Old South Military Antiques

Burger, Boyle, Gamble and MacFee
Item #: OS-6497

The cavalry sword shown here is among the earliest produced in the fledgling Confederacy. To record its history properly would require a tome of its own. The short version follows. The sword has the flat blade that has been positively identified to Richmond, Virginia sword maker Boyle & Gamble by maker marked examples. The same can be said of the down turned or "cupped” counter guard. However recent discoveries prove that Burger & Brother, also of Richmond, produced the "cupped” guard before Boyle & Gamble did. Evidence also shows that Burger & Brother were producing swords prior to Boyle & Gamble’s entering the market. The same evidence, demonstrates that Burger & Brother was working totally by the seat of their pants; they had no experience making swords. They were saw makers like Boyle & Gamble prior to the War.

Examples of the Burger’s earliest swords, made in the spring of 1861, produced many of the designs later incorporated by Boyle & Gamble. These examples also show that they did not know how to make scabbards. Some were so flimsy that they could not last a month of hard use, others, like that shown here, were absurdly heavy.

As time progressed, we can see the joining of the forces of Burger and Boyle & Gamble; then we have to throw MacFee into the mix. All four names are inexorably tied to what are basically the same swords.

So, who made this enlisted cavalry sword? Though there are no maker marked patterns of this sword found in this early, heavy mounted scabbard, I am virtually certain that Burger & Brothers produced it in the spring of 1861, prior to their involvement with Boyle & Gamble.

The heavy mounts used on this scabbard are occasionally found in early War Virginia sites by relic hunters, and over the years I have seen at least three of this sword and scabbard combination. In the past they have always been referred to as Boyle & Gamble products, but with the new discoveries of similar marked and dated Burger & Brother swords, I do not think that they should be referred to as Boyle & Gamble products in the future. However, those of this pattern that are found in the later Boyle & Gamble scabbards, should still be considered Boyle & Gamble, or Boyle, Gamble & MacFee products.

As I mentioned earlier, I have seen only three of these in their early Burger & Brother scabbards, and this one is the only one with a totally complete scabbard (upper iron ring is a replacement in my opinion).

The sword’s grip wrap is virtually perfect; it is made of painted canvas and wrapped with a single strand of iron wire. The grip and guard remain as tight as when it was manufactured. The flat blade has numerous flaws and defects from the iron having too high a carbon content when produced, but remains semi bright and in excellent condition. The scabbard, with the exception of the aforementioned ring is completely original and in beautiful condition.

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