Original U.S. Civil War M-1840 Light Artillery Officer's Saber with Scabbard - Dated 1861
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of a Civil War Model 1841 Light Artillery Officer's Saber, straight out of the family home where it was displayed for almost 150 years. The markings on the bottom of the blade have all but worn away due to the continual polishing of the 32" curved blade. The sword measures 37 1/2" overall, and has a brass "D" guard enclosing brass wire bound leather hand grip. Comes complete with curved all steel scabbard with two hanging rings.
The 32 inch curved blade's ricasso is worn on the side where the maker's name would be, so unfortunately the marking has been almost completely worn away. However, on close inspection, we can make out "ANSF", which would make this a sword by Mansfield & Lamb of Forestdale, RI.
One the other side it is marked very faintly-
J.H. is a known inspector who worked at Mansfield & Lamb during the Civil War, inspecting swords there in 1861 and 1862 only. His full name was John or Joseph Hannis. His initials are also marked on the pommel of the grip
This sword blade does show use, with some nicks and edge wear, but nothing major. The blade shows overall light oxidation and speckling due to use and age, as shown. The leather buffer on the guard is present, and the leather grip wrapping is in very good condition, with complete brass wire wrapping. The hilt is in great shape, with a lovely aged brass patina.
The scabbard unfortunately does have some significant denting, almost as if it was closed hard in a door. This does not impede sheathing the sword however. The scabbard was at one point nickel plated, however almost all of the plating has flaked off.
This is an absolutely genuine U.S. Civil War issue 1840 artillery saber offered in very nice condition. Ready to display!
History of the M-1840 Artillery Saber:
Before and during the Civil War there were two categories of artillery: The first was termed variously coast, siege, or garrison artillery and consisted of heavy large-caliber cannon on their equally unwieldy carriages that essentially remained where they had been installed in permanent positions like the brick forts prevalent for seacoast defense. The other was the field artillery that accompanied an army on the march, that from the Revolution had also consisted of relatively heavy and slow-moving pieces drawn by oxen or draft horses. Developments in metallurgy in the first half of the nineteenth century produced a new range of smaller and lighter bronze guns and howitzers that were much more mobile on the battlefield, and it was with these that the then-new flying or horse artillery completely dominated their old-fashioned enemies in battles like Buena Vista in the Mexican War of the 1840's.
The so-called foot artillery manning the garrison guns were uniformed and equipped like their brothers in the infantry, including a useless heavy sidearm called a foot artillery short sword, which for a time in the 1830's was also regulation for infantrymen. The new horse, field, or mounted artillery were uniformed and armed like their counterparts in the cavalry or dragoons, which included these handsome, sturdy curved sabers patterned from a French design of the 1820's.
When the U. S. decided to arm the new batteries of light or horse artillery, they again contracted with the N. P. Ames company from whom they had previously obtained foot artillery short swords and M.1833 Dragoon sabers; once again, a French pattern was chosen to copy for the U. S. M. 1840 light artillery saber. During the Mexican War, the U. S. artillery officers' sabers were regulation for ALL mounted officers other than those of the cavalry; today they are one of the rarest and most valuable of U. S. regulation swords, so I "make do" with my French original.
Like with other swords and sabers, the blades were inspected first, and only after they had "passed" and been stamped with the initials of the inspecting official, then sent on to be hilted. On final acceptance, they then received the US and year of manufacture stampings, which on this example were each clearly applied separately unlike modern-day replicas and fakes.
In the later Civil War-era examples from Ames and their competitors who also made them, the throats have been re-designed like those of the cavalry or dragoon sabers with a leather pad or washer acting as a sealer for the throat of the scabbard. These handsome sabers were also copied during the Civil War by several Confederate sword cutlers like Leech and Rigdon of Memphis, Tenn. and Boyle and Gamble in Richmond, Va. One would think there was probably little use of these in actual combat ( and one would be right! ); however there is a recorded case of a mounted charge by artillerymen armed with these acting as cavalry against Apaches in the Southwest ca. 1852 led by Lt. Ambrose Burnside of the 2d Artillery, who was wounded in the fray!
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