Original U.S. Indian War M1885 Carbine Boot Scabbard First Pattern by Rock Island Arsenal

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very interesting example of a Model 1885 carbine boot scabbard. This boot exhibits a well documented anomaly found only on early production specimens.

As discussed in detail on pages 139, 148, and 149 in Dorsey’s Indian War Cartridge Pouches, Boxes and Carbine Boots, these early production First Pattern Boots show evidence of having been assembled incorrectly at the Rock Island Arsenal. Apparently, either through an incorrectly executed drawing, or a error on the part of the bench workers in viewing the drawing, a significant number of these first pattern boots were assembled in reverse at the arsenal and shipped out to the units in this configuration.

The covered over rivet hole at the upper left hand corner of the face of this boot is evidence that it was improperly assembled with the suspension strap riveted to the outside face as if it were designed to hang on the left side of the saddle, instead of as it was designed to hang on right hand side. These incorrectly assembled boots apparently passed inspection and were issued to the cavalry companies on the frontier as some examples with the strap still in the incorrect position have been seen with unit applied inventory stamps, indicating the boot was accepted into the unit inventory and was stamped with the unit inventory number in preparation for being issued to a soldier without anyone questioning the design flaw.  As is the case with this boot, it is believed the majority of these incorrectly assembled boots were modified by moving the suspension strap to back of the boot.

Also present is another typical early field modification. The lower body strap has not been moved up the body of the boot. The modification in this configuration, the two body straps virtually divide the length of the boot in thirds and evidently improved the security of the boot when attached to the saddle then was affected by the original placement of the straps.

In spite of obvious issue and use, this boot is in full form and has survived in excellent condition with a bright, smooth shiny leather surface overall.  All of the straps are full length and the buckles are present.  The ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL stamp is fully legible as are the unit inventory stamps, as is the inspector’s stamp on the end of the upper suspension strap.

This Model 1885 Carbine Boot is a historical specimen as an example of one of the more interesting episodes of Rock Island Arsenal history.

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