I am not sure if anyone is aware of this but I just learned of the passing last March of an exceptional historian, author and the Smithsonian Institution’s former Curator Emeritus, Mr James Hutchins. Mr Hutchins has made some wonderful contributions to our historical knowledge of 19th century saddlery and military equipment. One of the most notable was his contributions in MAN MADE MOBILE as author of the chapter entitled “Western Saddles before the Cowboy” - a ground breaking work at the time and still an incredible landmark to our understanding of 19th century saddle evolution.
In addition, as a noted authority on the Battle of the Little Big Horn Mr Hutchins wrote several important articles and the book BOOTS AND SADDLES AT THE LITTLE BIG HORN, WEAPONS, DRESS, EQUIPMENT, HORSES & FLAGS OF CUSTER’S SEVENTH CAVALRY IN 1876. He also wrote or edited other important works including HORSE EQUIPMENTS AND CAVALRY ACCOUTREMENTS; ARMY NAVY JOURNAL ON THE BATTLE OF THE LITTLE BIG HORN AND RELATED MATTERS, 1876-1881; WHEEL BOATS ON THE MISSOURI and many others.
Mr Hutchins was also very generous and kind to other historians and authors always sharing information and giving his time. On this personal note I owe Mr Hutchins a great debt of gratitude. In 2000 he graciously consented to proof, edit and then write a review for the Journal of the Company of Military Historians of my first book CONFEDERATE SADDLES & HORSE EQUIPMENTS in spite of the fact I was a no-name amateur author with no credentials or major published works. He continued to assist me by writing another review in the Journal for my second book, MADE IN THE C.S.A., Saddle Makers of the Confederacy. Strangely, I never met the man but had the most good fortune of sharing many hours and a lot of correspondence, time, stories and research information over many years. He was always the consummate gentleman with ethics, humility and manners of the bygone era.
Mr Hutchins suffered debilitating health issues the last couple of years including heart troubles since at least 2002. He is and will be missed by those that appreciate well researched and well written historical works.
Ken R Knopp