Materials: Leather, Metal, Wire
This object is a US Model 1860 Light Cavalry Saber. This model of saber was used during the American Civil War and the Indian Wars by dragoons, mounted riflemen, and cavalry regiments in the Army. Dragoons and cavalry are both soldiers who fight from atop a horse, dragoons are a lighter form of cavalry. The mounted riflemen are soldiers who have been trained to shoot guns from atop of a horse, like the Texas Rangers, and once they are in the midst of a battle they dismount from their horses.
The M1860 Light Cavalry Saber was created to replace the M1840 Heavy Cavalry Saber, which was heavier and longer, but looked exactly the same as its successor. Cavalry from both sides during the Civil War preferred the M1860 Cavalry Saber for use in battle. George Armstrong Custer used the M1860 Saber throughout his military service. Custer started his military career by graduating from West Point and joining the cavalry two months after the Civil War began. Custer was promoted several times during the war, eventually rising to the rank of Major General by the end of the war in 1865. In 1866 he was promoted again to Lieutenant Colonel and placed in command of the newly formed 7th Cavalry Regiment. The 7th Cavalry was charged with protecting settlers from the Platte River in Nebraska to the Staked Plains in Texas, and from the Missouri River to the Rockies and the railroad that crossed the area from attacks from attacks by Native American tribes living on the plains.
The last U.S. saber was issued in 1913. Today officers only carry sabers as a part of their dress uniform. During the 1920s the M1860 saber could be purchased cheaply in bulk. This has made them one of the most commonly seen types of military sabers today. They are commonly seen in Hollywood western movies, Civil War recreation battles, and given as military retirement gifts.
Saber teams also use the M1860 Cavalry Saber when they perform the Saber Arch at weddings and other ceremonies. This tradition started with the United Kingdoms Royal Navy and has carried over to multiple countries, including the United States. The saber arch is a tradition for military weddings and usually takes six people to perform but, can be done with as few as four people. The six line up into two rows with three on each side. The commander then orders them to present the sabers, in which they are to bring their sabers to their chins. After presenting the sabers the commander tells them to arch the sabers, thus creating an arch for people to walk under. [Illa Bennett, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
This sword is a dress sword for the Philippine Constabulary, but was found here in Texas. This sword, though it is from the Philippines, represents an interesting time in American history, the Spanish American war and the subsequent occupation of the Philippines by the United States. During this occupation, there were conflicts between American and Filipino forces.
In the aftermath of the Spanish American war, the United States would find itself in control of the Philippines, which had up to that point been a colony of Spain. The Filipinos however, had already been fighting for independence, and on January 23, 1899 the First Philippine Republic was created, with Aguinaldo as its leader. The Americans had different plans for the Philippines however. President McKinley would release the “Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation,” which called for the United States to take over. This would lead to war between the two young republics.
The initial conflict between the First Philippine Republic and the United States lasted until 1902. After 1902 however, guerilla warfare would continue until 1913. To govern the Philippines as the revolt continued, Congress passed the Spooner Amendment, which authorized the president to create a civil government there. The first civil governor appointed was the future president Howard Taft.
From this new civil government was created the Philippine Commission, which was formed to look over the creation of local governments and maintain law and order. To accomplish this task, the commission saw the need to create a police force made up from the local populace. The Philippine Constabulary was created with the passing of Act No. 175 on July 18, 1901. The job of the Constabulary was to establish law and order, whether it was fighting revolutionaries and guerillas, or patrolling already pacified areas. They would accomplish this task over the next 16 years.
United States involvement in the archipelago would become substantial as the fighting continued. At its peak, the United States Army had 70,000 men trying to pacify the area, not including local forces like the police or the constabulary. [Ryan Farrell, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Stanley, Peter W. Reappraising an Empire: New Perspectives on Philippine-American History. Cambridge, Mass: Published by the Committee on American-East Asian Relations of the Dept. of History in collaboration with the Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1984.
