|Posted by Jay Longley on December 4, 2015 at 7:30 PM|
I received this email from Ken McPheeters a few months ago. He was seeking information on some suspected Knights of the Golden Circle relics that he had acquired. I was able to authenticate them for him. I have his photos in a new album in our Photos section - http://knightsofthegoldencircle.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=15937283
Good evening Jay,
I am the owner of McPheeters Antique Militaria and I am located in Comal County , not far from New Braunfels and just north of San Antonio . In the course of researching a group of artifacts I found your contact information and I am in hopes you may be able to help me.
Some years ago I purchased an Civil War era McClellan Saddle from northeast Texas . The saddle is of the style of other known private purchase saddles, acquired by officers and in some cases enlisted men, with their own funds as opposed to those issued by the army. Since the McClellan was the standard pattern issued by the army, many of these private purchase saddles followed the same design with some additional embellishments, determined by the financial ability of the purchaser. Of particular note on this saddle were two 1” diameter silver colored medallions – one on each side of the pommel – which bear identical “star and crescent” designs.
A few years later, a collector here in Texas purchased a Colt M1851 pistol from a family estate east of Corpus Christi . The grip was decorated with an inlaid silver star and crescent design on one side and three silver stars on the other. At the time of the purchase, the family members told him that the original owner of the pistol had served in the Confederacy, had been a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle , and he had the grips so decorated in association with his membership in the organization. Knowing about the medallions on my saddle, the new owner of the pistol shared the information regarding the decoration on grips and the original owner’s affiliation with the KGC.
This same collector eventually located two other Colt pistols of the same vintage, both with similar star and crescent decorations on the grips. Like the first Colt, these two were both located in small communities in the coastal plain between Corpus Christi and Galveston . Neither of these two pistols were accompanied by any provenance or history relating them to a member of the KGC.
It never rains but it pours. I was contacted by a couple in Vermont who in the course of building collection of antique bridle bits, purchased a mid-19th Century European bit decorated with brass medallions bearing the same star and crescent design as the medallions on my saddle. The importation of horse equipment from Europe was not unusual during the 1800’s, especially during our Civil War and in particular by the Confederacy. While the bit did not have any provenance or history attached to it, having studied the horse equipment of the period, I am inclined to think both the bit and the presence of the medallions is genuine and most probably dates to the era of the Civil War.
The final artifact to surface is a Morgan Saddle that was part of an identified Confederate Texas soldier’s grouping. The saddle has two of the exact same medallions on the pommel that are present on my saddle. The soldier served with Texas cavalry units during the war and brought the saddle home with him. In addition to the provenance, the saddle is also fitted with iron stirrups which have a star cast into the tread – a known pattern of stirrup that has been closely associated with Civil War Texas cavalry units. It is distinctly possible that the soldier rode this saddle from Texas into the war, and managed to keep it to bring it home, and that it was something he owned before or at the onset of the war.
I have attached photos of all of these pieces to this email."