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By Steven E. Lillegard
"When Two Cultures Collide" symbolizes the white man's conflict with the American Indian.
Since the 7th was the most famous cavalry unit during the Indian Wars, it was a logical choice to use in the sculpture. The bronze depicts a mid-1870's officer. This sculpture does not represent a particular person or battle. However, the soldier and the horse are equipped much as they would have been going into the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June of 1876.
The differences are that he would not have his bed roll with him as it was carried by the pack train, and he would not have had his saber. Swords were considered of little use in fighting Indians and were often left behind. Only First Lieutenant DeRudio carried his saber into the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Since the saber was sometimes carried and is an important symbol of the cavalry, I decided to include it in this sculpture. Also, some officers and the rank and file didn't have hoods on the stirrups.
The clothing and equipment of the 7th cavalry were a mixture of civilian and military issue, most of which was left over from the Civil War. Many officers wore buckskin clothing with no indication of rank. Their rank was known only by the people they knew personally. The sculpture shows the famous McClellen military saddle, Civil War era saddle bags, and an 1859 bit and bridle. The extra strap on the left side that goes from the shank of the bit to the buckle on the cheek strap is called the link strap. When fighting on foot, every fourth man was designated a horse holder. The link strap allowed the rider to quickly connect his horse to the one next to him so one man could handle four horses.
It wasn't until the ordinance of 1885 that a uniform way to pack a saddle was adopted. Before that, it was left up to the officer in charge. The officer shown in the sculpture has his overcoat rolled and strapped to the pommel (front). The nose bag containing currycomb and brush was attached to the right side of the pommel. On the cantle (rear) is a blanket rolled inside a tent fly and a forage sack containing oats. The canteen is carried on the side of the cantle away from the sun. The haversack containing rations is attached to the left side of the cantle. Side lines and a lariat wrapped around a picket pin are on the left side of the pommel. Side lines are a pair of leather leglets connected by a chain. One was attached to the front and rear legs on one side of the horse. They were used m conjunction with the lariat and picket pin and allowed the horse to walk and graze but not run. into the saddlebags went extra ammunition, a bit of spare clothing, personal items and one front and one hind horseshoe. A tin cup is attached to a saddlebag strap.
The pistol is a .45 caliber colt 1873 six shot single action with a 7 1/2" barrel. His single shot .45 caliber 1873 Springfield carbine is carried in a leather loop (not an issue item) strapped to the pommel as was common with civilian plainsmen. The most common way to carry it was attaching it to a wide leather sling that went over the left shoulder. The barrel is inserted in a socket attached to the "D" ring on the right side of the girth to keep it stable. Another non-issue item is his ammunition belt. These were either made by the individual or company saddler. The extra arc on the left side is for pistol ammunition.