Old South Military Antiques

Pair of Leech & Rigdon Spurs
Item #: OS-7361



The non-excavated pair of spurs shown here was made by the firm Thomas Leech & Company, known as the Memphis Novelty Works. Thomas S. Leech 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 and his partners 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 Leech manufactured Swords, Spurs, 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. delivered to the Confederate Army Depot 2,017 swords and scabbards, belts, buckles and side arms. On July 26, 1862 Leech & Rigdon delivered 750 sets of gun mountings at $3.00 per set and 7 swords at $25.00 each; on August 4th another 30 swords were delivered as well as 400 pairs of spurs at $1.75 each.

No crate or barrel filled with Leech & Rigdon spurs has been discovered, but it can be said with some assurance that spurs would have been packed in a crate or barrel without any effort to create matched pairs; the straps would have been shipped in the same container with the spurs, but would not have been attached. This may account for this pair having slightly different rowels, even though their appearance and history indicates that they are "as issued”.

They come from the Lewis Leigh, Jr. Collection; when Mr. Leigh acquired them he believed them to be an "as issued” pair. The white labels affixed to the inside of the heel plates contain Mr. Leigh’s collection inventory numbers and the information that they are "a pair”.

The spurs are in perfect condition and retain their original, unaltered patina.

On Hold