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A saddle question

Discussion in 'Campfire Chat - General Discussions' started by Bonny Blue Flag, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. Bonny Blue Flag

    Bonny Blue Flag 2nd Lieutenant

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    There is one scene in the movie, "Band of Angels" that has the Federal Cavalry riding into town. The lead officer, played by Efrem Zimbalist Jr, was riding his horse in the English fashion, by moving himself up and down on the saddle with the rhythm of the horse's walk. His horse was not in a clear shot of the movie camera, so I could not see Zimbalist's saddle.

    I wondered if English saddles and way of riding was done in the civil war? Or allowed in the Cavalry at all?

    Perhaps members of the Cavalry used whatever saddles they could get.

    ```````````````````````````````````````````````
    About the movie:
    "Band of Angels" starred Clark Gable, Yvonne DeCarlo, Sidney Poitier, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, William Shallert and Rex Reason.

    Story outline:
    Yvonne DeCarlo stars as a privileged daughter (Amantha Starr) of a Kentucky plantation owner. However, after he dies, a shocking secret is revealed. Unbeknownst to Amantha, her mother was one of her father's black slaves. Legally now property, she is taken by a slave trader to New Orleans to be sold.

    She is put up for auction and is bought by Hamish Bond (Clark Gable) for an exorbitant price. Expecting the worst, Amantha is suprised to be treated like a lady, not a slave, by her new owner.

    They fall in love. Hamish arranges to send Amantha to the North to be free, but she decides to stay with him. To complicate matters further, Hamish harbors the terrible secret of once being a slave-trader himself, many years ago.

    Then the Civil War breaks out, and New Orleans is captured. Hamish becomes a wanted man when he joins other plantation owners in burning their crops in defiance. He and Amantha are helped to escape by Rau-Ru (Sidney Poitier) who had fled and joined the Union Army.

    `````````````````````````

    --BBF
     

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  3. Lazy Bayou

    Lazy Bayou 1st Lieutenant

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    Don't know about the Union cavalry but since the Confederates had to furnish their own horses they probably used whatever saddle they had at the time.
     
  4. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Brigadier General Moderator

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    This site has pictures of the variety of saddles used during the American Civil War;

    http://www.ushist.com/19th-century_saddles-tack_f.shtml

    Though they are not really a high quality reproduction, such as the Jenifer saddle that Colonel Chamberlain rides in the movie "Gettysburg" which by the way is the same horse that General Longstreet rides.

    Lt.-Col. Jenifer, CSA Cavalry, is alleged to have designed this particular saddle.

    I would also insert here, that often horses fled to the enemy's lines--if the saddle was comfortable they kept it. So, it is very possible you could see a mix of saddles in the Civil War.

    The 1859 McClellan saddle, which is named after General McClellan, who had invented by using part of a Hungarian saddle and a few others, when he came back from overseas as a military observer. I would probably sway to this cut/design above others, as being the standard for the U.S. Military before the break out of the Civil War. Equipment tends to bleed into a start of a new war with old equipment and perfected by new challenges in war.

    As for the lifting out of the saddle at a walk -- I only know that 'posting' at a trot was found to be more comfortable, but at a walk--unnecessary as the motion in a walk is very comfortable. The lift out of a saddle at a walk for me, would be when I wished to see beyond the crest of a hill or mound, as I scout about. Being out of the saddle, in my opinion, would increase the risk rate of a rider, as he isn't firmly on the horse. Rolling knees in though would support a maintained upright position in the saddle. In addition, the modern riding uses balance to aid horse's performance, e.g. jumping. But, in the era of the Civil War the techniques were not horse friendly, e.g. rider balancing over the withers as much as possible and harmony of motion. The rider could have lifted upwards to relieve a cramp in their leg or to re-adjust their riding pants and or moving a seam of the inside of the pants, should a raw spot been formed.

    "Posting" as a term for a position in riding, is when the horse trots. Because of the trot taking a two beat motion, where two legs on the ground (right front, left hind) progressing to (left front, right hind) is a bit more choppy gait. Length of back makes this gait smoother but, on short back horses and those who have hind-quarters higher in the back, like a drag racer's car; it throws the rider out of the saddle, jars the jaw/teeth and is uncomfortable--so, the posting (or lifting out of the saddle in timing with one side or the other,) the horse and rider can be happier.

