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A TALE OF TWO SWORDS

ONE OF STEEL AND ONE OF WOOD

Picture - Full View Both Swords
Model 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! 
Picture - Both Sword Guards
The wood GAR sword is on the left. The U.S. Regulation sword is on the right.

        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 7, 1862.
        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. " 
Picture - Healy's Inscription
Picture - Eagle on the pommel of Healy's Sword Picture - Eagle on the Guard of Healy's Sword
Picture - Slot for the knot on Healy's sword

The blade markings are as follows:
Picture - US Sword Dealer's Mark
Picture - European Blade Maker's Mark
The US Sword Dealer - Horstmann Philadelphia 
European blade maker's mark
Picture - Blade marking
 Blade Marking
        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 YORK VOLS." 
Picture - Wooden GAR sword tag
        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 as follows:
Picture - Wood sword guard mark
Picture - Wood Sword Eagle on Pommel
Picture - Wood sword guard back
Picture - Wood sword carrying ring
Picture - Wood sword drag
        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? 
The wood GAR sword measures 36" overall. The ¾" blade is 30¼" long. The pommel and guard measures 5¾" 
Picture - Full view - Both Swords in Sheaths
Two swords, two brave wounded men, Two heroes.
Dave Radcliffe