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MODEL 1874 McCLELLAN SADDLE GIRTHS – SCARCE FIRST PATTERN WITH EARLY PRODUCTION CHARACTERISTICS – WATERVLIET ARSENAL MARKED:  As shown and discussed on pages 239 through 241 of American Military Saddles, 1776-1945, and direct from the research collections of the authors, these First Pattern Model 1874 McClellan Saddle Girths exhibit the characteristics of those girths made at Watervliet Arsenal for the early production sets of Model 1874 Horse Equipments. 

Through our research, and noting the characteristics of  several surviving specimens, we found that while Ordnance Memoranda No. 18 called for the Model 1874 Girth to be made with 7.5” wide linen webbing, like so many other new pieces of equipment adopted during the Indian War era, the financially constrained Ordnance Department was forced to use up existing stocks before new materials could be purchased or new designs produced.  Hence, these First Pattern Model 1874 Girths were manufactured with the 5” wide linen webbing; simply to use up the remaining stock before the wider 7.5” material could be purchased. 

Identifiable by the dimensions of the leather safes at each end, the safes on these First Pattern girths extend past the “D” ring and roller buckles on the ends of the girth to protect the horse from wear by the hardware as was shown in the diagrams in Ordnance Memoranda No. 18.  In contrast, the safes on the Model 1872 Girths were cut so that the extreme edges of the hardware lay right at the outer edge of the leather safe, and were in a position to come in contact with the horse’s skin with the possibility of creating sores due to rubbing.   

These girths are excellent examples of the Custer-era horse equipment, and are especially important as testimony to the Ordnance Department’s economical use of materials on hand.  One of these Model 1874 First Pattern Girths will be a significant addition to your Indian War Cavalry collection.   

I currently have the following girths in stock and each one is described and priced individually below with accompanying photographs.  

 

NO. 1  MODEL 1874 McCLELLAN SADDLE GIRTH – SCARCE FIRST PATTERN WITH EARLY PRODUCTION CHARACTERISTICS – MARKED WATERVLIET ARSENAL:  Showing no evidence of use, and having survived in remarkable condition, this early production, First Pattern Model 1874 Girth is an excellent specimen.    

The leather safes on each end and the reinforcement strap across the center have a bright, smooth surface with no crazing or loss of finish.  The nearside safe is legibly stamped “WATERVLIET ARSENAL” in the center of the “D” ring, and the large buckle chape on the offside safe bears the inspector initials “ARS”. The linen webbing has alternating blue and buff stripes.  There is no wear or moth holes, but there are two small hand stitched repairs immediately adjacent to the reinforcement strap and both appear to be old, period repairs that do not detract from the overall appearance of the girth.   Measuring 27” long and 5” wide, the girth is full length and retains its full form.  (1013) $425  

 

NO. 2  MODEL 1874 McCLELLAN SADDLE GIRTH – SCARCE FIRST PATTERN WITH EARLY PRODUCTION CHARACTERISTICS – MARKED WATERVLIET ARSENAL:  Showing no evidence of use, and having survived in remarkable condition, this Model 1874 Girth is not only an excellent specimen, but it serves as evidence of the production methods practiced at the Watervliet Arsenal.  This is the exact girth shown and discussed in great detail in The American Military Saddle, 1776-1945 on page 239-241 (Figures 3 & 4, page 239).   

This particular Model 1874 Girth was acquired with a First Pattern Model 1874 McClellan Saddle in the 1970’s in upstate New York at a private garage sale.  At the time, the saddle and all the related accessories were still packed in the original wooden shipping crate which was stenciled “WATERVLIET ARSENAL”.  The saddle’s two girth strap safes, both of the stirrup hoods, and the nearside safe on this girth were all stamped with Civil War contractor’s cartouches, evidence that all of these leather pieces were cut from obsolete Civil War accoutrements such as rifle cartridge boxes.  The use of obsolete Civil War equipment held in inventory at the arsenals for the manufacture of any number of Indian War accoutrements, saddle components, rifle slings, and a variety of other equipment is well documented, and surviving pieces that resulted from that recycling effort such as this girth are quite interesting.   

The offside leather safe and the reinforcement strap across the center have a bright, smooth surface with no crazing or loss of finish and the safe is stamped with the inspectors’ initials “GM” and “ARS”.  The nearside safe is crazed, but has not suffered any surface loss, and it is stamped with the Civil War contractor’s cartouche “C.S. STORM/MAKER/NEW YO(RK)” in the upper right corner, as well as a barely visible “WATERVLIET ARSENAL” just inside the curve of the “D” ring.   The body of the girth features linen webbing that is one of the known variations in the color schemes, having wide yellow/brown stripes and narrow blue stripes.  There is no wear, no moth holes, and all the stitching is intact.  Measuring 28.25” long and 5.75” wide, the girth is full length and retains its full form.  (1039) $450  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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