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Old South Military Antiques

Jeff Davis Artillery Sword
Item #: OS-7001

  Note the very clear JDA

The "Jeff Davis Artillery”, was organized in Selma, Alabama, with eight cannon in May of 1861, under Captain Joseph Montgomery. Captain Montgomery must have been extraordinarily efficient. They were equipped, trained and rushed to Manassas, Virginia on rail cars the following month. Not much time, but enough to allow a local Selma manufacturer to produce and equip the artillerymen with custom made Foot Artillery Swords. The sword produced in Selma was rather crude, but it served the purpose, and it had a remarkable brass hilt, unlike any other produced in the north or south; it had the units initials cast into the pommel of the hilt.

The following April the battery was transferred from General Early to Daniel Harvey Hill’s Divisional Artillery. They plied their guns at Seven Pines, Mechanicsville, and Gaines Mill. Then again at Boonsboro, and Sharpsburg, and suffered severely for it, before returning to Virginia, where their guns plowed the fields of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, while attached to Carter’s Artillery Battalion of Rodes’ Division of the Second Corps.

On the bloody field at Gettysburg stands a marker that speaks of the battery’s deeds, it reads: "July 1. Was placed in position near here in support of Dole’s Brigade against two divisions of the Eleventh Corps which were massing on his front and left flank. It rendered effective service not only in protecting Dole’s flank but also aided in dislodging the Union infantry and artillery from their position in the fields north of the town. July 2. Remained in Reserve. July 3. In position on Seminary Ridge near the railroad cut and took part in the cannonade preceding Longstreet’s assault. July 4. After nightfall began the march to Hagerstown. Ammunition expended 229 rounds.”

Back in Virginia the battery continued to pound at Bristoe Station and again at Bealton a week later; another month and their cannon roared at Mine Run. In 1864 they fought at the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania, where the battery was overrun and lost three of its guns and half the command captured. The remnants fought the Battle of Cedar Creek. The Battery returned to Lee’s Army in time to fire their last guns at Appomattox.

The custom made foot artillery sword produced in Selma measures twenty four inches long and one and three quarter inches broad. The brass grip and S shaped cross guard were cast separately. The blade has been worked with a file, and I believe it has been filed since the War, but so long ago that it has aged back naturally to the point that it is difficult to tell that it has been worked post war at all. Yet, in my opinion, it has. The separately cast cross guard has loose play, but only because the leather throat washer that held it tight has deteriorated. The brass grip is magnificent! It is as tight as when made, and it has the clearest "JDA” casting that I have ever encountered.

Not for Sale