Original Set of Two U.S. Civil War M1860 Light Cavalry Sabers in Relic Condition
Original Item: One Only. Just received out of an old collection, along with about a hundred other antique swords, many in similar condition. This is a set of two genuine Union cavalry trooper's curved M-1860 sabers. One was made by maker Mansfield & Lamb, while the second was made by Ames Manufacturing Co. These are of the type issued to Federal horsemen during the American Civil War. Both come with their original scabbards.
Manufactured by partners Henry Mansfield and Estus Lamb in the village of Forestdale, Rhode Island, the first sable is of 37,500 edged weapons produced for the U.S. Ordnance Department by the firm during the war. There is just a bit of the oval Mansfield & Lamb logo left, but it is enough to definitively identify this maker.
The sword is in well used condition, with a dark blade and a scabbard that shows a lot of surface rust. The handle guard is somewhat bent, and the handle itself has lots its leather covering as well as almost all of the wire wrapping. At some point, someone painted the wood grip base with black enamel, but that is definitely not the correct finish.
The second sword is definitely in worse condition, though the ricasso is still marked on one side with the Ames standard address, which is partly faded, missing the top line -
AMES MFG Co
One the other side it is marked-
This indicates inspection by Union Sword inspector Andrew D. King. The date on the ricasso is unfortunately completely worn away.
Condition of this sword is almost "battlefield dug up" in some ways. The grip is completely missing, with the guard and pommel fitting still on the bare blade tang. The guard is also somewhat bent overall. The blade has a lot of oxidation, now showing a peppered patina. The scabbard is definitely "dug up" looking, with a lot of rust and some holes, as well as some dents and other issues as shown.
If you were looking for a nice set of Civil War cavalry sabers to hang on the wall or over the door, these are it! Ready to display!
The Model 1860 Light Cavalry Saber (also known as the M1862, as this was when the first 800 were issued) was used by US cavalry from the American Civil War until the end of the Indian wars; some were still in use during the Spanish-American War. It was 41in long with a 35 in by 1in blade and weighed 2 lb 4oz alone or 3 lb 10oz with iron scabbard.
During the Civil War there was no light or heavy cavalry in the US army. Instead there were "Dragoons" (founded 1830) "Mounted Riflemen", (founded c.1840) and "Cavalry" (founded 1856), distinguished by the orange, green or yellow piping on their uniforms. In 1861 these mounted regiments were renamed cavalry and given yellow piping.
The M1860 saber received its name to distinguish it from the larger and heavier Model 1840 Heavy Cavalry Saber that it replaced. Like its predecessor it had a brass guard, leather-wrapped grip and steel scabbard but unlike the M1840 it was smaller and easier to handle.
By the end of the Civil War over 300,000 1860 sabers had been produced: 200,000 by Ames, 32,000 by Roby and many more by firms such as Tiffany and Co, Glaze, Justice, Mansfield & Lamb, and Emerson and Silver. M1860s were carried not only by cavalry but also by many infantry and staff officers as the regulation Model 1850 Army Staff & Field Officers' Sword had to be privately purchased. High-ranking officers, like their European counterparts, often had their swords ornately engraved with gilding and foliage. Famous users included George Armstrong Custer and J.E.B. Stuart.
Later in the Civil War large cavalry charges became less common and the cavalry took on the role of skirmishers. Many replaced their sabers with extra revolvers, or left it in the saddle while fighting on foot with their repeating Henry rifles and Spencer carbines.
This is the sword the cavalry use in Westerns, many being original antiques purchased by the movie industry in the 1920s when surplus Civil War equipment was cheap.
This model is currently used in some U.S. Army Cavalry units in Color Guards, or when in period type uniforms. Most are given as PCS (Permanent Change of Station) or ETS (Expiration of Term of Service) gifts to a departing Cavalry Trooper. Usually engraved on the scabbard with his name, rank and dates of service. Some are also worn, in full Dress Blues, (when earned on a "Spur Ride" or combat tour) with Stetson and Spurs.
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