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CAVALRY BELT OF 1882 – AKA THE “SHERMAN” BELT – COMPLETE WITH THE PISTOL CARTRIDGE AND REVOLVER HOLSTER CARRIERS AND THE SABRE SLING STRAPS – AN EXCELLENT SPECIMEN OF A SCARCE INDIAN WARS BELT:  The Model 1882 “Sherman” Cavalry Belt was introduced at the insistence of General of the Army William T. Sherman in response to what he regarded as unnecessary and unauthorized modifications of the cartridge belts then in use by the frontier army.  Soldiers confronted with carrying a variety of accoutrements and equipment that was not designed to accommodate the wider cartridge belts modified the accoutrements and the belts in order to carry the equipment.   

With the introduction of the 1881 Mills Woven Cartridge Belt, Sherman’s fixation on the soldier executed modifications was given voice in an order issued by the general which specifically prohibited the carrying of any material or equipment on the cartridge belts other than cartridges.  All other equipment such as holsters, revolver ammunition, knives, and bayonets was to be carried on the leather belts currently issued to the troops.  The infantry and other foot troops would wear the standard Pattern 1874 Waist Belt, however for the cavalry, and for non-commissioned officers armed with a revolver, a new belt was designed - the Cavalry Belt of 1882 offered here.   

As a pet project of the Chief of Staff of the Army, there is no doubt the Ordnance Department took the production of this new belt seriously, however the surviving records indicate that the actual production was fairly limited.  The original orders called for Rock Island Arsenal to produce 2500 of the belts, and Benicia Arsenal 1000.  As this total number would only have been sufficient to outfit three and one half regiments of cavalry, it is possible this quantity was intended to be a trial of the new belt.  By January of 1885, production of the belts had been suspended and in June of that year further production was discontinued.  This limited production, and subsequent consumption in field use, has rendered these Cavalry Belts fairly scarce in decent condition and complete with all of the components. 

The Sherman Belt is a flat leather belt designed to be worn under the Mills Woven Cartridge Belts.  The components include:  A leather pistol ammunition carrier attached to the belt with laces, and faced with a set of Mills woven cartridge loops which bears a small brass Anson Mills patent tag.  Second, a detachable holster carrier which passed through the belt loop on the holster, made of leather and fitted with two brass flat hooks that engage matching brass “D” rings suspended from the bottom edge of the body of the belt.  And finally, in order for the belt to be complete and proper for issue to cavalry troops, a pair of the standard Model 1874 sabre straps attached to the second set of “D” rings suspended from the bottom edge of the left side of the belt – the front ring fitted with the flat brass dismounted hook for the sabre.       

This specimen is in excellent condition, showing little sign of use and only minor evidence of wear due to storage and age.  Complete with all of the components which appear to be original to the belt with the identical color and finish, this is a very attractive matched set.  The body of the belt is full length and supple with no hardened or weak points, and retains a smooth bright finish overall with only minor flaking of the original black dye at the billet end of the belt.  The front of the body of the belt is legibly stamped "ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL" and the folded billet around the brass box ring at the end of the belt is stamped with the inspector’s initials “L.L.R.” for L. L. Reger, one of the Master Harness Makers at Rock Island Arsenal.  The original brass frame buckle is present as are all of the brass “D” rings and the brass box ring at the end of the belt.  The Mills cartridge carrier is full form with all the cartridge loops present, and though they show some wear at the top edges, the loops hold their shape.  Three of the loops are parted for half their length and one is completely open for its length - all where the loops folded over in storage, and a function of age and storage.  The loops hold their shape and appear intact when the belt is displayed.  There is some minor wear to the leather binding on the edge of the woven facing.  The carrier is attached to the belt with the original black leather laces and the brass Mills Belt Company tag is present and firmly attached.  The holster carrier is likewise in excellent condition with a clear bright finish.  The matched pair of Model 1874 Sabre Straps show no wear or age and are in “like new” condition.  Normally missing from these belts, and if so, virtually impossible to replace, this set of straps being present adds significantly to the value of this belt.   

Cavalry “Sherman” Belts of 1882 have never been common, particularly complete with all the components, and this is an excellent example that would never need to be upgraded. (0119)  $2550



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