US Army Swords 1832 to 1865

Presentation: US Army Swords 1832--1865
“The Golden Age of US Army Swords”
Based upon my 2 volumes on American Swords
Civil War Cavalry and Artillery Sabers, 1833 through 1865
Civil War Army Swords 1832 through 1865
The Company of Military Historians
The Regulation of 1825
Not a particularly specific regulation thus leading to a confusion of sword types
• “The swords of officers of the general staff,
engineers, artillery and rifle, will be yellow
mounted, with a black or yellow gripe, and
straight blades. Those of the officers of the
Infantry will be of similar form and will differ
only in the color of the mountings which shall
be white. Medical officers will wear yellow
mounted small swords.” Note no Cavalry yet
The Army knew that it needed to
update the regulations covering dress
and weapons
• The Dress regulation of 1832 specified a new
model of sword to be carried immediately—with
general descriptions but none actually existed
• Gen John Woll was in London and sent examples
of British swords to Gen Macomb in the Ord Dep
in Nov 1832
• Ames was given the English swords in early 1833
• The swords were then made up, developed as
models, adopted and produced in 1834
Four Major Models of Swords from
1832 through 1860
The Model of 1834
Began with the 1832 Foot Artillery Sword, The model 1833
Dragoon and then the Models of 1834
The Model of 1840
Wholesale redo of the earlier sword patterns except for the 1832
Foot Artillery Sword
The Model of 1850
This new Model superseded both foot, mounted Infantry officers
and the artillery officers sword No enlisted swords
The Model of 1860
Only a new light Cavalry Saber and a new Staff Sword
The Model 1832 Foot Artillery Sword
• In 1828 Lt. Tyler was in France to study artillery. He sent
examples of French accoutrements among them the sword
• This sword was carried by the Foot Artillery from 1832
through the 1880’s. It was made from 1832 to 1862
• It was also used by NCO’s and Musicians till the model of 1840
• Shown here with its first belt and scabbard, note the buckle
The M 1833 Enlisted Dragoon Saber made
from 1834-39, Texas in 1840
Many went to state regiments, NC, SC, MS, Ga, Pa, Ky, among
others –Officers have gilt hilts, sharkskin grip, etched blade
Model 1834 Infantry, Artillery, Staff and
General Officers Hilt and Blade Style
This officers sword was made from 1834 to 1840 with
leather scabbard for officers of the Infantry and
artillery. Staff and General Officers carried it with a
metal scabbard
M 1834 General Officers Sword: it is
distinguished only in the use of a metal
scabbard and the top suspension ring mount
Model 1834 Medical Staff Sword
This small sword style was also carried by Engineer and
Pay Department Officers
M 1839 Topo Engineers Saber
This is a very rarely seen sword
The Model of 1840 resulted from trials
in 1839 and the need for a special
Saber for the new Light Artillery
The models of 1840 swords:
• A newer pattern and sturdier infantry officers sword
• Light Artillery Sabers
• Better--heavier Dragoon/Cavalry sabers
• Separate NCO sword
• Separate Musicians sword
*Note the new maneuvering—firing from multiple
positions light artillery concept was a key to success in
the War with Mexico*
Model 1840 Officers Sword
First contract with Schnitzler and Kirshbaum in Prussia in 1840 as part of a large sword
contract for Dragoons, Artillery, NCO’s and Musicians swords
Model 1840 General Officers had a
fancier hilt and metal scabbard
Model 1840 Officers except for the
Artillery and Cavalry had a
Plain hilt and leather scabbard
Model 1840 Artillery Saber
For Light Artillerymen and Officers
Regulation for all Artillery men through 1870 and for Artillery Officers to 1850
*All Mounted Officers from 1840 through 1850*
*Officers Saber, fancy gilt hilt & etched blade
Light Artilleryman as posed but did
they really look like this in the Field
Model 1840 Cavalry Saber
First Contract with S&K Solingen in 1840, S&K Trial saber 1839
Ames first contract in 1844, delivery 1845 made through 1858
