Old South Military Antiques

Leech & Rigdon Floating CS
Item #: OS-7118











The maker of this beautiful sword is Leech & Rigdon. Thomas S. Leech, had moved to Memphis, Tennesseein 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, 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. These would have been primarily enlisted cavalry swords, officers had to purchase their own swords.

The "Floating CS”, so named because of the "CS” hanging mostly open in the air, was a private purchase. The CS in the guard denotes it as a Field & Staff Officer’s Sword, meaning it was more than a weapon; it was a symbol of rank. Only officers above the rank of Major were authorized to carry a F&S sword. However, in the Confederacy, officers of lower rank did occasionally carry the same pattern.

This particular example is the finest that I have had the privilege to own in my 40 years of collecting. It is virtually new. The sword’s only imperfection is that there is some light pitting on the blades tip. The grip wrap and wire wrap are one hundred percent original and complete; the guard is as tight as when it was made, even the throat washer is original. The blade is stamped with the serial number 321 at the ricasso. The guard has a beautiful mellow, even patina.

The sword’s original scabbard is also virtually mint new. It has no imperfection in any way; none. The serial number 321 is stamped into the upper ring mount and scabbard mount, the lower ring mount and scabbard mount, and in the drag! The fine condition of the sword and its scabbard may mark this as the best of the pattern in existence. I cannot guarantee that, but I surely have never seen its equal.


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