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Sword Belts & Hangers


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I have questions. And, I have some information to share about sword belts and hangers for the Model 1902 Army Officer Sabre. The questions relate to the dates of introduction for various sword belts & hangers but I thought it might be better here in the edged weapons section rather than getting lost in another section.


The most well known belt and hanger system for US Army Officers during the 20th Century has been the Sam Browne belt and chain sword hanger. I know these were not authorized to be worn in the US homeland during WWI but could be worn in Europe by the AEF until circa 1919. They were widely worn after the late 1920s. When was the Same Browne authorized for the AEF and later in the homeland? When was the chain hanger authorized?




There are variations of this sword hanger and the belt attachment method. Some were attached directly to a D ring on the belt as above and some were attached with a removable leather frog.




I think these are mostly manufacturer variations but is there an introduction date that these belts and chains were authorized for all Army Officers?



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Concurrent with the AEF wearing the Sam Browne belt and cross strap during WWI, the rest of the US Army was wearing the russet leather belt for Officers and Enlisted Men that some, including Dorsey, call the Model 1903 equipments. Officers wore the "Model 1903 Hangers" which consisted of two russet leather straps with bronzed fittings. They were attached with a bronzed brass fitting with a D ring that fit over the belt. Usually, there was also a russet leather frog to protect the coat from wear from the brass fittings. When was this belt actually authorized? When were these leather hangers authorized?




There are variations of this belt and hangers with bright brass fittings. I presume these outfits post-date the ones with bronzed fittings but perhaps they pre-date the bronzed ones? Were these replaced with the Sam Browne with bright brass fittings? When were these bright brass equipments worn or authorized?



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Here is an undated catalog page from Henderson-Ames showing the then "New Regulation" Sam Browne belt. Please notice a couple of things... first of which are the use of two cross straps and secondly the many leather equipment hangers for various items that can be worn on the belt. Also notice that the old regulalion leather sword hangers are shown in wear on the belt. The chain sword hanger is also shown and presumably is "New Regulation" equipment as well.



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The chain was authorized in Ordnance Memorandum No. 1715, dated 5 October 1914.


The Officer's Belt



....The leather saber attachment formerly used is replaced by a chain saber attachment, as shown in Plate IX. This chain saber attachment is of 27 percent nickel steel throughout and is finished bright.


The crossed straps shown in your last image were authorized for field use in General Order 132, dated 31 December 1902.

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The chain was authorized in Ordnance Memorandum No. 1715, dated 5 October 1914.

The crossed straps shown in your last image were authorized for field use in General Order 132, dated 31 December 1902.




Many thanks for the date citations! I am still having problems with this catalog page though since this "New Regulation Sam Brown Belt For All Officers" must postdate the chains since they are on the same page. Perhaps there were crossed straps (31 Dec 1902) authorized for the earlier belt as well? That would make sense to me in that the double straps could be on the earlier (1902 - 1903 - 1904 [depending upon who is writing] Model belt) or the later Sam Browne belt. Frankly, this particular few years confuses the heck out of me.


To add to my confusion are the existence of black leather belts and sword hangers during this time period as well. I believe that these were worn for "Undress" under the old regulations as well as by militia units.




These leather officer sword slings commonly have a boxed brass snap attachment at the top with an attached regain hook. These slings are made in generally the same manner as black or russet leather or as bullion faced "Dress" hangers for the M1902 sword.

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Here is a boxed set of accouterments for a NY State Militia Lieutenant which consist of a black belt and black leather hangers. I can easily understand the various state militias being out of step with the US Army regulations since they tended to march to their own drummer.



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Here is a set of roughly the same style of leather hangers in russet leather instead of black. Notice that the brass fittings are bronzed and not finished bright.




And, a shot of the back of the hangers showing the snap at the top and the construction of the leather slings.



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I received information that Randy Steffen refers to the Sam Browne with double straps crossed front and back as the model 1921 and with straps crossed only in back as the model 1924. The difference appears to simply be the manner in which the double cross straps are worn on the belt. That would make the outfit shown in the catalog the model 1921 it seems.


Here are a couple of more hangers for the model 1902 Army Officer Sabre. These are bullion full dress hangers for a Lieutenant or Captain of Artillery.




Closeup view showing the red branch stripe in the bullion facing and the gilt buckles and hooks on the slings.




Another hanger for higher grade S&F officers. These hangers do not have branch piping in the gold bullion facings. These bullion slings follow the same style as the bullion belts for these ranks.




General Officer sword hangers also follow the style of the GO belt having red (Russia) leather slings with three broad bullion wire stripes.

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  • 4 years later...

I thought I would resurect this thread as there is a new companion thread in the WWI section that directly relates to US sword belts and hangers during WWI. Some very well documented information is available on this subject in this related thread.




I also noticed that while I mentioned the General Officer sword hangers I failed to post a photo of them. Here is a photo of the General Officer hangers mentioned in the post above.



1902 Gen hanger.JPG

1902 Gen hanger back.JPG

1902 Gen hanger buckles.JPG

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In the regulations of the era, the belt for general officers is described as 'red Russia leather'. For BG's, a buff sash was worn, I believe with a different belt underneath -- typically web or fabric but with provision for attaching a saber hanger. MGs, LTGs and GENs wore their sashes over the shoulder and the red Russia leather belt around the waist.


This cloth belt typically had a buckle and was also worn under the dress coat, the one with shoulder straps and mohair trim. If the sword was worn with this coat, the slings came out through the longer slit on the left side of the coat.


I will see if I can find my example later on.



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Thank you gents!


The General Officer hangers were made by Ridabock and are so marked on the top fitting. Notice the buckle is manufactured with two prongs so as not to disturb the bullion stripes. An elegant solution IMHO. I would love to see your example Gil.


BTW, I have a Model 1895 blue officer coat that has a buttoned flap for the sword hangers in the left waist seam. This is a variation of wearing the hangers on an underbelt that allows them to be worn through the long slit on the left side of the coat as you describe. The coat is a WWI period named coat BTW.




1895 uniform 2.JPG

1895 unif front.JPG

1895 uniform sword slot.JPG

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  • 2 months later...

I thought I would add the Model 1910 web garrison belt and hangers to this discussion of sword belts and hangers. The 1910 Officer’s Garrison Belt (olive drab & khaki webbing) was made by Mills and issued to Infantry Officers to carry the Model 1902 Army Officer Saber. Cavalry Officers continued to wear the leather belts and hangers.



Mills hangers and frog.JPG

Mills hangers back.JPG

Mills hangers markings.JPG

Mills frog markings.JPG

Mills belt markings.JPG

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