they continued to be used by the cavalry and state militias following the Civil War into the 1870s. Subsequently the M1872 brush and shoe pouches were made from disassembled M1859 saddlebags, further reducing their surviving numbers.

Experts believe that today, fewer bags exist in any condition than do specimens of the saddles for which they were intended. This set is complete including both closing straps, tie down straps, and buckles. The interior bags with leather closing thongs are supple and present.

Saddlebags had a wide variety of uses by cavalry troopers during the Civil War. Among them, it is speculated that their original purpose was to carry extra, pre-fitted horseshoes so that a cavalry expedition need not be delayed while awaiting the services of the regimental farrier.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-249

Model 1864 McClellan Enlistedman's Saddle

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C. (Condit) Prudden was a saddle tree maker during the Civil War located next door to R. (Rueben) Nece (master saddle maker). He was located at 1120 Noble Street in Philadelphia. He had a four-story building with the equipment powered by steam, and with thirty employees he had the capacity to turn out approximately 1,200 finished saddle trees per week. Prudden probably partnered with Nece in the turning out of finished saddles.

Presented here is one of his saddles, a Model 1864 McClellan enlistedman’s saddle. Prudden’s brass tag is affixed to the left front of the tree. This saddle has nearly all of its original rawhide covering and both full skirts. The quarterstraps are original and complete. The original stirrup straps are fitted with the original sweat leather and hooded stirrups. The brass seat plaque indicates a "12 inch seat”.

There are a number of subtle differences between the Pattern 1859 and Pattern 1864 McClellan saddles: (1) the angle of the face of the pommel on the 1864 is not as vertical as on the 1859; (2) the 1864 tree is assembled with rivets and screws as opposed to cut nails and washers; (3) the cantle plate was moved from the rear of the cantle in the 1859 to the front of the cantle in the 1864 (this change can be detected by a magnet); (4) the 1864 has a "spaded D-Ring” or "stopped D-Ring” on the lower girth straps; (5) the 1864 added the manufacturer’s name and address to a brass plate affixed to the top of the left front or rear sidebar. For further information of Civil War Saddles we recommend "American Military Saddle, 1776-1945” by R. Stephen Dorsey & Kenneth L. McPheeters.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-244

Massachusetts Officer's Belt Rig

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This minty officer's belt rig is accompanied by its original 1851 pattern Massachusetts belt plate. The black saddle leather belt is 1¾" wide and in fine condition with minor edge rubs resulting from use. The shoulder harness is in place; the leather tab inside the carry hook, often missing, is also present and is original to the belt. All hooks and keepers are brass displaying a mellow patina.

The cast brass belt plate is adorned by the Massachusetts state seal, which maintains its sharp edges and well defined relief. Both the plate and its clasp are original to the belt. The plate matches figure #92 in Plates & Buckles of the American Military by Kerksis.

State versions of these belt setups were worn by pre-war militia officers, and saw continued use through the civil war, having been privately purchased by officers who were loyal to their home states. The retention of the shoulder strap, as evidenced by period photographs, seems to indicate cavalry service by the officer who owned this saber belt.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-223

Cavalry Saber Belt Rig

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This belt rig is a regulation Union cavalryman’s buff leather saber belt with rectangular eagle buckle and applied silver wreath. The belt is complete with both saber hanger straps, and the shoulder support strap which is often absent. The buff leather is dyed black on the exterior per 1851 Army regulations, now toned to a russet brown.  The interior of the belt is not dyed.  It was likely unissued and bears a near mint belt plate and keeper, both bench marked "442". The plate has an integral tongue and one-piece nickel silver wreath applied to the face and shows no wear.  This style eagle motif was approved in December 1863 and these plates were made from 1864-1865.

All brass accessories are original including the carry hook, two brass D-ring suspension rings which are stitched and riveted to the belt exterior, and the large square suspension ring that supports the long saber strap, also stitched and riveted in place. A clear maker mark is visible on the inside, "Crossman/Maker/Newark N.J.” for Edwin A. Crossman & Company of Newark. Crossman was a New Jersey harness maker who had multiple contracts for accoutrements, including 5,000 saber belt rigs.

Buff leather accoutrements were phased out during the war years and were gradually replaced by bridle leather counterparts.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-183

Buff Leather Belt & Buckle

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Buff leather infantry belt with oval U.S. belt plate. The plate has arrow style hooks, and the brass belt keeper remains intact. This rig is in fine original condition with no wear to the leather. Both the buckle and keeper are original to the belt.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-167

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