|Description and Photograph||
This stunning Confederate Louisiana sword is a mystery. It is one of the very finest of the era; among the very top end for both quality and content of any sword made in the Confederacy. The sword bears both the letters CS and the Louisiana Pelican, meaning it was intended for a Confederate officer, from Louisiana, not a Louisiana officer. The pommel is surrounded by eleven, five pointed stars, cast in relief, each hand stippled, set in a punch-worked, stippled background. The pommel was cast as two pieces and then soldered together. The broad knuckle bow branches into four arms; the two center arms continue until ending in a scroll at the sword’s quillion. The central medallion of the upper face of the basket displays the mother pelican feeding her young from the blood of her own breast, the Louisiana State Seal. The seal is bracketed by the large, plain Roman characters CS cast in relief, each having a punch-worked, stippled background. The lower or inner guard has a relief casting of a sprig of laurel leaf set into the same type of background. The aristocracies of the old South were steeped in the history of the Roman Empire and the laurel leaf had significant meaning to them. Laurel was said to communicate the spirit of prophecy and poetry and its intoxicating properties are associated with prophetic and poetic inspiration. In Rome, laurel leaves surrounded the temple of Apollo to cleanse the soul before entering. It is associated with purification and was seen as a plant with powers of immortality. It has been a symbol of victory since laurel was given to the winner in Pythian Games. Masons consider the laurel symbol to signify the hopeful expectation of success in the search for the True Word. In the Bible, laurel is an emblem of prosperity and fame. In Christianity it is said to symbolize the resurrection of Christ and the triumph of humanity.
Though the sword looks at first to have been unused, there is significant wear to the upper mount, meaning that it was carried on the sword belt’s upper carrier hook a great deal. The original leather grip wrap and twisted brass wire are complete and tight; the guard and blade are as tight as when they were made.
The entire casting was chased by a jeweler and then gold plated. The blade was then engraved, not etched, therefore the blade’s decoration stands out better than any other known Confederate sword. The sword is sheathed in its original brass mounted leather scabbard. The mounts and drag are gilded just as the sword is and the scabbard’s leather is so strong it can stand horizontal alone and unaided.
Though so far I have been unable to identify this maker, I can tell a lot about the sword. For example, the pelican and split pommel tells me it was made in, or around, New Orleans, the CS and eleven stars tells me it was made after June 8, 1861 when Tennessee became the 11th state to secede, and May 1, 1862 when Beast Butler marched his 5000 hoodlums into the city. It is over the top quality and symbolism tells me that it was made for a very important person. The wear on the mount tells me it was a prominent military man, not a prominent politician. The unstopped fuller tells me that it was not made by Thomas, Griswold & Co., its grip and blade shape tell me it is not likely a Dufilho.
The sword is one of the most exquisite works of military art ever made by a Southerner during the War Between the States and it is in the same fine condition that it was when The War ended. This is the best of the best, of the best of the best!
I love researching the Confederacy and its material culture. I am at the end of my researches pertaining to this sword, without another lead. For that, I need your help. Please, if you have a sword that is significantly like this sword, i.e.… the same pommel a pelican in the guard, the exact same grip, the same engraving or similar etching etc.… I would love to hear from you. Or if you have a sword with a virtually identical scabbard, I would love to hear from you. Any information you provide will remain confidential unless you give express permission to share.