Arming And Equipping The US Cavalry 1865-1902

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Kurt Hughes
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Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:22 am

<b>Arming and Equipping The United States Cavalry 1865-1902
By Dušan P. Farrington</b>

Published by Andrew Mowbray Publishers.

Firstly I must say I have tried to look at this book from a non-biased view, as the Author is a very good friend of mine.

The copy I have is one of a few early copies, which I managed to obtain from Stuart Mowbray at “Man at Arms” for which I am very grateful. Though I believe the book is now available.

My first impressions are that it is well presented, easy to use and most informative with much new research. The book is very well indexed, with extensive “Notes and References” and “Bibliography” which is always a great help to the researcher/collector.

The book is large hard back with a colour dust cover showing some arms and accoutrements. Importantly for a book of 600 pages that will see much use, it is very well bound.

The illustrations are black and white, which although colour is sometimes nice I tend to think that black and white are sharper for detail. The period photographs have been very well reproduced to help illustrate detail, a job well done by the publisher.

The book is divided into six chapters each dealing with the development, production, testing and redesigning etc. of arms and then their support accoutrements during each time period examined. This is well supported in many ways, such as by the use of tables, reports, commentary or anecdotes. These are a personal favourite of mine in the book, the accounts of use brings the accoutrements or weapons to life, such as Capt. Keyes having to borrow forty revolvers for an inspection, or Maj. Hardin experiencing problems with his sharps during an engagement. These are used to a greater extent in chapter 5, as they are drawn from the records of the 1884 Cavalry board.
The tables mentioned above are a useful source for not only showing which arms and accoutrements were in use but they also show the duty stations of many companies or troops of the entire 10 regiments at a given date. This is information that is not often found in one single publication.

The book may seem slightly unbalanced as Chapter 5 is far larger than the other chapters, but there is a reason for this as it contains much new information on previously lesser covered areas of cavalry arms and equipment. For example the Hotchkiss carbines are covered including a near complete listing of serial numbers.
Development and production of early Mills belts is also strongly detailed in this chapter, this includes a look at the very first contract with the legendary Mills. Including those belts with coloured edges, even an example of the actual yellow yarn sent to Gen. Benet in 1881 for approval is shown (perhaps the one time colour would have been useful).
With the introduction of the Mills belt into a previously well thought out accoutrement system brought unforeseen implications and these are examined in detail (including discussion of the number and placement of eyelets in these belts) in the accoutrement section.

Chapter 6, “Beyond the Borders” covers the period from 1890-1902, included is an in depth examination of one particular carbine that saw service in the SAW as well as the detail of the development, trials, adoption and assessment of the smaller calibre carbines and revolvers and their accoutrements that were carried into the new century.
Of interest was the Mills belt re-dying fiasco, which was news to me and is something that I had not seen published before now.

Carbine slings and sockets are also covered in the book and of particular interest to me the carbine boots, which are examined in Chapter 5 along with carbine scabbards in Chapter 6, I must say there is some very interesting information on this subject with some great period pictures of early example carbine scabbards in use.

The author does not claim to give us all the answers on every item but in my view comes close to providing them, as mentioned before the extensive “Notes and References” provide a pointer as to where information has been gained. He is not shy of encouraging the reader where possible to add any factual content or interpretations.

In a week of having the book I had used it a number of times to research various pieces and consider it very good value for money.

Personally I do not hesitate in saying that this book sits proudly along side such books as Randy Steffen's "The Horse Soldier" series, "US Military Holsters and Pistol Cartridge Boxes" by E.S. Meadows and "Army Blue" by Langellier.

Kurt.
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Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:34 am

Kurt,
Thank you for my very first review. I'm glad you feel it has been worth all the trouble you undertook to obtain an early copy. I hope you will continue to enjoy and find it useful.

The cheque's in the mail!

Dušan
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Pat Holscher
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Sun Jan 09, 2005 4:57 pm

I'm certain that more than one reader here would like to know where they can purchase a copy, so I'd request that this information might be posted here. I intend to buy a copy, and I'm sure others would like to know where they can.

Pat
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Sun Jan 09, 2005 6:01 pm

Hi Pat,
Thanks for your interest in the book.
It is available from Mowbray Publishing Inc. who publish "Man at Arms" magazine. Details can be found on their web site :

http://manatarmsbooks.com/farrington.html

or by phone 1-800-999-4697.

