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MODEL 1874 SADDLEBAGS – VERY NICE SET – UNIT IDENTIFIED:   One of the more difficult early Indian War Cavalry pieces to locate in any condition, this particularly nice set of Model 1874 Saddle Bags is complete with all the billets, buckles and pouch ties. 

This set shows some use, but no abuse nor any significant damage. The leather is very live and supple, and still retains an overall smooth shiny surface.  The outer flaps, bodies, gussets and the inner pockets attached to front of the main compartments on both sides show very little evidence of wear or aging.  All seams are tight and intact, all the billets are full length and supple, and all the buckles and standing loops are present.  The off side bag has the sewn in linen liner.  The near side bag has had all four of the tin buttons removed which were sewn at the mouth of the bag to mount the linen liner.  This near side bag was intended to carry the soldier’s rations and I suspect that the liners typically became soiled to the point of revulsion and with it discarded, the soldier removed the buttons rather than having them there to snag on the contents.  The two outer covers are stamped with the “US” in the oval, somewhat lightly stamped but still legible.   

The seat is solid with the saddle bag stud hole and both standing loop key tabs intact.  There were two additional slots cut in the seat during its period of use to accommodate the continued use of these bags on a saddle where the foot loops were located in a different position than on the Model 1874 McClellan Saddle, such as the Model 1879 Whitman or the Model 1885 McClellan.  This sort of modification is very characteristic of the Indian Wars horse equipment, as the equipment continued to be used due to fiscal restraints.  There are four very well executed repairs on the underside of the seat to points along the edges where the leather was worn.  These very solid repairs are blended well to the surrounding leather and are only visible from the underside of the seat and do not show when the bags are displayed.     

Of special interest is the arsenal stamping on the seat or leather connecting the two bags, “U.S. ARSENAL BENICIA”, as the production of horse equipment at Benicia was quite small as compared to Watervliet and Rock Island.  The seat is also stamped with a “6” or a “9”, depending on how the numeral is viewed, as a single stamp was used for both characters.  Applied as unit identification marks, the numerals indicate that this set of bags was issued within the 6TH or 9TH Regiments of U.S. Cavalry.  Both regiments were active in the American Southwest in the New Mexico and Arizona Territories, and those regions were supplied and supported by the Benicia Arsenal.   

The scarcity of early Indian War horse equipment cannot be overstated and many specimens that do exist show considerable wear, aging and damage.  This set of Little Big Horn era saddle bags has survived in remarkable condition and in addition to being a scarce piece of equipment which will never need to be upgraded, this set of Model 1874 Saddle Bags is a treasured addition to any Indian War collection.   SOLD



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