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ca. 1885 CABINET CARD OF A MOUNTED SOLDIER AND FRONTIER STABLE – VERY UNUSUAL STABLE SETTING AND EXCELLENT CAVALRY RELATED SUBJECT:  This is a particularly nice cabinet card image of an Indian Wars Cavalryman, ca. 1885, mounted on his horse under arms with the open door of the post stables behind him.  The style and obvious size of the stable building is very similar to the surviving stable buildings at Fort Concho in San Angelo, Texas.   

This soldier presents as a seasoned veteran and is dressed and equipped for duty “under arms” on the garrison.  The forage cap, bearing the regimental insignia, the Model 1885 Sabre Belt with holstered pistol and sabre, and the lack of saddle bags on the horse all indicate he was probably coming on duty for a guard or parade assignment rather than going into the field.  Interestingly, the soldier standing in the doorway of the stable is wearing a Model 1885 Mills Woven Cartridge belt with a holstered pistol – an accoutrement set normally associated with field or campaign wear.   

The horse is mounted with what appears to be, and is most likely given the other equipment fully visible, a Model 1885 McClellan Saddle and a Model 1885 Saddle Blanket – items that do not often appear in these period images.    

Measuring 6 ½” by 4 ½”, this is a good sized image that provides a good view of all the subject matter.  The cabinet card has seen some aging and exposure to handling, but the image is still quite sharp.  There is a crack in the card immediately above the mounted soldier’s head that has been repaired and is now stable.  There are four light spots above and to the left of the horse’s head, but they do not interfere with the image content.  Otherwise, the image and the card are very stable, with no additional damage.   

There is an ink stamped legend on the reverse along one edge.  Unfortunately, the full text is not decipherable due to the stamp being applied right on the edge, but what is legible reads, “US CAVALRY”.  It is possible this was an official US Army photograph taken by a post photographer or one under contract to the army.  There is also some other notes hand written in pencil that appear to be period to the image, but I have been unable to make them out.   

The relatively minor wear to this image is more than offset by the unique nature of the subject matter and all of the detail included in the soldier’s and the horse’s equipment.  Mounted soldier images are fairly scarce and have always been one of the premier subjects sought after in Indian War photography.  (0334)  $675



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