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CIVIL WAR MODEL 1859 McCLELLAN SADDLE GIRTHS – SEVERAL NICE SPECIMENS TO COMPLETE YOUR SADDLE:  An absolute necessity in order that the saddle remain on the horse, and the trooper retain his seat, the girth was one of the most critical pieces of equipment issued to the mounted soldier, and yet apparently very few girths that were issued with the McClellan Saddles during the Civil War and into the first years of western Indian Wars remained with the saddles as they passed into the post-service surplus market.  As a result, many of these historic saddles that exist today in collections are missing the girths.   

While the standard pattern Model 1859 Girth, as described in the Ordnance Department regulations, was manufactured with an indigo blue woolen webbing body, variations such as all leather girths or linen and leather girths, adhering in every way to the standard pattern save for the material of the body, are well known.  Though associated commonly with officer’s saddles, examples of these variant girths have been found on the Civil War and early Indian War Enlisted McClellan Saddles and they consistently lack the individual flavor associated with an officer’s private purchase saddle girth.   

I currently have the following girths in stock and each one is described and priced individually below with accompanying photographs.  

 

NO. 1  MODEL 1859 McCLELLAN SADDLE GIRTH – LINEN VARIANT:  A very interesting variant recently found in a large long established eastern collection, this Model 1859 McClellan Saddle Girth adheres to the regulation pattern in every way, save for the body of the girth being made of cream colored heavy linen cloth. 

Certainly either originally made by a civilian contractor during the Civil War with this linen body or later configured by an army saddler using the original safes and hardware, there is no doubt this girth was produced during the period of use of the Civil War and early Indian Wars McClellan Saddles.  This is evidenced by the presence of a legible US Government Inspector's stamp on the leather safe under the "D" ring.  The weave of the linen is very similar to that found in the material used to fashion the blue and yellow Model 1872 Girths, and as different color striping patterns are known to have been used on those girths, it is possible this girth is one of a few trial girths made up at the arsenals.  The stitching and assembly of this girth is very well done - typical of the quality of work done at the arsenals and far better than the work products of the unit level saddlers.

It is interesting to note that there is a wrapping of thread used to assemble the girth around one end of the linen webbing.  It is not stitched down and was obviously added to provide the soldier with a sufficient length to perform a repair in the field should it be necessary. 

Like so many anomalies in horse equipment and accoutrements which are found from the Civil War - Early Indian War era, there is no known documentation to support their existence or explain the reasoning behind the modifications, but nonetheless there is no doubt that the army was dedicated to improving the equipment issued to the soldiers and to that end, produced many pieces such as this girth which have yet to be fully understood. 

Measuring 20 Ύ” long and 4" wide, this girth is in excellent condition with all the components intact.  There are two separate straps of the linen webbing - a wide section forming the main body of the girth and a second narrower section overlaid on the wider section, probably done to strengthen the finished girth.  Both leather safes are full form with no weak points, the leather is still very strong and pliable, and the roller buckle and "D" ring are fully functional. 

This is an excellent piece of Civil War or Early Indian War Cavalry horse equipment, and one that was only recently discovered in an old collection.  A unique and interesting variant,  this girth would certainly complement your Civil War or early Indian War Cavalry saddle collection.  (0407) $650

 

NO. 2 MODEL 1859 McCLELLAN SADDLE GIRTH – LEATHER VARIANT:  Recovered from a relic Civil War McClellan Saddle, there is little doubt this girth was original to the period of use of the saddle either during the Civil War or during the early years of the western Indian Wars. 

While there is no known surviving record which explains the existence of these all leather girths on the standard issue saddles, it reasons that as the woolen bodies of the standard issue girths wore out, the leather billets, still in serviceable condition, were removed and used by the unit saddlers to make a replacement girth using a leather body.  These leather girths are not particularly common, but would be a correct addition for either a standard pattern Civil War McClellan, any of the officer's McClellan saddle patterns of the period, or one of the early Indian War McClellan saddles.  These all leather Model 1859 McClellan Saddle Girths are known to have continued in service with the frontier army through the early 1870’s.  

This particular girth closely resembles the girth pictured in Figure 5, page 235 of American Military Saddles, 1776-1945.   Like the one pictured in that reference, this girth is formed from a single piece of heavy black leather, however this specimen features additional buckle safes added to the ends of the body.  The roller buckles and billet loops are present and intact and the leather is still very strong and pliable.  Measuring the full 19” long and 3.25” wide and retaining the  full form, this is an excellent example of a scarce piece of Civil War Cavalry horse equipment that is missing from most collections and this girth would certainly complement your Civil War or early Indian War Cavalry saddle collection.  (0919) $450

 

NO. 3  MODEL 1859 McCLELLAN SADDLE GIRTH – LEATHER VARIANT:  A very good representative example of the all leather Model 1859 McClellan Saddle Girth, this girth closely resembles those pictured in Figure 5, on page 235 of American Military Saddles, 1776-1945.     

Like the ones pictured in that reference, this specimen is formed from a single piece of heavy black leather.  The nearside end still retains the roller buckle, billet loop and “D” ring – all present and intact.  The offside end has the buckle and billet loop, however the buckle is missing the tongue that engages the girth strap billet.  The absence of the buckle tongue is not particularly noticeable and for the purposes of display would be only a cosmetic concern.  Measuring 22” long and 3” wide, the body of the girth is very pliable and generally strong with a 1” separation directly below the nearside buckle and “D” ring chape.  This separation is limited, not traversing the full width of the girth, but is mentioned here for an accurate description.   

In spite of showing some signs of use and age, this is still a credible example of a scarce piece of Civil War Cavalry horse equipment that is missing from most collections and this girth would certainly complement your Civil War or early Indian War Cavalry saddle collection.  (0341) $220

 

NO. 4   CIVIL WAR ERA OFFICER'S SADDLE GIRTH:  This is an excellent  example of the all leather girths associated with the Civil War era Officer's Saddles.  

Similar to the ones pictured on page 235 of American Military Saddles, 1776-1945, this specimen is formed from a single piece of heavy black leather.  The nearside end is fitted with a large roller buckle and a billet loop – all present and intact.  The offside end is fitted with a large iron "D" ring.  Measuring 26” long and 3 ½” wide, the body of the girth is very pliable and shows very little evidence of use or wear. 

This is a very nice example of a relatively scarce Civil War Officer's Saddle Girth, one that is difficult to find on the loose.  This girth would certainly complement your Civil War or early Indian War Cavalry saddle collection.  SOLD

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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