State contracts “MS” Massachusetts in 1851, 1st Mass Cav
Heavily used in the CW—mostly Prussian “Solingen” imports
Model 1840 Medical Staff and Pay
Department Swords used till 1880’s
• Medical Staff
• Pay Department
The Model 1840 Engineers Small
Sword—note the rattle snake grip
Note the castle and star
Blade etching
Model 1840 NCO and Musicians
The new M1840 NCO and Musicians sword replaced
the 1832 Artillery Sword
The New Model of 1850 affected only
Officers swords. It was based on the
French model of 1845
• The Officer Corps disliked the Model of 1840
sword “it was typically laid aside in the service”
• The Officers wanted “a more durable and
serviceable sword” than the cut and thrust model
• Only Medical and Pay Officers, General Officers
and Cavalry Officers retained a separate model
• All other Officers carried the new model of
1850— (1851 Ord. Reg.) including “mounted
artillery officers”
Model of 1850 Foot Officer
New and Improved over the M 1840 – more functional, better
blade for field use. Mandated also for
Artillery Officers even those mounted
Model of 1850 Staff & Field
Carried by Staff officers and Field officers, those
in the grade of Major and above
Replaced the model of 1840 Artillery Officers Saber for all
Mounted Officers, except Generals--note the US in the guard
Non Regulation British and French Officers
swords carried by company grade, staff and
field officers
British 1822/’45 Infantry and 1827 Rifles
Patterns & French infantry and Marine Models
The Models of 1860
• A new lighter cavalry saber (but already in use) as
the model of 1840 was large and heavy – hard on
the wrist and troopers tended to be slightly
smaller men
• A new smaller staff sword—the model of 1850
Staff and Field sword was heavy and cumbersome
for staff officers who spent most of their time at
the writing desk
• It was also regulation “optional” for General
officers to carry in the field and many did carry it.
Trooper with his 1860 saber and pistol
many early war volunteer state troopers were armed
with only sabers and then with sabers and revolvers
Model of 1860 Cavalry saber
Note on the Example below the screw at the scabbard throat
which is a likely a field repair
Contract by Ames in 1856 first delivery in 1857
The M 1860 Cavalry Officers saber
Above Ames / below Sauerbier
Non Regulation Cavalry Sabers
Both Enlisted and Officers carried them during the CW. British
P1822 and the French Models of Non Regulation Cavalry sabers
below. Almost all imported.
The Model of 1860 Staff Sword was
authorized for use by only Staff Officers
and General Officers
Militia Staff Swords 1830’s through
Early Militia Staff Swords
• Eagle, Indian Princess or
Birds Head pommels
• Lighter
• Narrow straight Blades
• Small hilts, simple knuckle
• Engraved metal scabbards
• Typically with a round finial
or simple strap for a
scabbard drag
Later Militia Staff Swords
• Knights Helmet, Standing
• Heavy cruciform style hilts
with ivory, silver, mother of
pearl and chains from
pommel to guard
• Wider double edged oval
straight blades
• Engraved and ornamented
• Fancy drags
The Militia Staff Sword 1830’s - 1860’s
High Grade Swords
• Generally made for
• Often made with gold,
silver and jewels
• Sometimes jewels and
precious metal added to
equal the money being
allocated, in poor taste
• Often custom made
• Usually cased with
• Early high grade swords
almost always use a
cruciform hilt style
• Later styles usually
include an element of
custom manufacture but
will contain similar
stylistic elements (Tiffany,
Ames, Ball and Black,
High Grade Presentation Swords
This Power Point was a very quick
review of US Army Golden Age Swords
I’m happy to answer your questions but keep in mind that
this quick fire hose review is a summary from:
Civil War Cavalry and Artillery Sabers
530 pages and 1,600 images, pub 2001
Completely end-noted with all sources identified
Civil War Army Swords
640 pages and 2,400 photos, pub 2008
Completely end-noted with all sources identified

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