Original U.S. Civil War M1851 U.S. Army Mounted Service Cavalry Enlisted Saber Belt
Original Item: Only One Available. This belt is a fine example of the early, original buff leather, Model 1851, sword belt worn by Federal enlisted cavalrymen prior to and during the Civil War. It remains in overall good condition, with its original, bench numbered, regulation 1851 pattern, brass eagle belt plate, with its keeper; the belt plate has a one-piece, applied silver wreath. Both long and short leather sword straps and the brass cavalry hook are present. Constructed of strong bridle leather, the belt measures 34″ long, 1¾” wide and exhibits a surface that was dyed black on its exterior side, per army regulations of 1851. The leather is in good condition but does have cracking and flaking; some traces of aged verdigris throughout.
The end of the leather belt is run through the rectangular M1851 brass sword belt plate loop and clasped together by means of the early style, flattened brass hook. A separate leather adjuster loop secures the connection. The brass keeper is sewn and riveted to the opposite end of the leather belt. Stitched to the belt exterior, near the keeper, are two, brass D-ring suspension loops that serve to anchor the over-the-shoulder strap and short sword strap. Belt retains its original pair of 2″ long, horizontal leather loops that are stitched on the exterior surface and secure a large, square, 1¾” brass suspension ring which supports the long saber strap and anchors the over-the-shoulder strap which is unfortunately missing.
The regulation 1851 pattern, brass, eagle waist belt plate is the rectangular, concave, detailed plate that measures approximately 83 mm long x 53 mm high, the cast brass plate has an integral tongue on the reverse and the one-piece, nickel-silver wreath terminating beneath the eagle’s wings. The wreath remains strongly secured to the front face. The plate face has an even patina and exhibits well-defined edges. The back of the plate is stamped 169.
The longer sword strap hanger’s total length measures 21 ¼” with both ends looped back and secured. The shorter sword strap hanger’s total length measures 12″ long, with both ends looped back. Both straps would loop through the suspension rings on the trooper’s scabbard. All the brass hardware retains a nice, aged patina.
This is a very nice example of an early Civil War used Cavalry Saber belt. This would display nicely in any pre Civil War or Civil War themed collections and displays nicely!
History of the U.S. Cavalry
The United States Cavalry, or U.S. Cavalry was the designation of the mounted force of the United States Army by an act of Congress on 3 August 1861. This act converted the U.S. Army's two regiments of dragoons, one regiment of mounted riflemen, and two regiments of cavalry into one branch of service. The cavalry branch transitioned to the Armored Forces with tanks in 1940, but the term "cavalry", e.g. "armored cavalry", remains in use in the U.S. Army for mounted (ground and aviation) reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) units based on their parent Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS) regiment. Cavalry is also used in the name of the 1st Cavalry Division for heraldic/lineage/historical purposes. Some combined arms battalions (i.e., consisting of a combination of tank and mechanized infantry companies) are designated as armor formations, while others are designated as infantry organizations. These "branch" designations are again, heraldic/lineage/historical titles derived from the CARS regiments to which the battalions are assigned.
The Mexican-American War (1846–1848) "had resulted in adding a vast territory to our national domain, and the government was bound, in the interests of civilization, to open this immense area to settlement...the country between the Missouri River and California... was occupied by powerful and warlike tribes of Indians." To protect new settlers moving into and living in the new territories, soldiers had to patrol it, but the size of the army had remained fixed. In 1855, at the request of General Winfield Scott Congress added the 1st and 2nd Cavalry regiments to the U.S. Army.
Congress originally created the 1st U.S. Dragoons in 1833. The 2nd U.S. Dragoons, and the U.S. Mounted Riflemen followed in 1836 and 1846 respectively. Prior to "1833 mounted troops were raised (in 1808 and 1812) as emergencies presented themselves and were disbanded as soon as these had passed." The newly designated forces were often influenced after American cavalry units employed during the American Revolutionary War. The traditions of the U.S. Cavalry originated with the horse-mounted force which played an important role in extending United States governance into the Western United States, especially after the American Civil War (1861–1865), with the need to cover vast ranges of territory between scattered isolated forts and outposts of the minimal resources given to the stretched thin U.S. Army.
Significant numbers of horse mounted units participated in later foreign conflicts in the Spanish–American War of 1898, and in the Western Front battlefields of Europe in World War I (1917–1918), although numbers and roles declined.
Immediately preceding World War II (1941–1945), the U.S. Cavalry began transitioning to a mechanized, mounted force. During the Second World War, the Army's cavalry units operated as horse-mounted, mechanized, or dismounted forces (infantry). The last horse-mounted cavalry charge by a U.S. Cavalry unit took place on the Bataan Peninsula, in the Philippines in early 1942. The 26th Cavalry Regiment of the allied Philippine Scouts executed the charge against Imperial Japanese Army forces near the village of Morong on 16 January 1942.
"In March 1942 the War Department eliminated the office of Chief of Cavalry...and the horse cavalry was effectively abolished." The cavalry name was absorbed into the Armor branch as part of the Army Reorganization Act of 1950. The Vietnam War saw the introduction of helicopters and operations as a helicopter-borne force with the designation of Air Cavalry, while mechanized cavalry received the designation of Armored Cavalry.
Today, cavalry designations and traditions continue with regiments of both armor and aviation units that perform the cavalry mission. The 1st Cavalry Division is the only active division in the United States Army with a cavalry designation. The division maintains a detachment of horse-mounted cavalry for ceremonial purposes.
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