Hope that if you decide to obtain a copy you will find it interesting and useful.

Dušan
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Pat Holscher
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Sun Jan 09, 2005 10:06 pm

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Trooper</i>
<br />Hi Pat,
Thanks for your interest in the book.
It is available from Mowbray Publishing Inc. who publish "Man at Arms" magazine. Details can be found on their web site :

http://manatarmsbooks.com/farrington.html

or by phone 1-800-999-4697.

Hope that if you decide to obtain a copy you will find it interesting and useful.

Dušan
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Thanks Dusan, I'm really looking forward to receiving my copy and reading it.

Pat
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Pat Holscher
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Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:59 pm

Wow. Having received my copy, and having examined every page a couple of times, I think Dusan has not only covered the topic, but has written what will be the permanently definative work on it.

Excellent job Dusan.

Pat
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Thu Mar 10, 2005 8:54 am

Congratulations, Dusan.

My copy finally arrived two or three days ago. We are frantically busy right now, but I have found time to read a few chapters in the evening. Well done!

I don't collect firearms or most accutrements, and am fairly ignorant of them. Nevertheless, the skillful interweaving of history and material culture -- what they used, and how and when they used it -- held my attention and kept me turning the pages. Those areas where I do know something and have examples in my collection, such as sabers, are full of new information interestingly presented. The illustrations are very good and well fitted to the text.

Of great importance, the chapter headings and above all the index are detailed and easy to use. In this way, Dusan has avoided one of the most common major failings of "collector" books. It is maddening to have several hundred pages of information at hand, with no finding aids. Dusan's finding aids are quite effective.

As a book collector (or maybe book accumulator is more accurate -- 2k to 3k books filling all sorts of unexpected places in our house)I can say with certainty that the physical qualities of the book, its binding, layout, hand and readability, are good. This is not an art book, a coffee table volume, or a "fine edition" volume, nor is it meant to be. However, in physical respects it occupies a space that is higher than normal for reference books. It is solid, attractive and easy on the eyes.

In sum, Arming and Equipping the United States Cavalry, raises the bar for collector reference books. It is a full-featured carefully researched reference text, as a scholar would understand the term, while also being physically attractive and an interesting read. It doesn't get much better than that.

Cheers!

Joe
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Thu Mar 10, 2005 6:01 pm

Pat, Joe,

[:I]

Dušan
Bob Rea
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Fri Mar 11, 2005 12:42 pm

I got my copy of your book yesterday. Amazing compilation. Looks like the last word on the subject.
I was looking at it when a visitor came up and wanted to buy it. I told him it was the site's library copy and how he could order one.
Thanks for the mention but when you reprint you might take the National out of my site's name. We are just a lowly state run entity.

Bob Rea
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Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:16 pm

Bob,
Hope you enjoy the book.
I am sorry about the misnomer. I guess it was my subconscious wish to see your good work properly appreciated.

Dušan
Bob Rea
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Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:02 am

Just out of curousity, are you thoroughly exhausted after a work of that scope? Will you attempt another such project?

Bob Rea
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Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:30 am

Hi, Bob,
To your first question the answer is emphatically yes.
To your second I fully intend attempting two similar examinations of the 1833-1865 and 1900-1920ish periods. However it will probably take quite a while as research for both these periods seems particularly challenging as original documents for both these periods seem much harder to locate. This is something I find puzzling for the later period - as an example I am informed that the records of the Cavalry Board for say 1900-1920 are "missing" from National Archives. This kind of check to research is something I find very difficult to circumvent at this distance from the resources.
So I guess what I am really saying is "don't hold your breath"!

Dušan
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Mon Mar 14, 2005 9:43 am

Dusan:

In your work, have you turned up much about bridles? They are a small but dark hole in scholarship. In the post-1859 era, in theory there were ~ 10 issue or experimental cavalry riding bridles. Yet odd variants keep turning up. Some are artillery items, and some are undoubtedly Q-master or infantry officer items, etc. Some are anyone's guess. Yet there is no reliable reference guide available. Even if you hav no plans to publish, some of us would be most interested in any tidbits you find.

