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Old South Military Antiques

Leech & Rigdon “Floating CS” Sword
Item #: OS-7764

The maker of this sword is Leech & Rigdon. Thomas S. Leech, had 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 formed a new partnership with S.B. Carver and J. F. Frank, 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 the company manufactured Swords, 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. Memphis Novelty Works, delivered to the Confederate Army Depot 2,017 swords and scabbards. These would have been primarily enlisted cavalry swords, officers had to purchase their own swords.

The "Floating CS”, so named because of the "CS” hanging mostly open in the air, was a private purchase. The CS in the guard denotes it as a Staff & Field Officer’s Sword, meaning it was more than a weapon; it was a symbol of rank. Only officers above the rank of Major were authorized to carry a Staff & Field Officer’s Sword. However, in the Confederacy, officers of lower rank did occasionally carry the same pattern.

The sword is in good condition, allowing for the grip having been rewrapped. The blade is in very good condition, being mostly bright, with little carbon staining and little pitting throughout most. The last 4 inches at the tip have significant carbon staining and extra pitting, with the last inch appearing to have sat in water in the drag at some point causing a distinct dark line to form. The sword’s guard has the tiniest bit of play. The guard has a very nice dark reddish patina and a desirable casting flaw.

The sword’s original scabbard is in good condition. Because of leather shrinkage, the top scabbard mount has been moved up. When this was done it revealed some damage under the mount’s previous location. This damage has been repaired.

This pattern of Officer’s sword is very rare and one of the most recognizable and desirable in all of Confederate collecting.