Original U.S. Civil War M-1840 Musicians Sword with Scabbard by Ames Mfg. Co. - Dated 1864

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice condition example of a U.S. Civil War issue Model 1840 Musician's sword, manufactured by Ames Manufacturing Co. of Chicopee, Massachusetts. They were by far the largest supplier of edged weapons to the Union forces during the war.

The sword measures 34 1/2" overall, and has an all-brass hilt, with a simple crossguard, which is an extension of "D" hand guard enclosing the knurled  hand grip. Comes complete in its straight steel scabbard with intact hanger rings. Many makers made these with Leather Scabbards, but Ames sometimes made them with steel.

There is the tendency of many to think that the musician's sword is purely a decoration but that was not the case. Bandsmen did accompany the troops upon the field of battle and if the lines were flanked, they were called upon to defend themselves and this sword was their only means to do so.

The 28 inch straight blade's ricasso is marked on one side with the Ames Mfg. Co. Scroll company marking, which is partly faded at the top:-

[Made by]

 One the other side it is marked :-


"A.H.K." is the inspector mark of Albert H. Kirkham, who worked at Ames from 1862-1864, mostly inspecting NCO and Musicians swords. His marking is on the handguard as well. The initials L.D.V. have been engraved into the crossguard and scabbard locket, most likely the initials of the owner.

The sword is in very good condition, with a lovely blade that has very little wear or oxidation whatsoever. The very tip has been grown down as often seen, but other wise there are no issues. The all brass handle has a lovely worn patina, with no damage or bending.

The scabbard has not held up quite as well over the years, and unfortunately suffered a break clear through the leather, which is not exactly uncommon. Often the leather shrinks over time, and efforts to sheathe the blade can tear clear through the leather body, now brittle. This has been covered with tape and copper wire to hold it together. Aside from the break, the scabbard is actually in quite good condition.

This is an absolutely genuine U.S. Civil War issue 1840 Army Musician's sword, offered in very good condition. Ready to display!

Blade Length: 28"
Blade Style: Single Edged Sword with Fuller
Overall length: 34 1/2“
Crossguard: 4 1/4”
Scabbard Length: 28 1/2"

History of the M-1840 Army NCO and Musicians' Swords:

The Model 1840 noncommissioned officers' sword was adopted in 1840. Based primarily on a sword used by the French Army, the model 1840 NCO proved somewhat heavy hilted and ill balanced. For over 70 years, it was widely used by the Army; today its usage is restricted to ceremonial occasions. The sword had a 31-inch blade (some being slightly longer), a cast brass hilt resembling the more expensive wire-wrapped leather grips, and a leather scabbard rather than the steel used by cavalry troopers and officers. Although some makers, such as Emerson and Silver issued a steel scabbard rather than leather to protect from wear. Leather scabbards were phased out beginning in 1868.

The sword was carried by sergeants during the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War; it was worn either on a white or black baldric or with an Enfield bayonet frog. A shorter version with a 26-inch blade was carried by musicians, this was called the Model 1840 musicians' sword. NCOs of the rank sergeant and above were to carry it. During the Mexican–American War, it was more likely to be carried. It wasn't always issued to volunteer regiments during the Civil War. The sword replaced the sword more commonly known as the Model 1832 foot artillery sword which was used by both the infantry and the artillery regiments from 1832 to 1840.

The primary contractor for the production of the M1840 NCO sword seems to have been the Ames Manufacturing Company. The weapon was made with a blunt edge as it was intended for stabbing rather than slashing (as in the case of a curved cavalry sabre). It was the main weapon of standard bearers (along with the Colt Army Model 1860 and Colt 1851 navy revolver) and hospital stewards, as well as a secondary weapon for infantry NCOs. The sword was also used by the Confederates who captured many after seizing state arsenals.

There was a variant of the M1840 without a handguard called the musicians' sword which was intended for use by musicians as a personal defense weapon.

The M1840 has had a long service life, seeing frontline service from the Mexican War until the Spanish–American War. In 1868 the ordnance board recommended that no more leather sword, or bayonet scabbards be purchased, so after the leather ones were used up, a black Japanned steel scabbard was substituted, along with a new pattern leather frog. It remained in service as a ceremonial weapon until general orders No. 77 dated August 6, 1875 discontinued its use. A modern version of this sword with steel scabbard is currently permitted for wear by US Army platoon sergeants and first sergeants; in practice it is rarely seen outside the 3rd Infantry Regiment (the "Old Guard") and honor guards. Some army NCOs have this sword and wear it for social occasions, regardless of duty as a platoon sergeant or first sergeant.

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