Cavalry Saddles

The McClellan saddle became the Union cavalry's most widely used saddle during the Civil War and was still being issued to mounted troops in the American army as late as World War 2. The saddle was named after General George B. McClellan. McClellan saddles were extremely serviceable and were largely based on the saddles McClellan had seen being used

The distinctive yellow facings of this cavalryman's uniform mark him out to be a bugler. Note also the double seams of yellow on his trousers and the fancy stitching on the top of his boots. The bottom of his pistol holster can also be seen poking out from underneath his elbow. David Scheinmann.

by Cossacks when he had been an observer in the Crimea. McClellan saddles were light and strong and easy on a horse's back.

They were also comfortable for the rider, apart from the early models covered in rawhide which often split. McClellan saddles were fitted with wooden stirrups with leather hoods. Under the saddle, a regulation blanket was folded like a pad. These blankets were usually dark blue wool with an orange border stripe and US in orange letters in the centre. Grey blankets with yellow trim were also issued.

Officers used McClellan saddles but favoured English saddles as well. Over the saddle, officers were supposed to drape a dark blue shabraque edged with gold lace.

Suitably saddled and equipped, all cavalry regiments should have been imposing sights, but the reality of a newly recruited cavalry regiment was often far from imposing, as remembered by Captain Vanderbilt in his History of the 10th New York

Civil War Cavalry Captain ShabraqueCivil War Officer With Sword

The straps attaching the officer's sword to his waistbelt are well shown in this picture. Civil War officers carried their swords hooked to the waistbelt with the hilts to the rear so that they hung parallel to the left leg. With his trousers tucked into his boots this man looks every inch a cavalry officer, but surprisingly he doesn't wear shoulder straps. David Scheinmann.

The straps attaching the officer's sword to his waistbelt are well shown in this picture. Civil War officers carried their swords hooked to the waistbelt with the hilts to the rear so that they hung parallel to the left leg. With his trousers tucked into his boots this man looks every inch a cavalry officer, but surprisingly he doesn't wear shoulder straps. David Scheinmann.

Cavalry: 'Such a rattling, jerking, scrabbling cursing. I never heard before. Green horses some of them had never been ridden turned round and round, backed against each other, jumped up or stood up like trained circus horses. Some of the boys had never ridden anything since they galloped on a hobby horse and they clasped their legs close together, thus unconsciously sticking the spurs into their horses' sides.'

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Responses

  • Paul Barth
    How was a civil war sword worn?
    6 years ago
  • rosamunda noakes
    How to carry a civil war saber?
    5 years ago

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