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MODEL 1859 CIVIL WAR McCLELLAN SADDLE BAGS w/ MODIFICATION FOR USE WITH THE MODEL 1868 McCLELLAN SADDLE:  A necessary piece of horse equipment to complete your saddle, this set of Model 1859 Saddlebags is in very good condition and exhibits evidence of continued use on the frontier after the Civil War on the Model 1868 McClellan Saddles

It has been noted that a number of the extant specimens of the Model 1868 Saddle do not have the saddle bag stud behind the cantle, and the absence of this stud appears to have been an intentional omission when the saddle was being refurbished with new quarterstraps and the brass molding was added.  It is believed that perhaps the brass molding reduced the clearance between the cantle and the saddle bag stud making it inaccessible, and was therefore omitted as unnecessary.  In order to compensate for the absence of the stud, and probably because it was easier than wrestling with lining up the foot loops on the saddle with the slots and retaining tabs on the saddlebag yoke, the soldiers simply made a cross shaped pair of cuts on each side of the yoke in line with the round equipment rings on the cantle.  The bags were then placed across the cantle, the rings easily pulled through the cuts and the cantle roll was then strapped in place over the saddle bag yoke securing the entire assembly in place.   

This set of bags feature these cruciform cuts on the yoke and they show evidence of use.  This modification has been noted in a few other existing sets of saddle bags, and is desirable evidence of frontier use, however it is a feature far from commonly found.  Most of the frontier issued bags were simply used to destruction, and those few that did survive to be returned to the Ordnance Depots were condemned to the trash pits due to the soldier applied modifications.  

In spite of this obvious evidence of issue and use, both of the bags are in notably very good condition with full outer flaps complete with the closing billets and buckles, the interior pouches are complete and intact, and the gussets, commonly found split or torn, are fully intact and very pliable.  The original interior pocket laces are present on both bags, an added value as these laces are normally missing entirely.  The leather surfaces all show age and some wear with the expected crazing to the surface in some areas, but there is no loss of finish and the crazing is limited to those areas subject to being bent or flexed.  All of the seams are intact. 

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.  The seat is intact with no tears or repairs which is unusual as this is a classic weak point.  As noted above, there are the soldier applied cuts which allowed the bags to be secured with the rear equipment rings.    

The lower tie down straps and buckles were intentionally cut off, probably during the period of use.  This is a commonly noted soldier modification, particularly in these sets which feature the cruciform cuts in the seat for the equipment rings, as those straps were no longer needed and the soldiers were quick to eliminate any unnecessary straps or billets which could become snagged or tangled in the other equipment on their horse.    

Model 1859 Saddlebags in respectable condition are becoming a very difficult Civil War saddle accessory to find on the market today, and those showing any evidence of field use that remain intact and are still worth owning are scarce indeed.  Overall, this is a very nice, attractive set of saddlebags with the added value of showing post Civil War frontier use.  That they have survived at all is notable to have survived frontier use in this condition is nothing short of remarkable and this set will definitely enhance the appearance and value of your Civil War or early Indian War McClellan Saddle. (0904)  $1500

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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