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Old South Military Antiques

Douglas South Carolina Enlisted Cavalry Sword
Item #: OS-7288

W. B. Douglas started a partnership with his brother Hugh, Andrew J. McWhirter, Samuel C. Godshall, and Jasper N. Bailey, which was announced in an ad in The Tennessean, dated January 4, 1849. The partnership was to be called H & B Douglas, doing business as "Importers and Wholesaler Dealers of foreign and Domestic Dry Goods”.

Prior to the War, the partnership ended and he started again as Douglas & Co. selling "Ready Made Clothing” and assorted millinery.

With the beginning of the War, his business takes a new turn. Douglas & Co. shows up as a contractor to the Confederate Government. His first surviving invoice to the Confederate Government is dated July 26, 1861, for "two pieces heavy duck”. He then goes on to sell tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of buttons, thread, cloth by the bale, jeans, gray coating, brown jeans, drabs, Columbus and Augusta osnaburgs by the bale. He even sells them 35,554 feet of pine flooring.

On August 23, 1862 he advertises in the Charleson (SC) Daily Courier, looking for "three skilled blacksmiths, who understand sword making, None but expert hands need apply” to "B. Douglas & Co’s Sword Factory, Columbia, S.C”. We next hear of him in the Columbia, South Carolina, newspaper, The Southern Guardian, dated September 10, 1862, where he advertised "Swords, spurs, bits, etc." made at the B. Douglas Factory located at the Old Foundry on Washington Street. This makes it clear that Douglas was not only an outfitter, but a maker as well. The ad mentions only cavalry accoutrements, and equipping South Carolina Volunteer Cavalry units seems to have been his primary business, however the field & staff swords with his name on them leave no doubt that he made some officers models.

On August 29, 1863, an ad ran in The Free South, in Beaufort, South Carolina, advertising that Douglas & Co. "had removed to their new store on Bay Street, one door east of the post commissary building Beaufort” and that they had a large stock of "Swords, Sashes, Belts, Passants &c.&.c and a full stock of Dress and Undress Military Clothing”.

Among the receipts for bits, belts, buttons, bayonets, etc., sold to the Confederate Government, are receipts for hundreds of swords, both artillery and cavalry, without scabbards. This no doubt accounts for the Kraft, Goldschmidt, Kraft style wooden scabbards found on many of their cavalry swords.

After the War he started business again, sans swords, and seemed to have made a moderate living as a dry good’s dealer. He died December 13, 1882.

Known Douglas swords in any pattern are a rarity today. The example shown here is his enlisted cavalry sword. It is easily identifiable by its unique Douglas pommel and the unique "ball end” drag found on his scabbards.

This example is in excellent condition; its grip wrap is the only possible failing from perfection. The sword has never been apart, and the throat washer is definitely original. And though the painted canvas wrap looks genuinely old, I do not like the diameter of the wire wrap. It is atypical, a Douglas sword usually has a very fine wire wrap. The heavy wire on this is made up of fine strands, but I am unwilling to state categorically that the wire and wrap are positively original and the sword is priced accordingly. The grip and guard are completely tight.

The blade is absolutely beautiful, still semi bright with only sporadic dark stains, no rust, no nicks, just a beautiful blade. The scabbard is also a thing of perfection, having only two slight pushes in the surface, and retaining very nearly 100% of its original red/brown paint.

Note how similar the guard is to the Kenansville 1st Model Enlisted Cavalry Sword. It almost appears stamped rather than cast, but again it has its distinctive B. Douglas pommel.