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Old South Military Antiques

Published 1st Model C.S. McClellan Pattern Saddle
Item #: OS-6704

The Richmond Arsenal[i]Confederate saddle shown here is attributed to the CS shops at Clarksville, Virginia. Clarksville is located in south-central Virginia, near the North Carolina border. The shops at Clarksville served as a major supply and manufacturing center for the Richmond Arsenal, manufacturing all manner of cavalry and artillery horse equipment. Between July 1, 1861, and January 1, 1865, the Richmond Arsenal supplied 69,418 cavalry saddles, 85,139 cavalry bridles, 75,611 cavalry halters, 35,464 saddle blankets, 59,624 pairs of spurs, 42,265 horse brushes and 56,903 curry combs. Most of these items were purchased from contractors or abroad, only about 25% were manufactured at the Arsenal itself.[ii]

There are several variations of saddles attributed to the Clarksville shops. The earliest Clarksville production saddles were made on the Jenifer pattern. In November 1863, the Clarksville shops began manufacturing the 1st Model, CS Pattern McClellan. The 1st Model McClellan was manufactured between November, 1863, and April, 1864.[iii]

The saddle shown here is one of the saddles produced at the Clarksville Shops for the Richmond Arsenal. It is a Confederate copy of the M-1859 McClellan Saddle, but differs in that the pommel escutcheons are zinc, instead of brass, the quarter straps are captured by a round, rather than a D-shaped iron ring, lack of foot staples, the use of iron screws and rivets, rather than brass rivets to attach the quarter straps and other minor differences in technique and material.[iv]

The saddle has the correct zinc CS shield[v]and correct zinc mortise escutcheons. The original rawhide seat is in good condition but has the natural wear at the back of the seat and an upper section of the tree’s right rear edge was broken during its period of use. The rider folded the rawhide over the broken edge and tacked it down in order to continue using it. The only issue of deterioration is that the shrinkage of the rawhide has split the stitching at the ends of the saddle pads.

The saddle skirts are attached with brass or copper screws and remain in excellent original condition. The quarter straps, the stirrup hangers and stirrups are original to the saddles period of use.[vi] All are in good and relatively flexible condition. Two of the zinc escutcheons are missing and four of the remaining escutcheons have only one iron tack, instead of two holding them in place. The zinc CS saddle shield is in very good condition and remains well affixed to the cantle with all three iron tacks.

Though the saddle is not in pristine condition, it is in remarkably good, original condition considering its scarcity and long, hard life.

This saddle was discovered in a Culpeper County, Virginia barn and is published on page 68 of Horse Equipment of the Civil War Era, by Crouch.

[i] Made in the CSA. Saddle Makers of the Confederacy, by Ken R. Knopp, pages 36, 121.

[ii] O.R. Series IV, Vol. 2, pages 955- 956.

[iii] Confederate Horse Saddles and Military Equipment, by Ken Knopp, page 68.

[iv] The American Military Saddle, 1775-1945, by Dorsey & McPheeters, pages 38-39.

[v] Made in the CSA. Saddle Makers of the Confederacy, by Ken R. Knopp, page 122.

[vi] The reason I use the term "period of use” is because these saddles were used for around fifty years after the War. I can tell whether leather is restored after its "period of use” but no one can possibly tell 1863 leather from 1883 leather.