The Model 1904 McClellan saddle
the mysterious workings of the military bureaucracy, the next version of the McClellan to
appear is known as the 1904 model McClellan, although the first ones produced were not
made until 1908, and they did not completely replace the previous pattern until WWI. Even
then, these first M1904's were M1904(I) saddles (russet) that were altered to the new
specifications, before true production of the new model began.
Click here to see
larger image of chart at right (67Kb)
The M1904 McClellan represents the last of the McClellans to use the
"quarterstrap" or "centerfire" rigging. This was again altered to
provide even more adjustability, and further increasing the bulk between the rider's leg
and the horse. The quarterstraps were terminated near the edges of the saddletree, and had
halter squares sewn into the ends. The cantle square hung slightly below the edge of the
saddletree, while the pommel square rested just above the edge. A long strap, with a
roller buckle and several loops, was run through these squares and the rigging ring in
such a way as to duplicate the arrangement of the M1896. Adjusting the length of the strap
could raise or lower the rigging ring, which could not be done with the M1896
Godfrey-style rigging. The rigging ring safe was now cut in a circle slightly larger than
the ring, held to the ring by the usual riveted loops.
There were a number of other small changes made as well. The stirrup loop was moved
forward on the tree to a position one inch from the rear edge of the pommel. The entire
undersurface of the saddle was covered with one-half inch thickness sheepskin. This was
first sewn to the bottom covers, after which the outer lower edge was sewn into the cover
seam when that was closed. This is by the regulation description of the saddle -
actual specimens show that many were made without this sheepskin. The rigging ring
safes were universally lined with sheepskin. The artillery version also used sweat
leathers, as shown
At this point, it is necessary to see that there had been quite a bit of change in the
McClellan, although the basic design is essentially the same. It would take an experienced
rider to tell any difference between the various models if they were to ride each. This
was the problem in many cavalry officers eyes, as the McClellan and its 1850s 'technology'
was being surpassed by superior designs, and changes in riding theory. The McClellan, with
its high cantle and pommel, promoted a rigid deep seat with little movement by the rider.
The rider was also forced to sit quite vertically, somewhat to the rear of the horses
center of motion. While not terribly bad, it was not nearly as preferable as the riding
techniques and it's related equipment being developed in Europe. To rectify this
situation, a new model was developed and tested, the Model 1912. Very much along the lines
of the British Universal Pattern service saddle, the 1912 represented a tremendously bold
experiment for the American cavalry equipments. Despite its thoroughly modern design and
construction it suffered from a technological problem that was unforeseen, namely that the
sheet metal seat frame tended to break. A new and relatively unorthodox
experimental version, referred to as the M1917 Enlisted saddle, was developed and
tested. Reviews and evaluations of this saddle were glowing and it appeared destined to
become the next service saddle.
Something New - Image of an
interesting experimental hardware setup on a M1904 circa 1918 - this was developed to
address the problem of heavy items, such as canteens, rifles & scabbards, etc., from
pulling the rings out of the saddletree (a very common problem)...never adopted. (images
courtesy RIA Museum).