Reproduction Based off of an 1860s Model
Materials: Metal, Leather, Cloth
This canteen is a reproduction of the canteens that would have been issued to the Buffalo Soldiers during the Indian Wars era. Buffalo Soldier is a name that refers to African American soldiers that served in the United States Army during and following the American Civil War.
Before the Civil War, African Americans were not officially permitted to fight in the Army. During the war, combat roles and positions in the army would be opened up to African Americans after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. With this new opportunity, many signed up to serve over the course of the war. Over 175,000 African Americans served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT). From 1863 to the end of the war the USCT fought in 39 major engagements and hundreds of smaller skirmishes.
After the Civil War, the size of the military was cut down drastically. This affected African American units as well. In 1866, Congress called for the creation of six African American regular army regiments. Two of these regiments were cavalry, the 9th and 10th. These six regiments were represented far fewer soldiers than the massive numbers that fought in the Civil War, but they would distinguish themselves with bravery in the post war period. African American troops also served in state militias after the war ended. In 1882, Texas boasted nine companies, with 352 men, and in each state African American troops were 20 to 40 percent of the state militia.
These new regiments of Buffalo Soldiers would have a hard task in front of them in the post Civil War era. This was a time of conflicts between the United States and Native American groups. The first task for the 9th cavalry was to guard mail routes and travel routes in Texas. Native American and Mexican raiders had plagued these routes during the Civil War. Union troops were no longer in the state and the Confederate government was too busy to protect Texas. In the following years the Buffalo Soldiers would see intense fighting in Texas. In 1875 and 1876, there was fighting in west Texas, and the panhandle as well. In the Texas Panhandle was the Red River War.
In the late 1870s, disaster struck the Buffalo Soldiers. 60 men from the 10th cavalry regiment under the command of Captain Nolan got lost scouting for a Comanche war party that had undertaken raids in the area. Due to heat and drought, the expedition dissolved and failed. Four men were court-martialed, and four died. Although segregated into their own units, the Buffalo Soldiers served bravely in the years after the Civil War. [Ryan Farrell, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Barr, Alwyn. “The Black Militia of the New South,” in Brothers to the Buffalo Soldiers: Perspectives on the African American Militia and volunteers, 1866-1917, edited by Bruce Glasrud, 73-85. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011.
“Confederate Soldier Walter W. Williams Dies in Houston, Funeral Held Wednesday” The Franklin Texan
This is the December, 1959 edition of the Franklin Texan. In this issue, the story concerns the death of Walter Williams, a man who claimed to be a former confederate soldier and the last veteran of the Civil War. Texas seceded in 1861, alongside other southern states to form the Confederacy. The Civil War experience for Texas, was different from other states.
Despite the obvious threat of the Union army, there were other threats that were more serious in the minds of many Texans. With the withdrawal of Union troops at the start of the conflict, Texans were concerned that the immediate threat to Texas was from Native American raids. Texan and Native American relations had been complex in Texas, and at the time of the Civil War they had been very strained. Sam Houston, who was the first president of Texas, tried to build better relations. He attempted to enforce trade laws, remove trespassers from native land, uphold hunting rights, and establish fairer treaties. However, successive presidents would reverse these programs. Due to this strain between Texans and Native Americans, conflict would persist throughout the Civil War.
In 1862, Texas would be placed into Trans-Mississippi Department. This was a group of Confederate states, west of the Mississippi river, that were placed under the command of Kirby Smith in 1863. This department was seen as necessary because of the massive distance between these states and the Confederate capital in Richmond. When the Mississippi was taken in 1863, the department would effectively be cut off from the rest of the Confederacy.
In 1863, the invasion of Texas was headed by Nathanial Banks. This invasion was made possible by the Union control of Vicksburg, securing the Mississippi river for the north. Texas was a strategic target for the Union for several reasons. Texas’ border with Mexico allowed them to get around the Union blockade of Confederate ports. Cotton was transported across the border, and shipped to Europe, and supplies and guns were shipped back through the same route. The Union couldn’t blockade Mexico, so they would have to invade to stop the shipments. Another reason also had to do with Mexico. After the start of the Civil War, France invaded Mexico to place a friendly government on the throne. The Union saw this as a threat, and wanted to show force in the region. If Texas and other confederate states could continue to sell its cotton and buy goods, there was a risk that European powers would get involved in the conflict.
