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3 SWORDS IN TWO PARTS

 

FOR THIS WEEK AND NEXT WEEK, WE WILL BE LOOKING AT 3 DIFFERENT AMERICAN MILITARY OFFICER'S SWORDS FROM THE EARLY 1800'S. EACH SWORD IS FROM A DIFFERENT BRANCH OF SERVICE. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT FOLLOWING ARE NAVY, MOUNTED ARTILLERY AND INFANTRY OFFICER'S SWORDS. THEY DATE, RESPECTIVELY, FROM APPROXIMATELY 1808 TO 1850.

 

3 DIFFERENT AMERICAN MILITARY OFFICER'S SWORDS Obverse View

3 DIFFERENT AMERICAN MILITARY OFFICER'S SWORDS Reverse View

 

Left to right: Naval Officer's Eagle Head Sword 1808-1830, Mounted Artillery Officer's Sword 1815-1840, Infantry Officer's Indian Head Sword 1835-1850 (All dates approximate).

 


 

PART 1

 

MOUNTED ARTILLERY OFFICER'S SABER

 

1815-1840

 

MOUNTED ARTILLERY OFFICER'S SABER Overall in scabbard view

 

     This sword measures 35" overall. The 30-3/8" curved, single edged blade is without a true false edge. A shallow broad fuller extends from the ricasso to within 7-1/8" of the blade point. The blade, at the hilt, is 1-1/8" wide and ¼" thick. It is 1" wide until it tapers to it's point starting about 23¼" from the ricasso. The blade at one time was partially blued with the decorations having gilt etchings. Traces of that gilt remain.

 

     There is no maker's names or marks visible. There are floral sprays and military trophies etched on both sides of the blade. On the obverse side there is a stylized Indian arrow imposed over a oak leaf like etching and a etched Indian head with an elaborate head dress. These etching are very light and difficult to photograph. However, our attempts follow:

 

Indian Head - Obverse Arrow Panel - Obverse Trophy Detail - Obverse
Indian Head - Obverse Arrow Panel - Obverse Trophy Detail - Obverse

Lower Blade - Reverse

Trophy Detail - Reverse

Lower Blade - Reverse Trophy Detail - Reverse

 

     The grips are carved bone with horizontal and diagonal grooving. The reverse P pattern knuckle-bow is decorated with an intertwined beaded cord or sword knot design. The brass backing of the grip is heavily embossed with a oak leaf design that terminates at the top of the pommel with 4 diagonally opposed acorns. There are shield like shaped langents on each side of the blade. They each bear a wreath encircling an oval medallion carrying the motto “PARTA TUERI” along with a group of 15 six-pointed stars over 15 stripes arranged in the manner of a U.S. shield. All metal parts of the hilt are gilded brass as is the scabbard.

 

Obverse View of Hilt Reverse View of Hilt
Obverse View of Hilt Reverse View of Hilt
Back of Grip Top of Pommel
Back of Grip Top of Pommel
Langent Detail
Langent Detail

 


 

     The gilded brass scabbard is heavily etched on the obverse side with floral and geometric diamond shaped designs along with an American eagle with shield. There is a rudimentary drag and a suspension consisting of 2 brass carrying rings 8½" apart. The first ring is mounted 2-5/8" from the scabbard mouth. This scabbard is missing it's throat. It also has a heavy crease in it about 9" up from the drag.

 

Mouth and Top Ring Middle Ring Drag
Mouth and Top Ring Middle Ring Drag
U.S. Eagle with Shield
U.S. Eagle with Shield


 

     I got this sword from Vince Malon about 15 or so years ago. At that time Vince claimed he had purchased it from a relative of Stewart Van Vliet, West Point Graduate Number 1025, class of 1840. Van Vliet was born in New York, appointed from Maine. He was an artillery quarter master, Florida Indian War, 1840-42. In the Mexican War he served in the Maine militia as a colonel. A brigadier general of U.S Volunteers in 1861, he received 5 brevets to major general. From 1875 -1881 he was the Inspector General for the Quarter Master Department, Washington, DC. He died in Washington, DC., March 28, 1901 at the age of 86.

 

     His grandson, great grandson and great-great grandson all attended West Point.

 

     I made these notes on the back of my business cards when I got this sword or shortly thereafter. I have absolutely no official documentation on this sword as to it belonging to General Van Vliet. Only Vince's word as to this being so.

 

My Notes
My Notes

 


 

     Well, next week, we will have Part 2 of this three sword posting. There was just too much detail for a single posting.
     Reference credits go to “THE AMERICAN SWORD, 1775-1945" by Harold L. Peterson. The posting credits go, as usual to my webmaster and son, Reed Radcliffe.

 

Overall View Without Scabbard
One Last Picture - Overall View Without Scabbard

 

     See you all next week.

 

Dave Radcliffe