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MODEL 1879 HARTMAN “SPLIT SPRING” CARBINE SOCKET – ONE OF THE MOST RARE OF THE INDIAN WAR HORSE EQUIPMENTS:  Designed by Sgt. Henry Hartman of the 1st Regiment of Cavalry, and submitted to the Equipment Board of 1878, the Model 1879 Carbine Socket, or Hartman Socket as it is known by modern collectors, is one of the few pieces of new horse equipment approved by the 1878 Board that survived being shelved by the financially restrained army and was produced by the arsenals, albeit in extremely limited numbers. 

While the details of the equipment presented to, and selected by, the Board of 1878, and the ensuing discussion, endorsements, approvals and eventual holds placed on the production of new equipment until existing supplies of equipment on hand had been sufficiently reduced has been revealed in detail in a number of different published works, there still exists some question as to the quantity of the select pieces of Model 1879 Horse Equipment that were eventually produced for trial or regular issue.  For example, records indicate the army procured at least 570 Whitman Saddle trees, and a contemporary field action report from a unit in the Arizona Territory in the 1880’s specifically mentions the Whitman Saddle in service in the field, however no arsenal- produced Model 1879 Whitman Saddles are known to exist today, and it is doubtful very many were originally made.  Conversely, the Model 1879 Saddlebags while far from common today, do exist in sufficient quantities to suggest a substantial number of them were produced and issued – certainly more than the possible 570 saddles, based on the modern survival rate of the saddlebags. 

The benefits of Hartman’s carbine socket were readily recognized by the 1878 Equipment Board.  The spring base of the socket allowed for the rapid release of the carbine, whether the carbine was being drawn for action by the soldier or as it twisted free due to the soldier falling from or being thrown from the saddle.  The split ring was regarded as a considerable advantage over the Model 1859 Carbine Socket, particularly for the safety of the soldiers connected to their carbines via the heavy leather shoulder sling.  Although the board heartily recommended the socket be adopted and that recommendation was endorsed by General Benet, Chief of Ordnance, there is no record of how many were eventually produced.  Given the tremendous stocks of serviceable Model 1859 sockets still in inventory and the introduction of the 1st Pattern Carbine Boot in 1885, it is not likely very many of the Hartman Sockets were ever produced, perhaps only a limited number for trial, and this low production is certainly substantiated by the low survival rate in modern collections.  I personally actively sought one of these for my own collection for many years and I found them to be particularly elusive, identifying less than 10 scattered in collections across the country, and none of them being for sale.    

This specimen is in very good condition, retaining a bright, clear, smooth finish to the majority of the leather surface.  This socket does show use, which is all the more compelling as it serves as confirmation that they were indeed issued.  There is some chafing to the flared edge of both the top and bottom rims of the socket where the carbine barrel would have worn against the socket.  This chafing is purely cosmetic and in no way affects the integrity of the socket.  All of the seams are intact, the retaining strap is full length and the brass buckle is present.  There are no arsenal marks or inspector’s stamps, however this seems to be the case with the few examples that have been examined. 

One of the truly rare and unique pieces of Indian War horse equipment, this Hartman Carbine Socket will be an exceptional addition to any collection.  (0515)  $1250

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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