Material Culture

L’inspiration de l’Europe – Part 1

For many years, I’ve seen in many sources comments about the horse equipment, especially saddles, being largely inspired by French hussar equipment.  That sort of discussion is informative, if you know what French hussar equipment looked like.  So began a longtime hit and miss search of foreign designs and influences on the horse equipment of …

Artifacts & Details

Civil War Saddle Tree Maker Plates

In 1863, the Ordnance department of the US Army was making numerous positive actions to improve the horse equipment acquisition process.  One of these efforts was concentrated on quality control of saddle trees – a product notoriously difficult to produce to specification on a mass scale.  All saddle trees were made using hand tools, so …

Horse Equipment

Campbell vs. McClellan

Of all the speculations about the design evolution of the McClellan military saddle, the clearest ‘progenitor’ is that of the Campbell cavalry saddle of 1855.  I don’t intend to delve into the various other theories here – that sort of debate can go on for far longer than most peoples attention span and patience!In 1855, …

Artifacts & Details, Horse Equipment, Material Culture, United States

US Civil War Federal Ranger Saddle

One of the real treats that occasionally happens for the student of old historical artifacts is the discovery of a true rarity.  Not just a hard-to-find item but an item that could be termed a ‘unicorn’ – so rare is it that there is no readily apparent logical reason that it should still exist.  Such …

Artifacts & Details

Civil War McClellan Pommel Shields

Like so many details of American military horse equipment, these details can be traced to European influences – even to the small small brass decorative fittings.  Pommel ornaments or ‘shields’ are a fixture of US military saddles going all the way back to the first Ringgold dragoons saddles (circa 1841-42).  Like so much of the …