Old South Military Antiques

Leech & Rigdon Foot Officer’s Sword
Item #: OS-6955








The maker of this beautiful sword is Leech & Rigdon. Thomas S. Leech, had moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1854 to establish a cotton dealership. It was financed by his partners: his brother John B. Leech, Thomas Harrison, Sir Arthur Forwood, and Sir William Bower Forwood of Liverpool, England. Leech opened the firm of Thomas Leech & Co., Cotton Broker, at 35 Front Row Street in Memphis. As war became imminent, Leech formed a new partnership with S.B. Carver and J. F. Frank. They began to expand their business to include war material. The Military items were sold under the name of "Memphis Novelty Works Thomas Leech & Co.” Under this name the company manufactured Swords, Side Knives, Belts, Buckles and Pistols. Leech later formed a partnership with Charles H. Rigdon and renamed the partnership Leech & Rigdon in 1862.

With the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson in the spring of 1862 and the subsequent fall of the state of Tennesseeinto Union hands, Leech and Rigdon decided to relocate their business to Columbus, Mississippiand build a factory adjacent to the Confederate Briarfield Arsenal. Later in 1862, with Sherman making a threat to Mississippi, the Confederate Government decided to relocate the arsenal to Selma, Alabama. Leech and Rigdon relocated with the Arsenal and remained in Selmafor a short period. In March of 1863 Leech and Rigdon separated from the arsenal and moved their operations to Goldsboro, Georgia.

During the period from November 6, 1861 through June 18, 1862, Thomas Leech & Co. Memphis Novelty Works, delivered to the Confederate Army Depot 2,017 swords and scabbards, belts, buckles and side arms. On July 26, 1862 Leech & Rigdon delivered 750 sets of gun mountings at $3.00 per set and 7 swords at $25.00 each; on August 4th another 30 swords were delivered as well as 400 pairs of spurs at $1.75 each.

The Leech & Rigdon sword shown here is a rare variant, having no leather on the grip, it was merely painted black and wound with two strands of twisted brass wire. The blade is unusual also; it has no etching, a long reverse edge, and is nearly straight, unlike the usually encountered L & R blade. The scabbard’s leather seam is turned to the outside and has scalloped ring mounts, rather than the more common standard L & R mounts.

Condition wise, the sword is as close to perfect as any sword I have ever seen, its worst flaw is that it does not have the throat washer, otherwise it is in new, but aged condition. It looks as if someone rolled it in a blanket and didn't open it again for 150 years.
Price $19,950.00 USD