Original U.S. Civil War Model 1860 Light Cavalry Saber with Scabbard - Combat Worn
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a great battle-worn example of the principal cavalry saber used in the U.S. Civil War of 1860-1865. It has all brass mounts with wood with leather wrapped sword grip, though the brass wrap is missing. Considered a lighter, more maneuverable weapon than its predecessor the M-1840 Wristbreaker, the light cavalry saber weighed about 3 ½ pounds in the scabbard.
The markings on the blade have unfortunately all been worn off through use, cleaning, and sharpening. Brass hilt wears a pleasing finish overall and is tight to the handle. The grooved, center-swell grip features bridle leather wrap in fair original condition with definite wear and hardening of the leather. Brass wire wrap is unfortunately missing. Steel scabbard is in damaged condition, with dents, some cracks, and straightened bends. It does have a stamped number 12 on the drag, probably a rack number.
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 35in 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, 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.
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