View Full Version : Bridle rosettes

11-09-2011, 10:50 AM
Can someone tell me about the differences I see in Union officer's bridle rosettes? Plain brass convex disks, US, USA, hearts, hearts on disks, eagles, et al. I'm working on a Federal captain's impression for 2012 and wondering if the differences are based on rank, time period, personal preference or location? This is primarily for events that occurred within a radius of 150 miles of Kansas City. This will be a Kansas Volunteer Cavalry Regiment t.b.d., possibly the 5th.
Once it is determined which rosettes are proper, any tips as to where to find a decent repro set would be much appreciated. I'm hoping to be able to attach them to my Nick Duvall 3 buckle headstall.
I have the same questions regarding Shabraques. Bonus points to anyone who can answer both.
Thanks very much in advance,

Ken Knopp
11-09-2011, 11:04 PM
WHOA!! You ask some very good questions! Well, I am not anything but a student but I sure can use the bonus points!
OK, to be clear I have not done a lot of study on this subject matter so will only regurgitate what I have read of other’s published materials. So, don’t take this as gospel cause I really don't know much. Perhaps, others more knowledgeable than I can chime in here and correct me or expand upon my efforts.

First, I do not believe there were “official” rank identified differences in bridle rosettes, nor martingales although “some”, as private purchase items, could and probably were so made that way during the war. From “at least" the 1830's perhaps sooner, eagle motifs of widely varying descriptions were common on bridle rosettes, bit bosses and martingale hearts (and stirrups). The comments below are Federal oriented not Confederate.....

ROSETTES: At times, the US military rosettes were used to denote a military branch, regiment or company designation. This was particularly true in the pre war (1840's and 50's) Dragoon and Mounted Rifle regiments. Naturally, this influence carried over into the CW too. My understanding is that the 1859 and 1863 “regulation issue” cavalry bridles did NOT have bridle rosettes while the regulation artillery bridles did. The M1859 artillery bridle rosette was the common, stacked, circular “button” rosette; the M1862 artillery rosette had the block lettered “US” and the M1863 artillery bridle rosette was the intertwined “USA”. All of which corresponds to the bosses on the regulation artillery bits. CW Federal officer’s bridles were private purchase and therefore decorated at the whim of the purchaser but it appears pre-war patterns and influences were common even among militia and volunteer regiments.

*There were no “official” Confederate rosettes although imported British patterns and again private purchase variations have been seen. Period civilian rosettes are another story entirely.

MARTINGALE HEARTS: Dragoon patterns were heart shaped (apparently). As noted above, Eagle motifs of brass, silver etc. were very, very common from at least the 1830's (probably much sooner) and often included leather and colored cloth backing of wide variances. The 1851 regulations say the “Breast Plate” ...”which is to be a plain brass heart, with the number of the regiment, one inch and one half long, raised thereon.” During the war, neither cavalry nor artillery “issued” horse equipments included breast straps and therefore there were no “issue” martingale hearts. Those seen in books, collections, excavated, etc. were privately purchased (officer’s and enlisted men’s) or, from pre war regulation equipments. In addition to military branches, unit designations, patriotic symbols, etc. they include motifs of eagles, stars, shields, etc.
**Again, like rosettes there were no “official” Confederate martingales although imported British patterns and again private purchase variations have been found.

SADDLE CLOTHS & SCHABRAQUES: NOTE: a saddle cloth went under the saddle while a schabraque went over the saddle. Civil War pattens varied very widely but were of usually of a standard, regulation swallow tail pattern (but not always) of usually blue wool melton or felt with cotton, linen or canvas backing. Leather reinforcements covered areas of high stress. Edges were often trimmed in branch colors sometimes of finely made gilded braid. High ranking officers might have rank designations particularly for generals (Brigadiers with one star, etc.) while line officers were generally but not always, more plain.

Where? To find good repros of what you need? Hmmmm, more difficult. I know Doug Kidd makes saddle cloths and schabraques but I don’t know of anyone else. Rosettes? That’s tougher! Perhaps some others can offer some advice here.

*The above are my un-educated opinions based upon the following sources (I have others but I am too lazy to dig them out):

AMERICAN MILITARY SADDLE, 1776-1945, By Dorsey & McPheeters, Pages 341 354

BOSSES, ROSETTES & MARTINGALE HEARTS, By Stephen Henry NSTCW, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2009, pgs 20-25, 60-61.

HORSE EQUIPMENT OF THE CIVIL WAR ERA, By Howard R Crouch, pgs. 113-129

*For photos of some of these, see my FREE photo offerings on my web site www.confederatesaddles.com under “Dragoon Horse Equipment” and “Federal Horse Equipment”

Ken R Knopp

11-10-2011, 09:39 AM
Ken, once again you've come through in stellar fashion. We are all so fortunate to have your input on this forum. Really cool to learn the distinction between a Shabraque and saddle cloth. The only distinction I had heard before was whether it was made for "under or over" the saddle.
I just saw a pair of "US" rosettes sell on ebay. What I found interesting about them was that they were not a matched set. One was block letters while the other one looks like the style of US that was seen branded on the shoulder or hind quarter of the mount. http://www.ebay.com/itm/280766190790?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649#ht_1250wt_1157
Doug Kidd offers US rosettes but I don't know what they look like as his catalog uses mostly drawings instead of photographs, something I wish he'd change. Blockade Runner sells US rosettes, but the photos reveal that they are shells without the lead back and I can't see them holding up very well at all. The pattern looks more like a WWII style to my eye. They also sell a "Custer" style rosette for the same $12 that look a little more substantial in the way that they attach. http://www.blockaderunner.com/Catalog/catpg27.htm
As for Doug Kidd's Shabraque, I've not looked at one but his price is about the same as buying a complete Mac, plus he needs the saddle it's made for, sent to him. It's beyond my means so I will likely attempt to make a saddle cloth. I've seen eagles, stars, US, regimental numbers and company letters used. Are any of these decorations wrong or farb for a captain? Does anyone have a pattern for a swallow tail saddle cloth?
Thanks again!

The Egyptian Homeguard
11-10-2011, 11:40 AM
Gary, Good luck with a ready made pattern... Look for McPheerers and Dorsey's book and look at the saddlecloths in there. Most of their sizes are given, then draft one out on butcher paper... that's about your easiest option...Z

11-10-2011, 02:12 PM
Excellent, Zack. Thanks.

Mark J.
11-14-2011, 05:31 PM
S&S sells rosettes, all types. Very affordable. You will have to fill the backs with lead yourself.

11-16-2011, 11:37 AM
Thanks, Mark. They don't seem to list them on their web site, however, so I can't see to compare them.

Mark Choate
11-16-2011, 12:05 PM
I have moved this thread from the "Cavalry Discussion" to the "Cavalry COI" forum as it's source inquiry nature is better suited for the COI forum.


11-18-2011, 01:13 PM
Sorry, Mark, and thanks. You might want to move my other thread here as well, regarding the Hardee plume attachment. Maybe then someone will respond... ?