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MODEL 1874 PALMER INFANTRY BRACE SYSTEM – VERY NICE EXAMPLE:  As described and illustrated in Ordnance Memoranda No. 19, and worn in concert with the Model 1874 Infantry Waist Belt, the Model 1874 Palmer Infantry Brace System was one of the last of several attempts by the 19th Century Ordnance Department to provide the foot soldier with a load bearing system that would distribute the weight of his equipment. 

The Model 1874 Palmer Infantry Brace System provided the soldier a uniform method of carrying his McKeever ammunition boxes (2), haversack, clothing bag, mess gear, cup, blanket, and bayonet.  Consisting of shoulder straps that descended down the front of the soldier’s body to connect to the brass standing loops on each side of the Model 1874 Infantry belt plate, a back pad that would distribute the weight and attaching billets to mount the haversack and clothing bag, what appears to be a fairly confusing collection of leather straps when viewed in hand, provided an orderly harness when worn.  In spite of the well intentioned design, the troops rejected the system out of hand and it was eventually withdrawn from service by 1878.    

This brace system is in very nice condition and is complete with all of the integral straps, buckles and billets.  The straps which attached to the belt plate and the two with brass hooks which served as the front haversack straps, often missing from these sets, are all present and full form.  All the straps are full length, live and supple, and do not have any weak points.  The leather is overall smooth, with some minor flexing and crazing to the surface where the straps are designed to bend.  There is a legible Rock Island Arsenal cartouche in the center of the back pad.   

Although appearing to be somewhat in the style of “Rube Goldberg”, in fact and in practice, the Model 1874 Infantry Brace System was a serious attempt to relieve the chafing and stress inflicted on the Infantry soldier by his considerable equipment load in the field, and it has a definite place in any complete Indian War collection.  (0526)  $160



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