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MODEL 1879 WHITMAN SADDLE BAGS – A VERY NICE SELECTION OF A KEY PIECE OF INDIAN WAR CAVALRY EQUIPMENT:  A necessary piece of horse equipment to complete your saddle display, these sets of Model 1879 Whitman Saddlebags have survived in remarkably nice condition.  Introduced with the other Horse Equipments recommended by the Cavalry Board of 1879, while the saddles apparently were not made or issued in any great numbers, these unique saddle bags gained a substantial acceptance in the field. 

They were used not only with the Whitman saddles, but with the McClellan Saddles - Models 1874 and 1885 - available in the field at the same time, as evidenced by known period photographs such as this image of a cavalry soldier in the 6TH US Cavalry serving in the Arizona Territory in the 1880’s.  He is mounted on what appears to be a Model 1885 McClellan Saddle, and he is equipped with a pair of Model 1879 Experimental (Canvas Version) Saddle Bags – solid period evidence that these Model 1879 Saddle Bags were issued concurrently with equipment from other model-years.


Any of the Indian War era saddlebags have become difficult to find, particularly in the condition of the sets of bags offered here.  Considering the rarity and expense of the Model 1874 and Model 1885 Saddlebags, these sets of Model 1879 Saddlebags are priced very reasonably and will be very appropriate for displaying on your Indian War McClellan. 

I currently have the following sets of saddle bags in stock and each set is described and priced individually below with accompanying photographs.  


SET NO. 1   MODEL 1879 WHITMAN SADDLE BAGS:  Both of the bags are notably in very good condition with full pliable outer flaps complete with all of the full length closing billets and buckles, the exterior pouches on the faces of the bodies are complete and intact, and the gussets, commonly found split or torn, are fully intact, smooth and very pliable.  All of the brass hardware, to include the belly strap rings at the bottom of each bag, is present and intact.  The flaps are both embossed with faint, but legible "US” in the ovals.  The original lacing around the top of the left side bag which secured the interior liner is full length and present.   

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, both brass footloop reinforcement plates, and the round brass reinforcement plate in the center of the span.  There is also a slot cut above each of the footloop slots – a commonly seen soldier executed field modification seen on these bags.  As the footloop slots on the Model 1879 Saddlebags were situated for the foot loops on the Whitman Saddles, when these bags were used on the McClellan Saddles the footloop slots did not necessarily match up with the footloops on the cantle of the McClellan saddles.  In order to secure these bags on a McClellan, a second set of footloop slots had to be cut that would match those on the saddle.  The yoke shows evidence of wear and age, with the surface crazed with some flaking, but the leather is supple and intact.  There is a legible early style ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL stamp in the “rising sun” cartouche outline on the yoke, just above the left bag. 

There is a point of minor wear in the upper right hand corner of the left side bag body that has been repaired with a reinforcing piece of leather applied to the inside of the bag.  The repair is well done and not unsightly.  There is some light worm tracks on the outer surface of the bags and flaps, but it is very minor, and overall the bags retain the original pebble grain finish with a nice bright sheen. 

Although showing some signs of use and age, this set is still very attractive and in very good condition, and will definitely enhance your cavalry display. (1049)  $850



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