Cowboys usually disdained saddlebags or other accessories, such as water bags or canteens, as they were too heavy to pack on a cow pony. Cowboys usually packed essentials—extra clothes, small personal items—in a canvas bag referred to as a “war sack.” On roundups and trail drives, the cook or the bedroll wagon carried a water barrel.
Cavalrymen, on the contrary, were issued saddlebags in which they carried items such as currycomb and brush, a picket pin for staking out the horse, horseshoes and some horseshoe nails, some rations and extra ammunition.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at email@example.com