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Reference Items
Infantry Officer's Belt

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A classic Civil War officer's belt on brown russet leather with cast brass eagle buckle.  This right-handed buckle matches plate #644 in the reference work American Military Belt Plates by O’Donnell & Campbell.  The eagle faces to its right, its lengthy wings reaching almost to the border of the plate frame. The laurel wreath extends beyond its wingtips.  Six stars, each resting within a cloud are above the banner with an additional star at each end and five more below.  Rays reach above the stars but are not present on the sides of the wreath.  The background of the plate is stippled.  The eagle’s wings, the wreath, and the swept shield are in very high relief and richly detailed.  The buckle is uncleaned and shows a rich patina.  The back of both the keeper and buckle are unmarked.  The leather is firm and supple with minor flaking.  Both saber straps are present with original suspension clasps and parade hook.  The interior stitching shows some old repairs. 

This is the exact belt pictured on page 139 in the reference work Army Blue by John P. Langellier, where it is shown accompanying a cavalry officer’s frock coat. 

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-266

1851 Pattern Bridle Leather Cavalry Belt

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This is a bridle leather cavalry saber belt whose rectangular eagle plate is patterned after the plate specified by General Order 31 of June 1851.  It specified a buckle with the U.S. coat of arms surrounded by a laurel wreath.  Most such belts were made from the 1850's through end of the Civil War.  This belt is unmarked and bears no contractor’s stamp. 

The belt is complete with both saber drops and the shoulder support strap which is often absent; all leather parts match.  The bridle leather is dyed black on the exterior per 1851 Army regulations, with natural color on the belt interior.  The hasp bears a bench mark "879” with the 9 being a weak strike.  The plate is unmarked.

The right-handed plate has an integral tongue and one-piece nickel silver wreath applied to the plate entirely below the eagle’s relatively compact wing tips.  In addition to less obvious features such as a more rounded head on the eagle and a circle of rays outside the wreath, this lowered wreath is consistent with an amended design published in the Ordnance Manual in November 1861, the revised plates actually going into production after delivery of a template from the government in December of 1863.  The plate is made of cast brass with a comparatively flat banner; the eagle’s head is facing to its right and almost touches the banner.  In place of clouds above the banner, there is stippling around the stars and the rays surround the wreath.  There are thirteen stars, six above the banner, two above the banner tail, two left of the eagle's head and three to the right.  The swept shield on the eagle's breast bears stripes in two directions with no stars.  The narrow tongue on the plate is integral to the casting, its thinner tip is bent, intended to fasten to a separate brass keeper.  

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-264

1839 Pattern Enlistedman's Buff Leather Belt

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Standard issue 1839 pattern enlistedman’s white buff leather belt.  It is equipped with a die stamped US buckle with a single arrow style hook.  It also has its original white leather keeper.  The belt is 1½” wide and 48” in length, its leather still shows the arsenal knap and is very supple. 

The buckle measures 40mm x 70mm.  Use of the small US oval plate was approved with the regulation of 1839.  Although most of these small sized plates were manufactured in the 1840's and 1850's, many still saw use through the Civil War.  This particular dye pattern shows thick letters, the "U" with medium boxy bottom, the "S" with rounded openings.  The buckle is configured as a left-handed buckle with single brass arrow hook behind the "S."

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-263

Virginia Belt - Captain John Bryant

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This two piece officer’s sword belt was worn by Captain John Bryant of the 29th Virginia Volunteer Regiment.  It is identified by a period ink inscription on the inside of the belt that reads:  "J T Bryant” in flowing script.  Bryant’s official record shows no middle initial, but review of the Confederate Virginia roster for possible matches, reveals there are no other possible matches. 

Captain John Bryant was a forty year old Carroll County, Virginia resident when he raised a company of local men for Confederate service in July of 1861.  His company, known simply as Captain John Bryant’s Company, became Company C, 29th Virginia Infantry.  The company mustered into Confederate service at Delp’s muster ground, in Carroll County, Virginia on July 25, 1861.

Captain Bryant led his company until the following May when he was discharged at Tazewell, Virginia due to his age.  He returned home to Carroll where he died in 1884.  He is buried in Captain John Marshall Cemetery in Carroll County.

Captain Bryant’s sword belt is in excellent condition.  It is one of the few Confederate belts seen that retains its original sword hangers, both of which are strong and flexible.  The leather is supple and retains nearly all of its original finish.  All of the stitching remains complete and tight.  The two piece buckle has a die stamped central disc bearing the Virginia state seal, Virtue standing over a defeated Tyranny. 

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-262

Infantry Officer's Belt

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A privately purchased Civil War officer's belt on black bridle leather with a unique cast brass two-piece buckle.  The buckle is a nicely accomplished tongue-in-wreath style winged eagle, finely detailed in a gilt-brass casting.  The eagle faces left and holds arrows in his left talon, an olive branch in his right.  On his breast is a swept shield with horizontal and vertical stripes, no stars.  Both of the buckle components are unmarked.  This plate and keeper are very similar to the set illustrated as plate 373 in the reference work American Military Belt Plates by Michael O’Donnell & J. Duncan Campbell.

The leather is soft with minor flaking.  The interior of the belt has a leather liner that is hem-stitched on the outer edges of the belt, the buckle has a leather rest or billet, also lined.  Both saber hangers are the rounded style, high grade sewn leather around a horsehair interior.  The clasps, rivets and parade hook are uncleaned and show a warm patina. 

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-261

Model 1859 McClellan Saddle

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Shown is an early Civil War Model 1859 McClellan saddle.

Regulations for the 1859 pattern called for sweat leathers, stirrup hoods, unspaded "D” rings (which suspend the girth straps) and did not require contractor’s markings.  The tree design also featured a more vertical pommel than later saddles.

The brass shield on the pommel of this saddle is marked "3" denoting the large 12” size cantle.  Also soldier inscribed in the brass shield in block letters is "76 K."  The pommel is pierced with a mortise which is protected by a brass plate on the front.  The uniform coloration, usage, and condition of all its leather mountings indicate that they are original to each other.  The sweat leathers show some use, both have all the stirrup strap loops present, but the sweat leathers are likely added to the rig. The stirrups are solid, with strong wooden frames that have no splits or damage and each is equipped with its hood as per regulations for the Model 1859.

The rawhide which covers the saddle tree is complete with no splits on the visible surfaces, and has a pleasant aged, caramel color. The skirts are in full form and supple, and the saddle bag retaining straps are intact on both of the skirts. The quarter straps and girth straps are full length.This saddle is pictured with saddle bags in place.  It also carries the correct carbine thimble attached to the offside D ring.  The cantle has three coat strap mortises which are protected by brass oval guard plates fastened to the seat with brass nails.  The front quarter-straps are attached to the pommel arc with two rivets and a hooked stud at the top center.

These saddles draw their name from their original designer, George McClellan who obtained approval from the US Army for his design in 1859.  With a few modifications along the way, the McClellan saddle remained in use by the US military until its last cavalry units were dismounted in World War II.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-258

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