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Old South Military Antiques

1 of 4, Etched Louis Froelich Field & Staff Officer’s Sword
Item #: OS-7453

The field and staff officer’s sword shown here was made at the Confederate States Armory in Kenansville, North Carolina by Louis Froelich. The name implies that the manufactory was a Confederate government operation, but it was privately owned and operated. Records show that Froelich made pikes, buttons, saber bayonets, navy and artillery cutlasses, belts, knapsacks, cap boxes, cartridge boxes and swords for North Carolina, the Confederate government and for private sale. The Confederate States Armory is believed to have been the second largest sword manufactory in the Confederacy. Froelich’s cavalry swords, bayonets and cutlasses are all referred to as Kenansville products, taking their name from the place of manufacture rather than the maker’s name. Only his unique field & staff sword bears his name and it is this sword that he is most remembered for.

The large CSA in the counterguard delineates this sword as a field & staff pattern, and as the name field & staff implies, only officers with the rank of major and above were authorized to carry this sword. However, such distinctions could ill be afforded in the Confederate army and this sword could have been carried by officers of some lesser rank.

The Froelich field & staff officer’s sword shown here with an etched blade is one of only four known of this pattern according to authors John McAden and Chris Fonvielle, Jr. in Louis Froelich Arms Maker to the Confederacy. The blade is etched with a vine scroll on one side and crossed artillery surmounted by a First National flag with a sunburst canton, reminding one of the North Carolina sunburst buttons. With the exception of the flag with sunburst, the etching looks identical to Boyle & Gamble etching, and I personally very strongly believe that it was etched by the same etcher that Boyle and Gamble used. This may account for the extreme rarity of etched Froelich models. The blade is very nice; it has some smattering of carbon staining but on the whole it remains bright from ricasso to point.

The leather grip wrap is completely gone and there are two cracks in the wooden grip, but the grip remains solid and tight, with only the slightest, play in the guard; just enough to make it "click” not enough to. The brass wire wrap is a correct replacement. The guard has a very deep, rich patina which is matched perfectly with the brass fittings on its original scabbard. The guard is benchmarked IIII and the scabbard throat is XXXIX. These ideally would match, but even though they do not, there is no doubt that the scabbard has always been with this sword since the War. I wish that I could examine the other three etched models as I expect one of the scabbards would be marked IIII and one of the swords XXXIX. In other words, I think it likely the etcher mixed up the scabbards.

This sword came from the collection of John McAden, Jr., one of the two authors of Louis Froelich Arms Maker to the Confederacy, and is photographed in the book on page 51.

The sword and the scabbard are completely original in all regards, with the exception of the brass wire grip wrap.