OED Online Word of the Day (McClellan)

McClellan, n.

Mar. 2009 Brit. /m{schwa}{sm}kl{ope}l{schwa}n/, U.S. /m{schwa}{sm}kl{ope}l({schwa})n/ Forms: 18- McClellan, 18- M’Clellan, 18-McLellan (irreg.). [< the name of George B. McClellan (1826-85), U.S. army officer and commander of the Army of the Potomac 1861-2.] {dag}

1. U.S. Army slang. McClellan pie n. (also McClellan’s pie) a piece of hard biscuit of a kind issued to troops under McClellan’s command during the American Civil War. Obs. 1863 Brief Narr. Incidents War in Missouri 21 Our fare hard crackers (which we called McClellan pie..), bacon-side, and coffee for breakfast and supper.

1863 Army & Navy Jrnl. 10 Oct. 99 The old soldier who has received more hard knocks and ‘McClellan’s pies’ than fame or greenbacks. 1864 F. C. ADAMS Story of Trooper 587 ‘McClellan pies’, as the soldiers called their hard bread, came to be a luxury.

2. attrib. Designating a type of saddle with a wooden leather-covered frame and a high pommel and cantle, invented by McClellan and formerly used by the U.S. cavalry. Alsoabsol.

1864 Army & Navy Jrnl. 20 Feb. 402 The McClellan saddle seems to be the general favorite. 1866 J. E. COOKE Surry xxii. 83 His saddle was a plain ‘McClellan tree’ strapped over a red blanket for saddle cloth. 1885 W. D. HOWELLS Rise Silas Laphamii. 47 A burly mounted policeman, bulging over the pommel of his M’Clellan saddle, jolted by. 1901 F. NORRIS Octopus I. v. 161 In the corners of the room were muddy boots, a McClellan saddle, a surveyor’s transit, an empty coal-hod, and a box of iron bolts and nuts. 1935 in V. Randolph Pissing in Snow (1976) 85 The McClellan is an old-style army saddle, and there ain’t no horn on it. 1940 W. V. T. CLARK Ox-bow Incidentii. 124 He didn’t have a stock saddle either, but a little, light McLellan. 1981 E. HARTLEY-EDWARDS Country Life Bk. Saddlery & Equipm. 98/3 The earliest McClellan saddles did not have panels.

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2 thoughts on “OED Online Word of the Day (McClellan)

  1. Tim Abbott

    Ah the McClellan saddle. We used to search the old barns and antique stores in the Hudson Valley for the descendants of these: the hollow tree 1904 McClellan 1904 artillery saddle. Believe it or not we found a couple (one was being used as decoration in a restaurant in Millbrook, NY). They could be converted for Civil War reenacting purposes at a fraction of the cost of a new reproduction. I’ve ridden one of these and it did the job of protecting both withers and nether regions.

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