The Model 1893 McClellan Saddle

1893_3In 1893, a little known version of the McClellan was tested and issued by the Rock Island Arsenal. This model used the M1885 saddle, with a new rigging system invented by Capt. Godfrey. This Godfrey rigging consisted of an interlocking arrangement of quarter straps which allowed the rigging ring to move freely, instead of being sewn in laps. The tightening of the cinch and rigging would hold the ring firmly in place. This allowed the saddle to be more easily fitted to the horse, making the whole design much more adjustable. The M1893 version used the M1885 rings and a shield shaped safe (squared top and rounded bottom). The safe was held with two riveted loops attached near the top corners. The two inside quarterstraps passed through these loops. In all other ways, the saddle is an M1885.

This rigging arrangement appeared to have been quite satisfactory as it was adopted. However, the supplies of civil war surplus saddletrees had finally become extremely small (thirty year later!) and something had to be done. Instead of merely reproducing the same design of the past forty years, which was not all that strong to begin with, the thoroughly modern Ordnance Department followed another track.

This system of rigging was undoubtedly used for some time previous to 1893, with some testing by Capt. Godfrey’s troop very likely, as well as some additional test units. The Rock Island Arsenal reported that this new rigging was adopted and started manufacture in 1893, based on “extensive testing” previous to that.