BTW, presume you are familiar with the the Army archives at Carlysle, Penn.? I have never dealt with them, but others on the forum are familiar with the place and processes. The Quartermaster Museum at Ft. Lee, VA has extensive archives of specifications, drawings and photographs. Couvi might be able to outline where else Army archives are likely to be, and how you might get access.

Joe
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Tue Mar 15, 2005 1:17 pm

Hi Joe,
You will appreciate that the focus of my inquiries was not tack related excepted in the matters of carbine/rifle or sabre attachment and carriage. Thus I have almost no knowledge of historic usages of bits/bridles. However in the questionnaire sent out by the 1884 Cavalry Board, from which I extracted opinion concerning arms and accoutrements, there was a section of 16 (I think) questions headed "Horse Equipments". The questions certainly contained discussion of all tack including two I believe on bridles which also had comment on bits and bitting. I think the questionnaire represents the single most important expression of opinion and information concerning nineteenth century cavalry matters from the "horses mouth" as it were, from almost a complete polling of the cavalry corps as most serving officers sent in returns. The Papers of the Board are available on microfilm and are an invaluable resource for anyone interested in US Cavalry matters. I am certain you would find much of interest in the responses concerning all tack matters as the officers are in some cases quite senior and have seen a lot of service in previous decades with earlier equipment. Almost every return will have something to say about saddles, stirrups, saddlebags, saddle cloths or blankets, bridles, or bits. I did not study this material except superficially and do not have the records, so I am only able to give this cursory overview, but wholeheartedly recommend the material to anyone interested.

Thanks for the further research suggestions. I am familiar with Carlisle but hadn't thought of the QM museum which I will check out. Any other suggestions or leads will be most welcome.

Dušan
Sam Cox
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Tue Mar 22, 2005 12:09 am

Im trying to find a copy downunder??anyone ??
How about the the 1920 to 1946 period??
Regards
Sam

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Pat Holscher
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Tue Mar 22, 2005 10:53 pm

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Sam Cox</i>
<br />Im trying to find a copy downunder??anyone ??
How about the the 1920 to 1946 period??
Regards
Sam

Sam Cox
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Is it possible to order a book through Amazon from a foreign site? That is, can you log on to US Amazon and order a book shipped to Australia?

If so, I'd like to order the book about Curtan's Cowboys from Australia. I wonder if that is possible.

Pat
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Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:26 pm

Pat
send me your mailing adress and i will get something of to you after the Easter weekend
Regards
Sam

Sam Cox
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Pat Holscher
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Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:17 pm

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Sam Cox</i>
<br />
Pat
send me your mailing adress and i will get something of to you after the Easter weekend
Regards
Sam

Sam Cox
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I'll email you off line, but perhaps an international book exchange might be in order.

Pat
elcutachero Φ
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Mon Apr 18, 2005 2:55 pm

Got this in on Saturday and have been picking at it since. My only beef is it hurts my tummy from propping it up.[;)]
Seriously though, I am thoroughly impressed with this work. I have been collecting and researching accoutrements and individual equipment of the twentieth century for the last forty some years and have consulted many of the same archives.
Over the years, the late William G. Phillips and I wrote, individually, or together, many articles on these subjects, especially the definitive articles on oblate spheroidal canteens, and first aid packets and pouches up throough WWII. Bill and another author did an authoritative study on the Single Action Army holsters.
I confine myself to items used post 1900 while Bill went back further and did search out nineteenth century sources. I am still gathering items issued today while he stopped in 1945.
I am looking forward to learning about the nineteenth century arms which I know little of, especially the Hotchkiss, and to increase my basic sketchy knowledge of woven belts post 1870s which led to the later pocketed belts.
All in all, highly impressed indeed.[:p]
El Cutachero

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Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:01 pm

M. Farrington,
I have some specific questions as to your work. I was unable to discover any biographical data in the book. Of course, if you wish to keep it to yourself, that is understandable.
As to your research, I see you have thoroughly mined the National Archives files and contacted many first rate scholars. How long did it take to assemble your sources? How many trips to the US did you have to make? This of course, is a labor of love, there is no way you could ever recoup the time and effort spent in monetary terms.
Again,congratulations on a thorough work of research.

El Cutachero
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