SUMMARY OF THE
RICHMOND ARSENAL PRODUCTION OF
“SKELETON” SADDLES FOR C.S. TROOPERS
By KEN R. KNOPPThe descriptions below represent the most commonly manufactured “Skeleton” saddles for trooper’s use as prescribed by Richmond Arsenal authorities. Officer’s saddles differed greatly. NOTE: Wide variations of leather, hardware and even tree configurations used in Jenifer and McClellen trooper’s skeleton saddles were very common due to contractor deviations, evolutionary changes, chronic material shortages and expedience resulting from the constant pressure of relentless demand. All dates represent only the period of the saddle’s manufacture. Field issue varied.
C.S. JENIFER (1ST & 2ND MODEL) SKELETON SADDLES: JAN. 1862_MAR. 1863.
** Note only 2,000 Richmond Jenifer saddles are documented to have been shipped west of the Allegheny Mountains for issue to troopers of the western theater.
1ST MODEL “PATENT” JENIFER TREE From Jan. 1862 through the late fall of 1862. Tree configuration based largely upon patent model. Most other details of finished saddles were as with the Second Model “New” Jenifer (see below).
2ND MODEL “NEW” JENIFER TREE From late fall 1862 through March 1863. Tree of the New Jenifer differed somewhat from the first model including reshaping of the bars but its exact configuration is unclear.*Vast majority of both the 1st and 2nd model trees were manufactured by A.A. Pitman & Co. (Subcontracted to the firm of THIEM & FRAPES of Raleigh, N.C.) The first contract was for 10,000 and a second contract for 15,000. A few other firms made still more trees.
TREE: WHITE LEAD PAINT, RAWHIDE COVERED TREE (occasionally covered with split leather) WITH AN OPEN “SHAFTED” SEAT.
SADDLE: INCLUDED SKIRTS, SWEAT LEATHERS (a.k.a. LEG GUARDS), COVERED WOOD STIRRUPS. SKIRTS OFTEN PUT ON WITH COMMON TACKS RATHER THAN SCREWS. ISSUED WITH A VALISE AND CRUPPER BUT NO BREAST STRAP.
LEATHER: USE DEPENDENT UPON AVAILABILITY OF SUPPLY. HOWEVER, RECORDS SUGGEST THE USE OF BOTH BLACK AND RUSSET LEATHER. SOMETIMES BLACK HARNESS LEATHER WAS USED FOR QUARTER STRAPS AND STIRRUP STRAPS; RUSSET “SKIRTING” LEATHER DOMINANT ON SKIRTS, LEG GUARDS AND STIRRUP HOODS; BLACK OR RUSSET BRIDLE LEATHER USED ON BLANKET STRAPS.
QUARTER STRAP ASSEMBLY: LIKE THAT OF McClellan (using “O” rings for D’s). JAN. 1862 UNTIL LIKELY THE EARLY SUMMER 1862. THEN DISCONTINUED.
ENGLISH (SINGLE OR DOUBLE) RIGGED GIRTH SYSTEM: EARLY SUMMER 1862 TO MARCH 1863. AFTER WHICH QUARTER STRAP ASSEMBLY APPEARS TO BE ADOPTED AGAIN.
SURCINGLES: WERE INITIALLY COMMON FOR LIKELY USE ON THE ENGLISH RIGGED SADDLES THOUGH THEY WRAPPED AROUND SADDLE AND NOT THROUGH A SLIT IN THE SKIRT AS PER THE PATENT MODEL. LIKELY DISCONTINUED WITH QUARTER STRAP ASSEMBLIES. AFTER THIS TIME THEY WERE APPARENTLY USED ONLY ON OFFICERS SADDLES.
CINCH: ENGLISH STYLE TWO (SOMETIMES ONE) BILLET GIRTH WITH ENGLISH RIGGED SADDLES. FOR QUARTER-STRAP ASSEMBLIES- THE COMMON McClellan GIRTH AND CINCH METHOD WITH D (OR O_RINGS) AND IRON BUCKLES. BOTH STYLES WERE MADE OF HEAVY SOLE LEATHER OR WEBB.
STIRRUPS:LEATHER COVERED WOOD GENERALLY, SOMETIMES IRON WHEN SUPPLIES WERE LOW. WOOD TEAR DROP PATTERN- MANY HAVING THE “BOW” WITH ROUNDED TOPS.
