Civil War M1859 McClellan Officers Saddle and Original Civil War Officers Cavalry Headstall, M1863 Brass Faced Artillery Bit and Reins

Civil War M1859 McClellan Officers Saddle and Original Civil War Officers Cavalry Headstall, M1863 Brass Faced Artillery Bit and Reins: The McClellan saddle was a riding saddle designed by George B. McClellan, a career Army officer in the U.S. Army, after his tour of Europe as the member of a military commission charged with studying the latest developments in engineer and cavalry forces, including field equipment. Based on his observations, McClellan proposed a design that was adopted by the Army in 1859. The McClellan saddle was a success and continued in use in various forms until the US Army’s last horse cavalry and horse artillery was dismounted during World War II. The design of this saddle was based on the Spanish tree saddles in wide use in the United States at the time, and which had seen US Army use, although McClellan claimed that it was based on Hussar saddles he’d observed in use in the Crimean War. While McClellan did go overseas and observe the Crimean War for the US, the saddle does not closely duplicate any pattern in use by the armies in that conflict, but is very close to the widely used Spanish tree saddle, which was originally a saddle in common use in Mexico. The design underwent modifications over time, although in many ways it remained remarkably unchanged. The saddle was simple and less expensive than existing saddles, light enough not to burden the horse, but sturdy enough to give good support to the rider and his gear. It supported a rawhide-covered open seat, a thick leather skirt and hooded wooden stirrups.

This example of the M1859 McClellan Officers saddle is in excellent condition. Its rawhide tree, as with most Civil War McClellan Officers saddles, was covered with black bridle leather, with the open seat covered with russet brown leather. The skirts and sweat leathers are also black leather, and exhibit ornate tooling. The cantle and pommel are bound in brass, and all original brass blanket slots or guides remain in place. The original hooded stirrups are in fine condition. Accompanying this saddle is an original Civil War officer’s cavalry headstall, with the forehead and nose straps finished in yellow enamel. At either end of the forehead strap are hard, composite yellow stars. Dragoon style brass buckles are on the headstall, and the original reins are affixed to the bit. This is one clean, but reparable break in the reins, at the junction of the safes where the rein attaches to the bit ring. The bit is the M1863 brass faced, artillery bit, often used by Union officers during the war. The bit is maker marked and stamped “US”, with both original intertwined USA bosses in place. The brass facing on the bit is in superior condition. This is an excellent example of a Civil War officer’s saddle, accompanied by a rarely found headstall, reins and bit. SOLD


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