Specs of a Richmond Arsenal Officer’s Saddle

Richmond Arsenal, c. Spring 1862-Dec.1863



Authenticity/Provenance Appraisal by Ken R. Knopp

Surviving Confederate Ordnance Department documentation and the saddle’s physical evidence indicates that this saddle is a Confederate Richmond Arsenal officer’s pattern saddle finished at the Clarksville Virginia Ordnance Harness Shops sometime between the Spring of 1862 and December 1863.


Richmond Arsenal Officer’s Jenifer

 TREE: Jenifer (Patent) pattern. Tree probably under contract by A.A. Pitman Co. of Raleigh North Carolina during their first contract (May 1862-Sept. 1862) or, early in their second contract (Sept. 1862-Dec. 1862). The bottom of the bars are rounded which is a characteristic of saddle trees made prior to improvements implemented in the fall of 1862. Though trees made after this date were improved, the inferior trees continued to be finished into saddles until late 1863.

FINISHED SADDLE PATTERN: Officer’s “Plain Jenifer” model. Most Richmond Arsenal private’s saddles were the “skeleton” pattern rawhide covered tree (without leather covering of the seat), English or quarter-strapped rigged and had abbreviated skirts. All basic Confederate officer’s pattern saddles (Richmond Arsenal products) were made at Clarksville on A.A. Pitman contract trees. This saddle has a seat completely covered with leather, long tapered skirts, was English rigged and had brass rings. All of which were characteristics of the Clarksville-made “Plain Jenifer” officer’s saddle pattern.

LEATHER: Russet leather utilized throughout. Extensive restoration and some replacement of the skirts and seat with non-original stirrup straps and buckles.

POMMEL SHIELD: “CS” embossed saddle shield (Cavalry saddle pattern). These shields were stamped in Clarksville and used on both Richmond Arsenal made cavalry saddles and by those of select contractors.

MORTICE PLATES: Seven original Confederate “clipped corner”, octagon (eight sided) brass plates. These too were stamped in Clarksville and used on both Richmond Arsenal made saddles and by those of select contractors. Iron flat head nails were used to attach these plates.

RINGS: Original round cast brass ring, 25 in thickness, 1 ½ inch (interior dimension).

STAPLES: Round iron wire, .15 in thickness

STIRRUP STRAP LOOPS: Classic pattern of iron wire loop in iron strap. Wire loop is of round iron, .20 in thickness and is 1 ½ inch wide by .55 inch (interior dimensions). Iron strap is made of flat sheet iron .04 in thickness, 1.30 inches wide.

SCREWS: 3/4 inch brass. Twelve used to attach each skirt.

BILLET STRAPS: Probably leather (as were most) nailed to tree (nail marks in tree under seat on top of bar).

GIRTH: Webbing (add-on) not original to the saddle.

STIRRUPS: Original CS issue iron stirrups but not original to this saddle.