This photograph comes through the courtesy and generosity of John Walsh of Ft. Donelson Relics. John picked this beauty up at the 2008 C.W. show in Marietta Ga. Apparently, it walked in the door having come from an old collection. The story goes that the owner rec’’d it second or third hand back many years ago. Sadly, without any identification. John participates on this forum so perhaps he can shed more light on its story.
I humbly submit the following observations for discussion:
1. SADDLE: He is most certainly riding a “Half Spanish” saddle with black quilted leather seat and skirt (or at least a roll on the skirt). These saddles were built on the English tree (Thus called half Spanish the other half being English) with a tapered horn similar but not identical to the (Full) Spanish saddle. I enclose a photo of similar period saddle as the type pattern he is riding. Stirrups are common period civilian iron stirrups with a “French” style strap slot. Stirrup straps utilize a common roller buckle. Girth appears to be cotton web with a woven stripe (or stripes) common to these saddles.
2. SADDLE BLANKET: The above saddles were heavily padded underneath (I can see the padding on the bars) so typically did not require a saddle blanket. Nevertheless, our fella appears to be employing a dark color wool saddle blanket.
3. BRIDLE: Typical “civilian” bridle of the English pattern. Includes a simple bridle with snaffle bit, wide headstall, rolled leather brow band and wide leather reins. The “single” reins (not split) are leather, quite wide likely one and 1/4 or one and __ inches. On top of the left side of the horses head and attached to the bridle headstall is some kind of unclear flag, steamer or plume. I do not know what that is. Any ideas?
4. CARBINE SLING: It appears to me that our guy is a cavalryman or artillery “cadre” armed with a carbine (slung to his right side) and thus a carbine sling of likely brown leather about two inches wide. I note the billet keeper a the top of his shoulder. A shame we cannot see the type hardware used with it!
In my ““opinion”….our trooper is either a cavalryman or an artilleryman “cadre” (or mounted artillery) but most likely a cavalry trooper given his carbine sling. This image is “probably” early war given his civilian saddlery equipments but this is not necessarily true.