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MODEL 1859 CIVIL WAR McCLELLAN SADDLE BAGS – IDENTIFIED TO CIVIL WAR VETERAN  CAPTAIN ELIHU GRANT OF THE 3RD MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY  – A NICE SET WITH A HISTORICAL IDENTIFICATION:  A necessary piece of horse equipment to complete your saddle, this set of Model 1859 Saddlebags is in very respectable condition, with the added value of having been used by Civil War veteran Captain Elihu Grant who served as the company commander of Company C, 3RD Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  

There is little room for doubt that this set of Model 1859 Saddlebags were owned and  used by Captain Elihu Grant, as the set was accompanied by no less than four separate tags identifying them to Capt. Grant.  The earliest is a 5 ¼” by 2 ¾” shipping tag from the E.S. Brown Company in Fall River, Massachusetts, with the inscription written in pencil “Capt E Grant”.  The source of the tag is significant as the Captain was from Fall River and that is where he is buried.  The next tag in the progression is a 3” by 2 ½” manila tag with the inscription written with a fountain pen, “Civil War Saddle Bags used by Capt Grant Co C 3 Regt MVM -1862-“.  The next tag is a small well worn price tag style that appears to have been a collection inventory tag with a faint inscription, “CW Saddle Bags used by Capt Grant Co C 3 Regt MVM 1862”.  The last tag was affixed by the last collector who owned these saddle bags, repeating the same information on the other tags.  All of these tags will accompany the saddlebags.   

Very little research was required to confirm that Captain Elihu Grant was from Fall River, Massachusetts and was involved in raising the 3RD Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in 1862, eventually serving as the company commander of Company C.  Grant was born in either 1820 or 1825 – there are conflicting records – in Smithville, New York.  He is reported to have attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, but I could find no record that he graduated.  The March 24, 1860 edition of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper reported that Methodist minister Rev. Elihu Grant of Fall River, Massachusetts had been arrested for the embezzling of $4,000 from the Trenton Bank.  While no resolution to this criminal case could be found, apparently it did nothing to damage the reverend’s reputation or standing in the community as he served as the town clerk, treasurer, collector, served on the school committee, and continued to serve as the pastor of the Brayton, M.E. Church.   

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Grant was asked by the town of Fall River to raise a company of volunteers to fill the ranks of the 3RD Infantry Regiment, and once the company was formed, Grant was appointed as captain and he apparently served for the duration of the war.  More research would flesh out the balance of Grant’s life, but apparently he continued to serve as a religious leader as his headstone bears the title “Reverend”.  He passed away in 1897 at the age of 76 and he is buried in Fall River, Massachusetts.   

There is a persistent rumor that Elihu Grant is related to Ulysses S. Grant, General of the Army and President of the United States.  The familial connection is uncertain, however as I write this I have initiated a search of the Grant family genealogy to determine if this relationship is true.  If the relation to President Grant is confirmed, that information will be added here and will be provided to the eventual purchaser.    

These saddle bags have survived in very good condition with supple live leather throughout.  Both of the bags have full form outer flaps which are complete with the closing billets and buckles and the interior pouches are complete.  The interior pocket laces are present and full length, which is notable as these laces are normally missing entirely.  The gussets, commonly found split or torn, are fully intact, smooth and pliable, with only one small wear spot in the gusset on the rear edge of the left side bag.  All of the seams are intact.  The leather surfaces of the bags are overall smooth with a bright finish, with only some minor crazing.    

The seat, or yoke connecting the two bags that passes across the back of the saddle, is complete with both leather keys used to secure the saddlebags to the foot loops on the rear sidebar extensions of the saddle.  Quite often the seat on these bags are broken or torn, and separated at the saddlebag stud hole, a classic weak point as age, use and poor storage takes its toll.  The seat on this set of bags is still intact, strong and pliable, and as a result the bags will display quite well.   

The lower tie down strap and buckle is complete on the left hand bag.  The buckle and extension is present on the right bag, however the billet is missing.  The billet could be easily restored if the new owner so decides.  That these straps are present in any form is unusual, as so many of the surviving sets of saddle bags are missing these entire lower strap assemblies.  Either due to wear and age, or from being intentionally removed by the soldiers contemporary to the use of the bags as unnecessary when the bags were mounted on the saddle and all of the equipment that made up the cantle roll was in place secured by the coat straps, these straps just didn’t survive.   

Model 1859 Saddlebags in decent condition have never been easy to find, and sets with all of the components intact are outright rare.  Overall, this is a very respectable set of saddlebags with the added value of being identified to a Civil War veteran, and having survived in very good condition, they will definitely enhance the appearance and value of your Civil War or early Indian War McClellan Saddle.  SOLD



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