The History of the McClellan Saddle - Capt Edward Davis

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Todd
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"History of the McClellan Saddle"
(click to view article)
by Capt. Edward Davis, 13th Cavalry
Journal of the United State Cavalry Association, page Vol XXII, No. 86, Sept 1911.

One of the marks of a professional officer is the study of his chosen military art, and the dissemination of knowledge gained. Or at least the approximation of that. Many of the early volumes of the Journal of the United State Cavalry Association are packed with articles written by junior officers, punching their 'publications' ticket. As with all such endeavors, the results could be hit-or-miss, some wonderful, others workmanlike and useful, others merely entertaining, and the usual filler pieces.

Capt. Davis' article in 1911 is significant to the historiography surrounding US military saddlery not so much for it's wealth of knowledge or data presented (which was fairly limited), but for it's influence on later students. His musings on the origins of the McClellan design are some of the first that attempt to connect George B. McClellan's observations and descriptions from his 'Crimea Report' as a member of the Delafield Commission. Given the same limited information that Capt Davis had access to, and following his logic, one can reasonably be swayed to give his theory as to the origins of the design. One of his key points is the perceived similiarity of the McClellan tree shape to that of the Cogent saddle system in use at the Saumur, which was illustrated in McClellan's report - shown below.

cogent_mcc_davis1911.PNG
cogent_mcc_davis1911.PNG (125.78 KiB) Viewed 643 times

The comparison is highly flawed, in that the Cogent system was significantly different than the McClellan, and additional drawings of this saddle from other sources show much less similiarity than the exploded view above. In certain views, any adequate hard-tree saddle will have natural similarities, as they were meant for the same animal conformation. Overall, the article is a mish-mash collection of bits of data, compiled and compacted into a brief article that doesn't definitively describe the origins, but does make some highly suggestive observations.


The true significance of Capt. Davis' article comes from its influence on subsequent researchers, some of whom took this initial assumption that the origin of the McClellan saddle design can be divined through study of McClellan's report and the European specimens described therein. Varying theories later argued the issue that the design was a minor adaptation of a European style, to a synthesis of European and frontier American elements. When later researchers expanded on Davis' sources, and collecting related information, you find the result in the synthesis of new data to the old hypothesis - 'McClellan brought some level of European influence into his design'.


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Todd
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Here is the reference to a much better discussion of the Cogent saddle system, which I believe would have countered Capt. Davis' theory had he been able to acquire this source.

Cavalry, Its History, Management, and Uses in War
Jean Roemer, D. Van Nostrand, New York, NY, 1863

https://play.google.com/store/books/det ... RYAAAAcAAJ

Direct link to discussion of Cogent saddle:
https://play.google.com/books/reader?id ... =GBS.PA489
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