The Confederate officer’s 1850's British (Crimean War era) Numnah (saddle blanket/pad)
I would like to take a survey of those that might be interested in this never before reproduced item. I have an experienced tradesman now working making a replica of the 1850's era British numnah. A month or so ago I sent him some information, measurements and photos of Crimean War era numnahs. Since then we have found some good material and have decided upon the material, color, thickness, shape and accessories (proper leather safes, trim, etc.) to make these as close as to the originals as we can get right now. It looks like we can make them for about $85 plus shipping. (Moderators: This is "cost" I am not a vendor!)
If you are interested in obtaining one of these please email me back as soon as possible. Do not send any money. We are just surveying the field to see how many might be interested in this item. SERIOUS INQUIRES ONLY!!
The following is an excerpt from my book (CONFEDERATE SADDLE & HORSE EQUIPMENT) with additional new information on the subject:
SADDLE BLANKETS, NUMNAHS & CLOTHS:
English cavalry saddle blankets were of wool, usually natural white or brown in color and made large, 65" x 56" for folding under the saddle, sometimes in as many as sixteen folds. 23. Confederate Ordnance records show only a very small number of "horse blankets" were imported as well as a few "grey" blankets, however large numbers of bales, simply described as either "blankets" or "numnahs", were shipped through the Blockade. 24.
Numnahs: The numnah was Russian in origin but was adopted by the British Army from India. (Fig. 6) Period British military numnahs were made of thick woolen or felt, cut to fit from the shoulder to the hips of the horse and meant to be worn under the saddle. (Two sizes were made. One quite large and the other more the size of a modern "folded" blanket.) They weighed (3.5 lb to) 5 lb, 6 oz. 25. Several thousand of these were imported in "bales" by the Ordnance Bureau beginning early in the War through 1864. 26. Numnahs were sold (with a complete set of officer’s equipment for $125 (in 1864 price increased to $160) and replacements could be purchased, generally for $25 each. 27. British numnahs and blankets may have been occasionally (rare) issued to the enlisted trooper when supplies permitted.
There is no doubt thousands of British numnahs were imported by the Confederacy. In the early 1860's the Brits were conveniently changing over their cavalry saddlery to the Universal Pattern saddles. These new 1856 model Wooden arch UP saddles had numnah pads attached to the underside of the fans (bars) rather than as a detached item. Given the changeover taking place in British military saddlery at the time some of these Confederate imports were likely Crimean War military "surplus" and probably also included some new ones provided by contractors too. Upon arrival through the Blockade (Wilmington, Charleston and elsewhere) they were generally shipped by rail to Confederate arsenals where most were "sold" to CS officers either as part of a "set" of British (or domestic made) saddlery or, separately for about $25 each. Occasionally, a few were issued to privates (again emphasize RARE) until very late in the war when the arsenals purged their stores issuing remaining items to anyone including enlisted men.
The Southern ordnance department intended the numnahs to go under the saddle and saddle cloth for officer’s equipments and were normally sold with a saddle cloth however, they were often sold separately. I have seen many, many pieces of correspondence indicating all levels of commissioned officers from Lieutenants on up including staff officers, surgeons, quartermasters and ordnance officers purchasing them directly from the arsenals. (These would make a great under pad for officers saddlery especially those that are authentic enough to consder using a saddle cloth!)
Saddle Cloths: This was a blue cloth cover lined with leather and usually adorned with gold lace trimmings. 28. It was secured by a surcingle and went over the saddle from front to rear, including a tapered swallow tail which covered the flanks of the horse. This item often accompanied the set of equipment sold to Confederate officers.
** See Chapter Three in my book (CONFEDERATE SADDLES & HORSE EQUIPMENT) for more information on types of British saddles and other horse equipment imported by the South.
I must admit that despite of years of research on the matter I am working with somewhat limited information but it is my belief that these reproduction numnahs will approximate to the best of my ability those imported into the Confederacy. I hope to have a finished prototype in a month or so.
Gents, we will officially debut this unique, never before reproduced British imported Confederate item at the Cavalry Congress in July 13-15 (see www.cavalrycongress.com) but let me know now if your interested in obtaining one of these. AGAIN, SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY!!
Ken R Knopp