In 1865, the last battle of the Civil war would be fought in Texas. The Battle of Palmito Hill would mark the end of resistance in Texas and the remaining confederate states. Next would come reconstruction, and the emergence of a new Texas. [Ryan Farrell, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Materials: leather, brass, lacquer
This object is a helmet, specifically a pickelhaube, from 1904. This helmet is believed to have been worn by the 67th infantry regiment of the Prussian army signified by the eagle shaped plate (or wappen) on the front of the helmet.
The Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm invented this style of helmet in 1842. The original design of the helmet was highly impractical for use when it was first designed – it was much too tall and unbalanced. Soldiers had problems with the helmet falling off and it being much too heavy for use during battle or even drills. In 1856 when King Wilhelm took over from his brother King Friedrich, adjustments were made the helmet so that it was more functional for military use. The height was lessened and the materials adjusted to the style that was kept by the military up until the end of World War I.
The helmet itself consisted of a leather shell with visors on both the front and rear, the latter being used for neck protection. Both visors had brass reinforcement on the trim to help the helmet and visors keep their shape. The leather was covered in a black lacquer that could be polished and kept shiny. Each regiment in the army would have its own wappen, or insignia, in brass or silver on the front of the helmet above the visor. The distinguishing feature of this style of helmet was the spike on the top of the helmet – it was immediately recognizable to everyone at the time as belonging to the the German military.
During World War I, the image of the pickelhaube was used as propaganda against the Germans, as it was something everyone understood to be distinct to German soldiers. There is an iconic image from World War I of a large gorilla wearing a pickelhaube and carrying a unconscious woman with the words “Destroy this Mad Brute” across the top. It was a propagandist poster to encourage people to enlist in the army. The pickelhaube was the most iconic part of the German uniform and was easily incorporated into the idea that Germans were brutes that needed to be stopped.
Propaganda against Germans spread quickly in America. Suspicion of anyone of German descent grew as the war went on and Americans began to become fearful of the thought of German spies living among them. Any German societies, newspapers, or services of any kind were shut down. There are even records of German-Americans getting lynched.
In 1916, the pickelhaube was replaced with the similarly iconic stahlhelm, or steel helmet, because the pickelhaube was not suitable for trench warfare; it was not durable and was very expensive to produce because of the British blockade of South America, where Germany imported the leather for the helmets. The stahlhelm was made out of a single sheet of steel – it was inexpensive, easy to produce, and provided much better protection for the soldiers in combat. The pickelhaube, however, remains one of the most recognizably German styles of World War I military dress.
Visit the Institute of Texan Cultures today to see an exhibit about Texas in the First World War [Caitlin Bernstein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud].
Mid-19th to early 20th Century
This object is an insignia pin for the 10th Cavalry of the United States Army. It was used to distinguish the members of the regiment. The 10th Cavalry was formed in the summer of 1866 as part of the Army Reorganization Act, which was enacted to rebuild the United States Army after the Civil War.
The Civil War had depleted the troops, and the Army needed to replenish their numbers for a peacetime military. As part of their reorganization, the Army created six regiments of black soldiers- two cavalry and four infantry– approved by Congress. These regiments consisted entirely of enlisted black men, but were led by white officers.
Many of the men who joined these regiments had served during the Civil War and were farmers, bakers, painters, and many other occupations. However, the military offered an opportunity for social and economic advancement. As soldiers, these men earned $13 a month, along with food, clothing, and shelter- much more than their other jobs offered.
The 10th Cavalry was formed in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and was commanded by Colonel Benjamin Grierson. Their biggest assignment was to aid in westward expansion and protect American settlements. Tasked with keeping order, they were often confronted with raids by bands of numerous Native American tribes, who were growing more and more desperate due to buffalo- their main food source- going extinct from sport hunting by white settlers and soldiers.
