in Firearm History
Frequently Asked Questions
(From the Cody Firearms Museum)
Links to Forums
At Other Sites
History of a Gun
by Jim Supica
And Military Records
Museums With Arms Exhibits
U.S. Military Arms
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M1917 Enfield Parts
Enfield Sling Instructions
Garand Disassembly and Parts
Cartridge Research Association
of American Bayonet Collectors
(From Empire Arms. Use at own risk.)
(& Factory Letters)
Codes & Markings
Antiques Roadshow Advice
Article by Jim Supica
Article by David Kopel
Care & Records
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Arms / Gun Show Listings
At Arms List
(Info coming soon)
for Uniform Display
Make them yourself!
TALE OF TWO SWORDS
OF STEEL AND ONE OF WOOD
1860 Staff and Field - right one is regulation - made of steel. The
left one is a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) variant - made of wood!
wood GAR sword is on the left. The U.S. Regulation sword is on the
The Model 1860 Staff and Field Officer's was adopted on August 28,
1860. Probably because these officers would rarely if ever be called
upon to use one in a battle, this sword was ill suited to combat.
Fortunately, it was not mandatory and many, if not most, of the staff
and field officers choose to use the earlier Model 1850 which had
proved itself to be a fairly sturdy weapon. As a result it was not
generally utilized until the end of the Civil War. In 1872 it became
mandatory for all officers with the exception of medical staff, pay
masters, mounted officers of infantry, cavalry and light artillery.
However, among those who did carry this sword during the Civil War
was Major Virgil M. Healy, a thrice wounded officer. He enlisted on
August 17, 1861 at Trenton, New Jersey in the 5th Regiment, New Jersey
Infantry, Company B as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant
on March 31, 1862. On May 5, 1862 he was shot through the right arm
near the shoulder while in action in the face of the enemy at Williamsburg,
Virginia. He was commissioned as the Captain of Company B as of May
On July 2nd, at Gettysburg, he was again wounded by a piece of shell
while in action attempting to capture 2 pieces of rebel artillery.
He was wounded in the thigh and suffered the lost of the middle finger
on the right hand with another finger being disabled. In October he
returned to duty as Captain of Company B. On November 24, 1863 he
was promoted to Major and transferred to the 8th New Jersey Volunteers.
He was mustered out Sept. 7, 1864 and discharged as of September 21.
He married a New Orleans girl in May of 1866. They had 1 child, a
girl, Feb. 24, 1867. Major Virgil M. Healy dies in Atlanta, GA. on
June 24, 1871, not due to wounds, but by reason of "chronic diarrhea
contracted in the U.S. military service." He was 34 years old.
To his everlasting glory, it can truly be said that he gave the Confederates
"the finger" at Gettysburg and lived to tell about it!
Following are pictures of the Model 1860 Staff and Field Officer sword
presented to him when he was a Captain, by, as inscribed on the counter
guard, "his friends. "
The blade markings
are as follows:
The US Sword
Dealer - Horstmann Philadelphia
The sword dimensions are 35¾" overall with the 9/16" wide engraved
blade being 28¾" long and the grip and guard being 7" in length.
The blade is diamond shaped in cross section.
The wood sword
has a tag tied to it. It states "THIS WOOD SWORD HAND CARVED BY
GRANDPA JIM WHITE WHO SERVED IN THE CIVIL WAR IN CO. K 14TH NEW
Jim White enlisted as "a Private of Captain Morris, Company K of the
14th Regiment of Militia of the State of New York." He enlisted at
Brooklyn N.Y. on June 30, 1861 for 3 years. He was discharged by reason
of "Surgeon's Certificate of Disability" in December of 1862 for "Battle
Wounds" at age 30. His occupation was listed as "Wood Carver" on his
Certificate of Discharge.
And was he ever a "Wood Carver." He further reduced the fighting effectiveness
of the Model 1860 by carving one out of what appears to be Balsa wood.
He copied the GAR sword of the time which was a variant of the US
Model 1860. It's complete with Balsa wood scabbard, carrying rings
and drag. He painted the blade and scabbard silver, the pommel and
guard gold and the grip black (for the leather look). He inscribed
GAR into the guard and an eagle on the pommel. The details are pictured
Two things for certain, Mr. White saved some money by making his own
GAR sword and he probably had the lightest sword in the parades. It
does not weigh one pound!
From a distance it looks like a real sword. It is only when you pick
it up that you fully realize how efficient it is for doing absolutely
no battle. Ah, if all wars were fought with such weapons, there would
be no deaths, no victories and no losses. Jim White was really on
to something. Do you think he knew it?
wood GAR sword measures 36" overall. The ¾" blade is 30¼"
long. The pommel and guard measures 5¾"
Two swords, two
brave wounded men, Two heroes.