    Just some thoughts.

    M. E. Wolf
     
  5. unicornforge

    unicornforge Sergeant

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    That up and down motion is called posting and is done with both English and Western saddles. and is done when the horse is at a trot to (in my humble understanding) help prevent pounding of the delicate part of the human anatomy against the saddle, due to the increase in the bouncing of the horse when trotting. So, yes the more experienced and/or educated riders would have likely posted to save both their anatomy and the wear and tear on the horse's back.

    The regulation saddle issued by the north was the McClellan saddle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McClellan_saddle http://www.alabamadivision.org/files/The_McClellan_Saddle.pdf.
    Yes other saddles were used especially by the Confederacy due to shortages, and also by officers on both sides who purchased their own saddles, but the McClellan saddle was the regulation saddle as noted in the Ordnance Manuals of that time period.

    I have ridden using both saddles and feel that the split saddle is kinder to the human male anatomy. .

    My wife told me that her grandfather's favorite saddle was a McClellan. Her grandparents had a riding school, which my wife remembers fondly working at during the summers of her youth.

    My mother-in-law told me that I have a natural seat which means that I naturally sit properly on a horse and tend to look knowledgeable (which I am not). I can also sit in a saddle all day without getting sore. We had horses for a while, but it got too expensive.
     
  6. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Brigadier General Moderator

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    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXII/3 [S# 59]
    CONFEDERATE CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN KENTUCKY, SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, TENNESSEE, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, AND NORTH GEORGIA FROM MARCH 1, 1864, TO APRIL 30, 1864.--#11
    CONFIDENTIAL.] BRISTOL, April 29, 1864.
    General BRAXTON BRAGG,
    Richmond:
    GENERAL: In transmitting my report upon so much of the cavalry of this department as I have seen, I beg leave to inclose to you confidentially some rough notes handed me by Major-General Ransom. They will perhaps convey a better idea of the condition of these people than anything I could say.
    I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    ARCHER ANDERSON,
    Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General

    Report of inspection of cavalry.
    The cavalry of this army consists of Jones', Giltner's, and Vaughn's brigades, and a small number of mounted men belonging to General Morgan's force. Vaughn's brigade and Morgan's mounted men are in North Carolina recruiting their horses, and were not inspected.

    Jones' brigade (April 24), Lieutenant-Colonel Cook commanding, composed of Eighth Virginia Regiment, Captain Sheffey commanding; Twenty-first Virginia Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Edmundson; Thirty-sixth Virginia Battalion, Captain Kirtley; Thirty-seventh Virginia Battalion, Major Claiborne; Twenty-seventh Battalion, Thirty-fourth Battalion, Sixty-fourth Regiment: The last three commands being on distant service, scattered about at wide intervals, were not inspected. Present at inspection, 66 officers, 887 men. Three regimental or battalion commanders in arrest. There is an examining board for the brigade to inquire into the competency of officers, but none have been examined. With the exception of the Eighth Virginia, there are no schools of tactics in the regiments. Company and battalion drills very rare. Some companies have not drilled for six months; others only once in four weeks. Officers and men seem unfamiliar with tactics. One hundred and sixty-nine men absent without leave, who went off on furlough.

    Clothing not good; pantaloons particularly needed. Fifty-nine men entirely without shoes, 64 entirely without a blanket, 197 dismounted men. Subsistence as in the infantry. Horses of good bone, but in low order. They need three weeks' rest and good feeding on grass and corn before they will be fit for a campaign. Saddles, mixed; McClellan, Texan, citizen, &c. All good except about six Jenifer saddles in each company, of Government manufacture, which were invariably reported to hurt the horses' backs. I believe this would be the report of every cavalry officer in service, and if not already done the manufacture of this saddle ought to be stopped.

    [excerpt]

    Fourth Kentucky Regiment Cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Pryor commanding: Only seven companies present; three on picket. Present at inspection, 22 officers, 277 men. Company and battalion drills rare; officers apparently not well acquainted with tactics. No school of tactics in the regiment. No enlisted men, who went off on furlough, remain absent without leave. Clothing bad, especially the pantaloons. Only 3 men without shoes; none without blankets. Nineteen men dismounted. Horses in low order; not able to make a campaign; at least three weeks' recruiting with good forage is needed; 19 disabled. Saddles, 58 bad, principally Jenifer; the rest generally McClellan. Forage, average issue per animal last quarter. 8 pounds corn, 4 pounds hay. Since 1st April 6 pounds of corn and little or no hay. Arms, Enfield, Springfield, and short Richmond rifles, rusty; one company with sabers.