Fighting bravely in over one hundred battles against the Native tribes, even when outnumbered, soldiers like those in the 10th Cavalry earned the respect of tribal leaders. To the tribes, the soldiers’ hair was thick and curly, like that of a buffalo, and the American Indians believed the soldiers were brave like a buffalo, so began calling the black soldiers “Buffalo Soldiers.” It was a term of respect toward what they considered a valiant opponent in battle. The symbol of the buffalo became the regiment’s official insignia in 1922.
Besides their contributions in battle, the soldiers of the 10th Cavalry, as well as the other buffalo soldier regiments, had countless accomplishments. Constantly subjected to racial prejudice, and making due with cast-offs like aging horses and worn out equipment from more prestigious regiments, the buffalo soldiers carried out missions that were vital to America’s success.
In 1871, the 10th Cavalry accompanied General William T. Sherman on an inspection tour of Texas. They were instrumental in mapping the uncharted territories of the state. In addition, they strung thousands of miles of telegraph line, opened new roads, escorted stagecoaches and wagon trains, protected railroad crews, and were the driving force behind building and renovating dozens of frontier forts, including Fort Stockton in west Texas.
The 10th Cavalry, and all buffalo soldiers, hold an enduring legacy in American history. Their success in the face of adversity makes them true heroes, and their contributions to the expansion of the United States can be seen throughout the stories of the American west. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Alamo Safe and Lock Co.
San Antonio, TX
This object is a heavy metal safe, manufactured by Alamo Safe and Lock Co. in the late 19th- early 20th century. It was owned by John Lincoln Clem- an army officer who served in the Civil War.
Clem was born in Newark, Ohio in 1851, with the name John Joseph Klem. When he was young, he changed his middle name to Lincoln because of his deep admiration for President Abraham Lincoln. He also changed the spelling of his last name from “Klem,” to “Clem.” When he was nine, his mother died, and he ran away from home to join the Union army. Although the 3rd regiment out of Ohio wouldn’t accept him because of his age, a year later, the 22nd Infantry Regiment in Michigan let him follow them, adopting him as their unofficial drummer boy and mascot.
He was allowed to officially enlist in 1863, at the age of twelve. Clem, carrying a musket that had been sawed down for him to handle better, became famous after the Battle of Chickamauga. During the battle, he became separated from his group, and was ordered to stop and surrender by a Confederate Colonel. Rather than surrendering, Clem swung around with his musket and fired, shooting the Colonel. He returned safely to Union lines.
As a result of his heroism, he became known as the “Drummer Boy of Chickamauga,” and was promoted to sergeant- the youngest soldier ever to become a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. A month later, he was captured by Confederate soldiers in Georgia and used as a propaganda tactic by the South, who stated “when they have to send their babies out to fight us.” He was soon released in a prisoner exchange with the North.
In 1864, after fighting in several more battles, Johnny Clem was discharged from the army, and returned home to finish school. He graduated high school in 1870 and tried to enlist in West Point. After failing the entrance exam several times, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him as 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army. In 1875, Clem completed artillery school in Virginia, and then transferred to the Quartermaster Department, where he was eventually promoted to captain. Near the end of his career, John Clem was the chief quartermaster at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio (1906-1911).
By the time he retired in 1915, he was 64 years old, had risen to the rank of brigadier general and actively served in the military for 45 years. After retirement, he was promoted to major general. He was officially the last Civil War veteran to actively serve in the United States Army. Clem died in San Antonio in 1937, and was taken to Arlington National Cemetery to be buried.
John Clem lived a life of bravery and adventure. His story has inspired many over the years. The song “The Ballad of Johnny Shiloh,” written by Andrew Landers, commemorates him, and there has been speculation that the popular Civil War song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” was inspired by Clem. Even Walt Disney produced a film in 1963- exactly one hundred years after Clem enlisted- called “Johnny Shiloh,” based on Clem’s time as a young drummer boy in the Union army. John Lincoln Clem was a larger than life, true American patriot and legend. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]