MOUNTINGS: BRASS AND/OR ZINC MOUNTINGS USED (CLIPPED CORNER). ZINC COMMON AS EARLY AS FALL 1862. OFTEN PUT ON WITH COMMON TACKS.
HARDWARE: VARIOUS PRE_WAR BRASS AND IRON HARDWARE USED UNTIL SUPPLY AND CONTRACTORS WERE EXHAUSTED ABOUT FALL 1862. THEN HARDWARE WAS MADE AT CLARKSVILLE AND SUPPLIED FROM LIMITED CONTRACTORS. INCLUDING:HORSESHOE SHAPED CAST “WIRE” AND “WIRE ROLLER” BUCKLES PREVALENT“DRIVEN-IN” OR FORGED FOOTMAN STAPLES (SPORADIC)IRON O_RINGS FOR QUARTER STRAPS.
STIRRUP STRAP HANGERS: 1/4 INCH ROUND IRON WITH PLATE.
STIRRUP STRAP BUCKLES: ROLLER AND HORSESHOE, 1 1/4 OR ONE INCH
COAT STRAP BUCKLES: CAST HORSESHOE “WIRE”. OR “WIRE” ROLLERS, 5/8″
JENIFER/McClellan TRANSITION SADDLE TREE: April 1863_NOV. 1863.These trees are of unclear configuration. Made at Clarksville on the McClellan pattern from converted Jenifer trees and “finished” as New Jenifer above or 1st Model McClellan below. Some McClellan trees were being finished during this period as supplied by contractors, A.A. Pitman (Theim & Frapes) and others.
C.S. McCLELLAN (1ST & 2ND MODELS) SKELETON SADDLE NOV. 1863- END OF WAR: Trees were largely made at government shops in Clarksville and by a few key contractors to varying degrees through this entire period.
1ST MODEL TREE: McClellan “style” trees made in government shops at Clarksville and by two contractors. Beginning Nov. 1863- May 1864. Made somewhat on the Federal 1859 pattern McClellan and of better quality than the transition saddles but not nearly as well made as its Federal counterpart.
TREE: WHITE LEAD PAINT, RAWHIDE COVERED TREE WITH AN OPEN SEAT.
SADDLE: INCLUDED SKIRTS, SWEAT LEATHERS (a.k.a. LEG GUARDS), COVERED WOOD STIRRUPS (SWEAT LEATHERS AND STIRRUP COVERS DISCONTINUED IN FEB. 1864). ISSUED WITH CRUPPER AND SOMETIMES A VALISE BUT NO BREAST STRAPS.
LEATHER: DEPENDENT UPON AVAILABILITY OF LEATHER SUPPLIES. LEATHER USED: GENERALLY, BLACK HARNESS LEATHER FOR STIRRUP STRAPS AND QUARTER STRAPS; RUSSET “SKIRTING” LEATHER USED ON SKIRTS, GUARDS AND HOODS; BRIDLE LEATHER USED ON BLANKET STRAPS.
QUARTER STRAP ASSEMBLY: USUALLY WITH “O” RINGS
CINCH: UTILIZING THE COMMON McClellan STYLE GIRTH OF HEAVY LEATHER OR OF COTTON WEBB.
STIRRUPS: WOOD. SAME AS ABOVE. HAND FORGED IRON STIRRUPS OFTEN ISSUED WHEN WOOD NOT AVAILABLE.
MOUNTINGS: BRASS AND ZINC “CLIPPED CORNER” AND OVAL MOUNTINGS SUCH AS ABOVE. SOME SADDLE ISSUED WITHOUT MOUNTINGS.
HARDWARE: IRON WIRE ROLLER OR HORSESHOE SHAPED CAST “WIRE” BUCKLES AND SOME “DRIVEN” FOOTMAN STAPLES. STIRRUP STRAP HANGERS: 1/4 INCH ROUND IRON WITH PLATE STIRRUP STRAP (1 1/4) AND COAT STRAP BUCKLES (5/8): IRON RINGS FOR QUARTER STRAPS
*NOTE: All Jenifer and McClellan saddles manufactured from July 1863- May 1864 were issued with pads under the bars made from stuffed canvas duck or sheepskin.
2ND MODEL “DINWIDDIE McClellan” Approx. May 1864 to the end of the war. Very specific and well constructed McClellan trees made in government shops at Clarksville and by two contractors using Ordnance Department gauges designed by Capt James Dinwiddie. Officer’s and privates saddles were hereafter “finished” the same except by special order.
By KEN R. KNOPP
* COPYRIGHT This information is not to be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.