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Two Ames Artillery Swords
The Foot and the Horse!

 


The First of the Ames - The Model 1832 (dated 1832) Foot Artillery Sword & The 1840 Model (dated 1847) Horse or Light Artillery Saber

 


Part One of Two
The Model 1832 Foot Artillery Sword

 

     On June 5, 1832 Nathan P. Ames, Jr., then 29, signed a contract with the U.S. Ordnance Department to produce 2,000 Model 1832 Foot Artillery swords with scabbards. This was the first of a long line of edged weapons contracts that would give birth, in 1834, to the Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee Falls, Mass. established by Nathan Peabody Ames, Jr., 31, and his younger brother, James Tyler Ames, 24. The company would become the leading manufacturer of edged weapons engaged by the U.S. government in the nineteen century. Not only would they produce swords and sabers but cutlasses, knives and bayonets, as well as firearms and cannon.  A cannon foundry would be established, two years later, on the Chicopee River a mile or so below the falls which in itself begot the town of Cabotsville. Cabotsville and Chicopee Falls later merged into the single community of Chicopee, Mass located near the federal armory at Springfield.  His initial blacksmithery was apparently close enough for Ames to stamp "SPRINGFIELD" on the blades of his first  foot artillery swords. Later swords would be stamped or etched with the addresses of "CABOTSVILLE" or "CHICOPEE".

 


 

THE AMES MODEL 1832 FOOT ARTILLERY SWORD

THE FIRST OF THE FIRST - THE AMES MODEL 1832 FOOT ARTILLERY SWORD DATED 1832

 

     This sword was based on a the French Artillery Model of 1816. It resembles in shape and size the modern conception of the Roman infantry sword. One of the design and assignment considerations was it's use against cavalry. Since cavalry loved to take artillery positions - like the Charge of the Light Brigade, it was thought that the heavy or foot artillery man using this weapon could rip open the horses belly's or break their legs as they leapt over the revetments protecting the cannon emplacements. And then they could dispatch the fallen riders with it! Sure. U.S. Ordnance Department manuals for 1834 and 1839 also advocated the use of this weapon by infantry! In truth and usage, this sword suffered from the "toos". It was too heavy, it was too short, it was too unwieldy and it was, tactically, too unsound. Since the cavalry men were carrying six shooters and a much longer sword, any artillery man holding his ground or attempting to attack the horse or it's rider was at a distinct disadvantage. He might as well fall on his own sword. The earlier Ames swords would also suffer from loose blades after hitting them on a wooden block a few times. Ames changed the inner castings to solve this problem in 1834 and they were given a contract for 2,400 more. Ames, due to limited production facilities had sub-contracted out the the manufacture of the earlier brass hilts to Samuel Huse who had a foundry in nearby Newburyport, Massachusetts. In 1834 Ames started producing the improved hilts at their Chicopee Falls factory canceling the sub-contract to Huse. Swords dated 1835 and later have the improved hilts. Ames continued to produce a total of 20,100 foot artillery swords with the last delivery of 300 being May 24, 1862. Despite all the "toos", this sword continued to serve the foot artillery until 1870. There were numerous variations made over the years in fullers, with and without, blade markings as to addresses and of the Ames company marking. Some saw Navy usage as well. In CIVIL WAR SMALL ARMS OF THE U.S NAVY AND MARINE CORPS by John D. McAulay, he documents the fact that the Army sent the Mississippi Squadron 300 Model 1832 foot artillery swords for the use of the fleet in February of 1862. There is also reference to 20 Artillery Swords being supplied by the Watervliet Arsenal in 1852 to Perry's flag ship, the Mississippi, for it's expedition to Japan.  Pre Civil War Naval small arms inventories list such items under swords as "Ames-Pattern", "Roman", "cutlasses" and under cutlass as "Roman", "Curved" and "Straight".  Later listings are noted that show "boarding swords" and "cutlasses" as separate weapons. It is perfectly conceivable that in the 9 years between the issuance of the Model 1832 Artillery Sword and the Model 1841 Naval Cutlass that more than a few Model 1832 Artillery Swords could be found in Naval inventories. The sword featured here is in a French or European manufactured scabbard for the French Artillery Model of 1816 "Coupe - choux" which served as the pattern for the U.S. Model 1832 Foot Artillery sword. This scabbard has been with this sword for it's known history. There is an anchor stamping on the obverse of the scabbard throat.

