Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A New Orleans Made Confederate Foot Officer's Sword

Confederate made or used weapons are highly collectible.   More so than any other Confederate item, officer's swords are the most desireable item.  Perhaps it the mystic of the "lost cause."    After all, German WWII militaria prices are  much higher than those of any other nation.   French Napoleonic items are  typically valued greater than comparable Britsh items.  So what is it about the loser's stuff that is so desired by collectors?   My opinion is that it is a matter of supply and demand.   There were comparatively fewer Confederate manufactured swords than Union manufactured swords. Even fewer Confederste swords have survived over the past 150 years.   Also,  in most instances, we can say that a sword produced by a known CS maker was manufactured between 1860-1865.   That cannot be said for every "Civil War" Sword. US sword patterns for the most part were in service existed prewar and continued as official patterns for several years postwar. For whatever reason, CS officer's swords simply fetch higher prices on the market.  Often, they are of poorer quality in both materials and manufacture, but I must admit that they are truly appealing.

Over the years I have owned four Confederate swords.  I have had the pleasure of owning two cavalry sabres and two foot officer's swords (remember these are the officers that did not serve mounted, captains and below, hence the designation as "foot officer").  The sword pictured below is one of the foot officer's swords that I have owned.  This particular sword is completely devoid of markings, but it can still identified as a product of a New Orleans manufacturer.

Prior to its fall in 1862, New Irleans was the home of several well known Sword cutlers.  The most famous of these being  Thomas Griswold & Co., which produced very high quality officers swords as well as other blades.  Also manufacturing in New Orleans were Agudier Dufihlo and Blaise Pradel.  Both Dufihlo's and Pradel's names appear on one of my favorite CS swords- a staff and field officer's (those what got to ride on horses) sword incorporating the Lousiana state seal in the guard which depicts a pelican feeding her young.  The sword shown below is believed to be a Pradel product based upon its likeness to a Pradel marked foot officer's sword.  The sword itself is a copy of the US pattern 1850 foot sword.  It exhibits typical New Orleans manufacturing characteristics of an unstopped fuller (channel) in the blade, a two piece pommel cap (the base of yhe sword which holds the whole lot together) that is braised together and a bulbous quillion (the curled thingy coming off of the guard).  The sword has a metal, black painted scabbard regarding which there is some debate as to whether or not it is original to the sword.  Nevertheless, the scabbard is a period piece and not a reproduction.

This sword is no longer in my collection and I truly enjoyed having the opportunity to study it.   My family hails from Louisiana.  I have ancestors that served in the Cobfederate Army , particularly the 1st Louisiana Cavalry and the 3rd Louisiana Infantry.  One of my ancestors was Vicksburg.   Given my family's history, I felt a connection.