1859 McClellan Saddle
1859 McClellan Saddle
Forces History, Division of History of Technology,
National Museum of American History
McClellan Military Saddle
As has been
recounted in numerous works, George B. McClellan developed
this saddle over a number of years. This saddle has its
beginnings in the Crimean War, where Capt. McClellan was
sent, like many officers, to observe the activities
of the combatants. During this time it is surmised that he
was able to observe, and perhaps test for himself, a great
variety of foreign military equipment. This seems to have
been the case, as he was spurred to suggest a wide range
of changes to the equipment then in use by the U.S. Army.
first time, the U.S. Army (pushed by the dynamic and
capable Secretary of War Jefferson Davis) was conducting a
number of trial evaluations with the purpose of
determining the most efficient and practical equipment for
its mounted troops through the use of large scale testing.
This was particularly true of the newly formed cavalry
regiments. Equipment was acquired in sufficient numbers to
allow two to three cavalry squadrons - about 250 to 300
troopers - to subject each pattern to the most rigorous
conditions that early frontier service had to offer.
evaluation of saddles, there were quite a number of styles
tested. The Jones adjustable tree saddle, the Hope, the
standard service Grimsley, the flexible Campbell, and the
new style offered by Capt. McClellan. In the evaluation of
these saddles, it was no doubt difficult to choose a
positively superior saddle, as all of these saddles
(except perhaps the Jones) had their vociferous
supporters. Style and habitual preference would have had
as much to do with the decision-making as with the
suitability of the saddle for military service.
be the deciding factors in saddle selection then? It is
rather difficult to say, unless it is made clear that the
military of the 19th century had almost nothing in common
with the current military purchasing structures, where
cost may be a minor concern. In the end, it became
apparent that cost cutting, in addition to serviceability,
were the deciding factors in the adoption of the McClellan
saddle. Indeed, budget "frugality" is reflected
throughout the life of the McClellan saddle, and was the
main reason for its longevity.
saddle types could be found during the Civil War, most
mounted reenactors, both north and south, choose the 1859
McClellan because it is the only period-correct saddle
widely available today at a reasonable cost.