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CIVIL WAR CAVALRY OFFICERS YELLOW ENAMELED LEATHER BREAST STRAP– A RARE SADDLE ACCESSORY IN EXCELLENT CONDITION:  This rare offering of a Yellow Enameled Breast Strap Assembly is a key piece to complete the display of a Civil War Cavalry Officer’s Saddle.  Given that there were fewer cavalry officers than there were infantry and artillery officers, fewer of these pieces were originally made, and then the hard service to which the cavalry officers’ equipment was exposed further limited the number of these attractive straps which exist today.   

The breast strap prevented the saddle from shifting to the rear, a real concern when the horse was ridden into the chaotic environment of the battlefield.    

The body of the breast strap is highlighted with yellow enamel and is surmounted in the center by a brass heart shaped shield measuring 2 ¾” wide and 3” high, which in turn is mounted on a heart-shaped black leather safe.  The strap measures 26” long on each side and is 3 ¼” wide at the widest point, narrowing to 1 ½” at each end.   

The breast strap securely attached to the saddle at three points.  Each end of the strap is fitted with a brass “D” ring to which is attached a standing loop doubled billet which mated with a buckle anchored on the saddle.  A third anchor point was provided with a heavy black leather 1” wide strap which is sewn beneath the heart-shaped safe and is designed so that it folds back on itself to engage a buckle and leather standing loop which passes between the horse’s front legs and secures the breast strap to the girth under the horse.  When the horse was being saddled, the girth and perhaps the surcingle was fed through this loop before being buckled to the saddle and this strap kept the breast strap from riding up the horse’s neck or falling below his shoulders.  

Exhibiting a high quality of workmanship, the breast strap is very well made of a double thickness of leather, the yellow enameled panels are sewed on top of the underlying layers, and the strap is edged in thin glove weight leather to finish the edges.  There is very little wear to the yellow enamel on the body of the breast strap.  The wear is limited to very minor crazing, but there is none of the heavy wear points where the yellow color was rubbed away as is so often seen on these rare survivors.  The underside of the strap is fully intact and all of the edging is intact and present.  There is little doubt this breast strap was used and saw some service, but it survived in remarkable condition.  Given the rarity of these cavalry officer’s saddle accessories, this level of wear is really inconsequential.  

This Cavalry Officer’s Breast Strap is the type of horse equipment that was not produced in large quantities to begin with, and those few that did survive field service and years of storage rarely appear on the market today, the majority resting quietly, and unattainable, in museums or in private collections.  This breast strap would be a stunning addition to your saddle, and it would elevate it to a center piece of a Civil War Cavalry Collection or a display of US Military Saddles.  (0518)  $1500



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