Virginia Cavalry Sword
Item #: OS-6461
The Secretary of War, Virginia’s John B. Floyd, in March of 1860 directed that 1,200 Ames manufactured swords be forwarded to the State of Virginia.
Bvt. Maj. WA. Thornton
N.Y Arsenal Ordnance Office
Washington March 22, 1860
I transmit, hereto appended, a copy of a letterfrom the Sec. Of War directing that the inspection of certainsabers which are beingmade by Ames& Co. for the state of Va. An d in accordance with the direction therein you are hereby instructed to take the necessary measures for making the inspection under the same rules and regulations as for similar arms made for the U. States. I presume that the commissioner named in saidletter will furnishyou with furtherdata as to the number and kind of sabers to be inspected, if not it willbe advisable for you to correspond with Mr. Ames on the subject.
You willemploy the usualsub-inspector on thisduty and pay themin the ordinary manner and if no tenderof payment be made to you by the commissioners you will, after the inspection is completed, transmitto this office,an account of the expense incurredin the execution of this duty, including your own transportation. If you have to travel in connectionwith this duty especially.
H.K. Craig, Col. of Ordnance
In addition, there is a letter regarding payment for inspecting these Virginia sabers and a letter to W.A. Thornton from H.K. Craig on August 30, 1860, regarding the sabers, mentioning that 1,200 is the number to be sold to the State of Virginia. Clearly John B. Floyd was sending material South. However, it was all within a legal framework, and Floyd no doubt considered it his duty. And it was not until Lincoln had been inaugurated on March 4, 1861 that an embargo was ordered.
Fortunately for modern collectors, we can identify those specific swords. From the March 22, 1860 letter to the New York Arsenal, we know that the swords under discussion were manufactured between March and September of the same year. Meaning that all of the blades were stamped 1860. Furthermore, the Virginia cavalry swords were devoid of U.S. markings, as well as the ADK (inspector King) stamp. Therefore, they can be positively identified by both markings, and the lack thereof of certain markings.
The Model 1860 cavalry sword shown here, is a near pristine example of these Virginia cavalry swords. One side of the ricasso is stamped simply "1860” and the other side is stamped with Ames name and address.
As mentioned, its condition is near mint; grip 100%, wrap 100%, guard tight, throat washer intact, blade bright, scabbard perfect and dent free. In other words, there may be its equal, but its superior cannot exist.
I see swords bearing an 1859 date or 1860 date, and having U.S. inspector marks for sale, advertised as Virginia swords. They are not; this is the only acceptable configuration, and they are exceedingly rare in this configuration.
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