    Report as to other subjects the same as for Jones' brigade. The regiment was bivouacked 16 miles west of the salt-works, in Russell County.
    ARCHER ANDERSON,
    Lieut. Col., Asst. Adj. Gen., on Inspection Duty.

    ======================
    Quick look at The 1862 U.S. Cavalry Tactics - Col. Phillip St. Geo. Cooke -- there is no support for Troopers being taught how to post at the trot.

    The publication by Col. Cooke was originally done in 1860. Revised in 1861 and 1862, there were originally two volumes -- Vol. I - School of the Trooper, Platoon and Squadron and Vol. II Evolutions of the Regiment and of the Line. The next revision produced The 1862 U.S. Cavalry Tactics.

    Col. Cooke was witness to the Crimean War as a U.S. Military observer. Being around the English if any influence of posting to the trot--it didn't make a influence here during the Civil War when these two Cavalry manuals were issued.

    I went over it again -- I do not find any support for any lifting out of the saddle, with the exceptions given before.

    ((Col. Cooke, later General U.S. Army-- his son went to the Confederacy, daughter married J.E.B. Stuart, so there had to be a lot of Col. Cooke's influence and training in Cavalry that rubbed off on them.))


    M. E. Wolf
     
  7. kansas

    kansas Corporal

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    The Jenifer failed because horses had little flesh when worked hard. The Confederates had a large number of trees in stock so they made a transition saddle for a time then the Mac. They also made and issued a number of western type, looked alot like the California style. Of all their saddles I like the looks of the Atlanta western style though i have never been on one. There is a picture around of Custer on a very decent looking Confederate horse with a Confederate saddle . A cleaned up close up of that one would be interesting.
     
  8. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Brigadier General Moderator

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    Kansas,

    Get a picture to Wilber6150 on the Photography Forum. I'm sure he can do wonders.

    M. E. Wolf
     
  9. BillO

    BillO 1st Lieutenant

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    I grew up on bikes and then motorcycles and can count the number of times I've sat on a horse with 1 hand. All of the saddles on the link look about the same to me and they all look like some sort of torture device. They are even made of wood of all things to put between my most favorite parts and some really big crazy animal thats bouncing around wood wouldn't be on my list. Must admit they are fascinating in a way but scary.
     
  10. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Brigadier General Moderator

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    BillO;

    Reminds me of a saying -- "What we fear is what we do not understand."

    McClellan saddle has a gap in the center of the saddle, and this was to account for reduced/skinny raw spines showing horses, starved horses to still be ridden...to their death if need be, while the rider could remain comfortable.

    Wood trees on saddles are the skeleton of the saddle. Padding is applied, covered with leather--and the buttocks your cushion. Padding under the saddle absorbs a lot of the jarring also.

    Men invented these saddles -- so, the comfort and safety of the 'jewels' or in some cases 'dangle berries, peaches and melons'--I'm sure all things were considered.

    M. E. Wolf
     
  11. BillO

    BillO 1st Lieutenant

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    I understand and I agree. My Dad put me on the back of a big farm horse when I was about six and I still remember his teeth, they were huge. It's kind of funny in a way. I've driven tractors, small aircraft, sports car racing, sailboat racing, played tactle football for 20 years, wrecked 2 motorcycles, been in bar fights, had pistols pulled on me twice but I'm a nervous wreck around horses.
     
  12. K Hale

    K Hale Colonel Civil War Photo Contest
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    It's all been said, but I have one thing to add. It is possible to sit the trot (i.e., not post) but it takes a lot of practice to do this and move with the horse rather than be bounced up and down. In the 19th century this was known as riding dragoon style. I found this out via Robert E. Lee Jr., who wrote that his dad made him learn this as a child.
     
  13. kansas

    kansas Corporal

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    There is a decent museum at Fort Riley with a fair number of pristine saddles all original. Im going to go there again one of these days and take some pictures and make some notes while I am there this time. I will ask my wife to get them on here if possible and try to find someone interested in saddles to discuss it with me. It is a pretty good exhibit. There is a Custer museum there as well but i have never been in that one.
     

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