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Old South Military Antiques

“We will Conquor or die”
Item #: OS-7926

  Note the wooden lined body

William John McElroy was born in New York City in 1822. It is not known when he moved to the South, but by 1845 he was in Savannah, Georgia working as a tinner, and in 1850 he was a merchant in Macon, Georgia. Apparently, Georgia was very good to McElroy; the 1860 Macon census list him as a 37 year old merchant with $5,500 in real estate and $17,550 of personal estate.

When the War Between the States began, he put his talents to work making war material for his adopted home. Wm J. McElroy & Co was making war accoutrements as early as September, 1861. During the course of the War he made swords, knives, cutlasses, spurs, belts, bits, buckles, brass crossed cannon, cap letters, gun and sword parts. In short, he made anything and everything military that he could produce and sell. He is best known for his beautifully made and etched swords. Because of the quality of the swords he produced and because many of his products carry his name, they are among the most desirable Confederate antiques in the world. McElroy was a remarkable man in many respects; not only was he an astute, successful business man, he was also a philanthropist. After the War, he donated his property for use as an orphan’s home.

One of his Confederate foot officer’s swords is shown here; it is still sheathed in its original upgraded, etched, and wood lined scabbard. The sword’s blade is deeply relief etched with the maker’s name and address, crossed artillery and a very prominent Confederate First National flag with twelve stars. It also has the large script CS boldly relief etched onto the blade. Besides all of this, and the panoply of flags and drum, it has the rare motto "We will Conquor or die.” in script. McElroy’s floral and vine patterns were chased to give them detail. Because of McElroy’s deep style of relief etching, his is the most pronounced that can be found on any Confederate sword.

The leather grip wrap is perfect, as are the two strands of copper wire wrap. The two strands of twisted wire is also an upgrade, usually McElroy only used one strand. The original wire and wrap could not be more perfect in fact. The grip has some play within the guard, but guard is as tight as when it left the manufactory.

The sword’s correct and original leather scabbard is in exceptionally fine condition, but the upper ring mount has a small crack, and it remains completely tight. These are McElroy’s finest mounts, having floral etching, the drag has line engraving.

From the upgraded grip, to the etched and extremely rare wood lined scabbard, to the "We will Conquor or die” motto, this is one of the very finest of W.J. McElroy’s swords.