 

FOOT ARTILLERY SWORD IN SCABBARD

FOOT ARTILLERY SWORD IN SCABBARD

 

FOOT ARTILLERY SWORD W/O SCABBARD

FOOT ARTILLERY SWORD W/O SCABBARD

ANCHOR STAMPING - SCABBARD THROAT
ANCHOR STAMPING - SCABBARD THROAT

 


 

     The 1832 dated Ames Foot Artillery sword  featured here has a straight, delicately wasp shaped blade. It is double edged and elliptical in cross-section. There are two side by side broad lower fullers, starting 1-1/16" from the hilt that are each 3-9/16" long by 7/16" wide. Then, after a space of  11/16", there is a single broad 7/16" wide center fuller that extends 10-7/16" towards the blade's spear shaped point. The over all blade length is 18-15/16''. The blade is 1-3/4" wide at the hilt then curves inward to 1-9/16" before flaring out again to 1-3/4" and tapering gracefully to it's point. The blade is stamped on the reverse, near the hilt "UNITED /  STATES / 1832" in 3 lines. On the obverse, near the hilt, stamped under an American eagle, is "N. P. AMES / SPRINGFIELD" in 2 lines. The 6-1/8" long hilt and cross guard are stamped brass. The grips have been molded in a scalloped eagle feather design. Three transverse iron rivets secure it to the tang of the blade. The tribolated pommel is decorated on each side with a heavily incised American eagle, with shield, holding arrows in his left talon and a olive branch in his right talon. The eagle's head faces towards it's right. The straight cross quillons terminate in disk shaped finials and are 4-7/32" across. On the top flat of the cross guard, on the obverse blade side looking down,  is the horizontal stamping of "'S. HUSE" over "NEWBURYPORT ". To the right of that stamping, running vertically next to the finial is the stamping of  "J.A.J.B." within a lined border. These are the initials of James A. J. Bradford, an Army inspector. On the top flat of the other quillon is a stamped "M". This is thought to denote the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The sword is 25"+/- over all. The French or European made scabbard is black leather with a brass throat and tip.

 

LOWER BLADE FULLERS

LOWER BLADE FULLERS

 

UPPER BLADE FULLER

UPPER BLADE FULLER

 

OBVERSE BLADE STAMPING

OBVERSE BLADE STAMPING
"N. P. AMES / SPRINGFIELD"

 

REVERSE BLADE STAMPING

REVERSE BLADE STAMPING
"UNITED STATES / 1832"

 

OBVERSE  VIEW - HILT

OBVERSE  VIEW - HILT

 

REVERSE  VIEW - HILT

REVERSE  VIEW - HILT

 

OBVERSE VIEW - POMMEL

OBVERSE VIEW - POMMEL

 

REVERSE VIEW - POMMEL

REVERSE VIEW - POMMEL

 

CROSS GUARD  STAMPINGS

CROSS GUARD  STAMPINGS

 

" S. HUSE / NEWBURYPORT" STAMPING - CLOSE UP

" S. HUSE / NEWBURYPORT" STAMPING - CLOSE UP

 

" J. A. J. B."  INSPECTOR'S INITIALS CROSS GUARD

" J. A. J. B."  INSPECTOR'S INITIALS CROSS GUARD

 

"M" STAMPING CROSS GUARD

"M" STAMPING CROSS GUARD (COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS ?)

 


 

     This probable French made scabbard is 19-5/8" over all and 2" wide. The brass throat is 1-11/16" long and the brass tip measures 4-3/32". Both the throat and tip are secured by 3/8" long horizontal brass stables on both the obverse and reverse. There is a 1/8" thick inleted brass bar 1/2" from the top of the obverse throat. It measures 1-1/8" over all with an inside measurement of 7/8" for attaching to a frog. It extends out from the throat about 1/4". Centered above the brass bar at the top of the throat is a anchor stamping that may have been added after issuance of this French sword scabbard. A close-up of that stamping is shown above.

 

OBVERSE OF SCABBARD THROAT

OBVERSE OF SCABBARD THROAT
NOTE ANCHOR STAMPING, BRASS BAR AND BRASS STAPLE

 

TOP VIEW OF SCABBARD THROAT

TOP VIEW OF SCABBARD THROAT
NOTE BRASS BAR

 

SCABBARD TIP

SCABBARD TIP
(Note: Scabbard is thought to be for the French Artillery Sword Model of 1816 used as the pattern model for the U.S. Model 1832 Foot Artillery Sword)

 


 

     Reference credits go to the "COLLECTORS' GUIDE TO AMES U.S. CONTRACT MILITARY EDGED WEAPONS: 1832 - 1906" by Ron G. Hickox , "CIVIL WAR SMALL ARMS OF THE U.S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS" by John D. McAulay and the classic "THE AMERICAN SWORD 1775-1945" by Harold L. Peterson.

 

     For more on the Ames Sword Company, you are encouraged to look at the following web pages:

http://www.amessword.com/body_index.html

http://www.manatarmsbooks.com/early.html

http://swordcoll.www2.50megs.com/marks/Manufacturers.htm

 

     Once again, my son Reed Radcliffe, who is also the web master of this page, gets all the credit for arranging and posting this web page. The pictures, this write-up, errors in judgment and assumptions are mine as are any awkward sentences or spelling errors.

 

     Part 2 of 2 on Ames artillery swords will be posted, God willing, in about 7 to 10 days.  Part 2 is titled:

 

The 1840 Model (Dated 1847) Ames Horse or Light Artillery Saber

 

1844 Model (Dated 1847) Ames Saber

Note:  Although designated as the Model 1840 Light Artillery Saber, The Ames Sword Company did not receive a government contract for this model sword until 1844 with delivery commencing in 1845.  Therefore it is sometimes referred to as the Ames Model of 1844 Horse or Light Artillery Saber.

 

Dave Radcliffe