General Reynolds' Saddle 

Gettysburg Museum & Visitors Center

HISTORIC OVERVIEW

During TreatmentOne of nine children, Maj. General John Reynolds was born in Lancaster, PA in 1820. He initially studied near his hometown before attending West Point, where he graduated in 1841. Reynolds received two brevet promotions for gallantry and meritorious conduct during the Mexican War. He was promoted to Commandant of Cadets at West Point, and also served as an instructor of artillery, cavalry, and infantry tactics until the start of the civil war.

 

Reynolds skill, knowledge, and leadership ability was quickly recognized. He was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 14th U.S. Infantry, but before he could engage with the unit, he was promoted to brigadier general.

 

General Reynolds was a well-respected leader despite his mediocre track record when compared to some of his counterparts. Many feel he simply didn't have the opportunity to showcase his talents. However, he did lead some important victories, such as the counter attack at Bull Run. He squashed the advancement of the Rebel army, which proved to be a much-needed moral booster for his men.

 

On July 1, 1863, Reynolds was commanding the "left wing" of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg. He rode ahead of his soldiers into the fighting along Herbst's Woods where he was struck in the back of the neck by a mini ball, and died instantly.

 

PRE-TREATMENT CONDITION

Cleaning Tarnished Silver Concho B.R. Howard & Associates Inc. was selected to provide a conservation treatment to Maj. General John F. Reynolds’ saddle, which now resides at the Gettysburg Museum & Visitors Center in Pennsylvania.

 

The western style saddle is made with decoratively tooled leather panels, with brass stirrups, and silver conchos. Some of the textile stitching has deteriorated and the leather has become brittle. The leather panels on the underside show past insect infestation. There are minor tears along the edge of the rear jockey or housing. The leather stirrup strap is torn and partially detached. Numerous leather panels and components are misshapen and cockled. Copper stearate corrosion is evident on the brass stirrups and fasteners.

 

TREATMENT

Stirrup After Cleaning/Stabilization and Copper stearate RemovalThe saddle was first surfaced cleaned to reduce dust and dirt then a solvent-based solution was used to reduce the old leather dressings and white spewing oil residue. Local humidification to leather components was performed to reshape the portions that were distorted. We used chemical and mechanical methods to reduce and stabilize the copper corrosion. The insect damaged leather panels on the underside were backed and lined with a reversible heat set tissue. The tears were stabilized using heat set sutures. All metal components were cleaned, stabilized and coated with a clear, reversible lacquer. The tarnished silver conchos were polished and coated as well. The entire conservation process was photo documented and a treatment report was generated. The saddle was then carefully packed and transported back to the museum for display.

 


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