Old South Military Antiques

Leech & Rigdon “Floating CS”
Item #: OS-7428









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, 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 Tennessee into Union hands, Leech and Rigdon decided to relocate their business to Columbus, Mississippi and 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 Selma for 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 a beautiful, near perfect, untouched example. The grip wrap has some minor surface flaking, but the leather is 100% complete, as is the double twist of brass wire wrap. The guard remains as tight as when it was made and it retains its original throat washer in good condition. Its unetched blade is flawless, without so much as a nick in the edge or point. It is sheathed in its original scabbard. The scabbard is too a thing of beauty. The leather is stiff enough to stand out on its own. The surface has aged lines in it, but the surface is not flaking in the least. The mounts remain as tight as when made also. The scabbard is unusual for a L&R in that is has screws on the top of the mounts, but it is definitely Confederate made, and it is definitely original to the sword. Because of it similarity to one of the known L&R patterns and that it has clearly always been on this sword I confidently believe that either the screws were experimental or a later (but period) addition. I The sword, the scabbard, its mounts, the shebang has a beautiful untouched "dirty” look to it. Its an attractive dirty look though, its not dirt, it is patina so thick you could scrape it with a knife.

The sword does not have that minty new look that is very much desired by many collectors. But it has that perfect "dirty aged” look so admired by a different set of collectors. For those that appreciate this particular "look” it doesn’t get any better. I personally find it extremely attractive and I am very tempted to keep it for myself, but now is not the time for me to do that.

Price $18,000.00 USD