Confederate Foot Artillery Sword

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     Confederate foot artillery swords were originally intended to kill or maim charging cavalry horses. The sword’s design harkens back to an earlier time, taking its shape from the Roman short sword.  In Napoleon’s day, fast charging cavalry could approach smoothbore cannon so quickly that the battery had few chances to fire and no chance to hook up the teams and escape.  By the time of the War Between the States long range rifled artillery had rendered the quick cavalry charge upon artillery very difficult and the foot artillery sword impractical.  Still, thousands were made and issued.  They were more likely used to slay overly aggressive swine that could not get away and to clear fields of fire.

     Surviving Confederate foot artillery swords are usually missing their original scabbard, but collectors can still find quality specimens that do have them if they are patient.  Occasionally one is found in its original scabbard that still retains its original frog, however, this is very, very rare.  Remarkably, the Confederate foot artillery sword shown here still has its original scabbard, frog and over the shoulder belt!  I have never owned, nor even seen an original, complete Confederate foot artillery sword rig.  This rig was just recently brought to light when it was found in an old trunk in north Georgia.

     The sword’s bright blade has no nicks or chips; it has not been cleaned or altered. The hollow cast brass grip is tight and in perfect condition.  The sword’s leather scabbard has a brass toe that was crudely soldered together. The brass tip was inserted into the brass sheathing separately and soldered. A small amount of solder was placed on the bottom end of the brass toe to create a finial.  The scabbard’s leather body has a small amount of surface cracking but is extraordinarily solid. The over the shoulder belt has tooled borders and was cut for a decorative breast plate at the factory when it was made. It appears that the breast plate was never affixed to the belt.  The stitching that binds the frog to the belt remains tight and strong, so strong that I could not resist putting it on and tramping around with the sword just to see what it had been like for the Confederate artilleryman who carried it through the War.  I was surprised to find that the weight of the sword was so well balanced and dispersed by the belt that it was comfortable.

     This complete Confederate foot artillery rig may be the only one to exist, if not, it is an extremely rare item and the condition simply could not be surpassed.   

 

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