Major General J.E.B. Stuart, the Confederacy’s famed beau sabreur, justifiably is best known as the dashing commander of the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry units. But in October 1859, while serving as a U.S. Army lieutenant and stationed at Fort Riley in the Kansas Territory, Stuart hit “pay dirt” as an inventor. The 26-year-old Virginian filed for and eventually received U.S. Patent #25,684: “Improved Method of Attaching Sabers to Belts.” Stuart claimed that his new brass-and-leather saber hanger made it much easier for a cavalryman to quickly remove his saber, scabbard, and suspension straps from the standard army belt. The U.S. Army agreed, paid Stuart a “right to use” license fee of $5,000 ($143,000 today), and through 1864 produced thousands of the tools Stuart had invented.
Whether they produced battlefield images of the dead or daguerreotype portraits of common soldiers, […]
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