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It must be an awful feeling to be in the middle of a melee of horsemen and suddenly you drop your saber. There are no "time outs" in mounted warfare. To prevent just such an occurrence, the US Army issued leather saber knots to it's mounted arm. The knot - a leather strap with a tasseled end and either one or two sliding loops - was looped over the bow of the guard on the saber, and, when drawn, was also looped around the soldier's wrist. If you lost your grip, your saber was still attached and you might live to fight another day. During the filming of Errol Flynn's "They Died With Their Boots On", they filmed one of the Civil War cavalry charges. A young extra named Ralph Budlong was thrown from his horse and was impaled on his saber which landed blade up beneath him. He died several days later. I first saw this mentioned in a magazine review of someone selling saber knots for reenactors, stressing the importance of maintaining control of your weapon. Yes, I did buy one.
I'm giving my Civil War artillery fetish a rest and returned to the cavalry of the Civil War and Indian Wars. Some of the figures in progress will require saber knots, so I finally got to work building some. I've built a few 1/1 scale knots and constructed the 1/6 version the same way. After cutting tassels 2/3 of the way up on a strip of leather, it was cut into short lengths and glued to one end of the wrist strap. The strap was doubled and the tassel was wound around the doubled strap and glued in place. The loose end of the strap can still be removed. (The originals had a small hole punched in the loose end. After looping on the saber, you were to pull one of the inner tassels through the hole to secure that end of the strap.) Two loops were formed and wrapped around the strap, gluing them so they can still slide. On real CW knots, leather lace is braided around the head above the tassels. Difficult in 1/1, I wasn't going to try in 1/6. Instead I made what many replica knots have - a strip of leather was glued around the tassel with stamping to simulated woven lace. This is how they look in progress:



I left a couple undyed so they could be painted white for early dragoon figures from the 1830's and 1840's. This photo shows the wide knots on BGT sabers, with one on a soldier's wrist to show proper use. The third saber shows the knot looped through itself around the guard, as was also done. The narrow knot is a Model 1885 version, and the final one is the only commercial one I'm familiar with, as found on some of the Sideshow Toys sabers.



Now it's back to work on carbine slings. Then the figures. Thanks for looking.
 

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Nice work!

A big "thanx" for the concise "what" and "why" explanation along with the "how to"! The Civil War and post bellum period are not high on my interests list (yet!), but every little bit of knowledge is priceless... thanx for sharing this!

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