SCHUYLER, HARTLEY AND GRAHAM PRESENTATION SWORD TO LIEUTENANT R.F. ALLEN, 8th MICHIGAN CAVALRY

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Item Code: 870-638

This sword was presented to Lieutenant Robert F. Allen, Co. E, 8th Michigan cavalry and bears an applied silver plaque, octagon in shape, with scalloped edges, professionally engraved in script, “Presented to / Lieut. R.F. Allen/ by his Company / 8th Mich. Cavalry.

Allen’s commission dated from November 1, 1862, indicating he was involved with the regiment from its inception, and he served in it until resigning and receiving a discharge for disability in December 1863. The sword is Schuyler, Hartley and Graham marked and patterned on the British Rifle Officer’s Sword of 1827, retaining the British style crown and hunting horn in the guard, but with U.S. blade etching, something paralleled in other U.S. Civil War officers’ swords, including one presented to a Rhode Island Light Artillery officer illustrated by Thillmann on page 411 of US Army Swords.

Men of the 8th Michigan Cavalry enlisted as early as the Fall of 1862. The regiment did not formally begin to organize until December, however, and the organization was not completed until May 1863 at Mount Clemens. Robert F. Allen (1833-1911) is recorded as enlisting and mustering in as a farrier in Co. D on 8/27/1862. He is thus likely the Robert F. Allen listed in the 1860 census as a blacksmith in Kimball, St. Clair County, Michigan, but by 1862 seems to have moved to Plymouth, Wayne County, and then enlisted at Northville, a short distance away. The appointment as farrier was likely intended to be temporary or Allen got a better offer since he received his commission as Second Lieutenant of Co. E dated just two months later, 11/1/62.

In May 1863 regiment was sent to Kentucky and saw its first action in a skirmish at Triplet’s Bridge in June. For the rest of the summer it was actively engaged in fighting John Hunt Morgan and then pursuing him on his raid into Indiana and Ohio, after which it returned to Kentucky and then took part in the Knoxville Campaign in East Tennessee. The battle honors earned by the regiment during Allen’s service included the following: Bridge, Ky., June 19, 1863; Lebanon, Ky., July 5, 1863; Lawrenceburg, Ky., July 9, 1863; Salvisa, Ky., July 10, 1863;  Buffington's Island, Ohio, July 19, 1863; Winchester, Ky., July  25, 1863; Salineville, Ohio, July 26, 1863; Lancaster, Ky.,  July 30, 1863; Stamford, Ky., July 31, 1863; Kingston, Tenn.,  Sept. 1, 1863; Cleveland, Tenn., Sept. 18, 1863; Calhoun,  Tenn., Sept. 26, 1863; Athens, Tenn., Sept. 27, 1863; Louden,  Tenn., Sept. 29, 1863; Philadelphia, Tenn., Oct. 23, 1863;  Sweet Water, Tenn., Oct. 26, 1863; Lenoir Station, Tenn., Nov.  12, 1863; Campbell's Station, Tenn., Nov. 16, 1863; Knoxville,  Tenn., Nov. 18, 1863; Rutledge, Tenn., Dec. 10, 1863.

The campaign in East Tennessee was particularly rigorous and likely explains Allen’s eventual discharge for disability:

During the month of September the regiment was constantly in the saddle, scouting and skirmishing with the enemy, and on the 26th the Cavalry Brigade, of which the Eighth formed a part, was attacked by General Forest with a force estimated at  15,000. The Union forces were not strong enough to withstand General Forest and were pushed back to Loudon, stubbornly contesting the ground all the way. During October the Eighth was at Athens, Sweetwater, Oak Springs and Kingston, Tenn., and in its numerous engagements suffered severely in killed, wounded and prisoners.

November, 1863, the Eighth was at Lenoir, Tenn., where it met the advancing forces of General Longstreet, who was then marching upon Knoxville.  The confederates slowly pushed the Union Troops before them until they retired behind their works in Knoxville and Fort Saunders.  The Eighth helped to defend Knoxville and when the siege was raised followed the retreating enemy, harassing him at every opportunity.

During the last of the year 1863 and the first of 1864 the Eighth was on duty in the field continuously, though suffering severely from the hardships incident to that campaign.  The weather was severely cold and stormy, rations were so hard to secure that men and horses were often brought to the verge of  starvation, and blankets and clothing so worn as to be no  protection against the cold and tents were unknown.  The severe marching without forage had killed so many horses that the regiment was dismounted, as no animals could be found to replace those worn out and exhausted.

Allen returned home and applied for disability pension on Feb. 13, 1864. He is listed as a member of Fairbanks Post #17 of the G.A.R. in Detroit, but by 1894 was in Imlay City, where is died in 1911 and is buried. His tombstone records him as a captain, which might be a postwar state brevet or National Guard rank.

The sword is a standard configuration that was popular with many officers because of its robust iron scabbard and hilt (the well-known “Peterson-75” copied this pattern.) The hilt is smooth gray metal with brown tones, and has the standard backstrap, scrolled quillon, obverse scrolling guard branches with crown/hunting horn, and short false branch on the reverse. The sharkskin grip shows a couple of small wear spots showing the wood on the upper obverse edge along the backstrap near the pommel, but in general has good color and little flaking. The triple binding wire is all there.

Like the hilt, the blade is smooth metal, with no pitting or nicks, and is the standard configuration with a slight curve, a single fuller, and spearpoint tip. The blade is etched and the motifs are very clear and muted silver against a light gray background. The obverse is etched with a six-pointed star at the ricasso and has an insert brass disk reading “Proved,” that was an attempt by British makers to distinguish their work from German copies, (which, of course, quickly began to insert similar disks themselves.) Above that the etching includes a tall stand of arms with a hunting horn like that in the guard hanging from crossed U.S. flags, above which rises an eagle with raised wings atop a pole, and a foliate script US on an oval panel with sunburst with floral scrolls at the top. The gray frosting of the panel terminates in an arabesque keyhole. The reverse is etched at the ricasso, “Schuyler / Hartley / & Graham / New York.” Floral scrolls at top and bottom surround a central, long oval sunburst panel with an American eagle with raised wings clutching arrows and branch, holding in its beak a scroll dry point etched (or engraved) E Pluribus Unum.” The scabbard is smooth metal, gray in color mixed with brown, that includes some scattered rust spots.

We include in this listing a scan of an image appearing online identified as Allen and it may well be. The officer is a second lieutenant and seems to have enlisted style cavalry insignia on the top of his cap, perhaps indicated he was newly promoted from enlisted status. The sword he holds, however, is not this one, but a regulation foot officer’s sword. The name “R.F. Allen" seems to appear in pencil at the bottom of the image. We cannot vouch for the identification, but include it as a possible image of the sword owner.

In any case, this is a good example of an officer’s fighting sword presented to him by the men under his command.  [sr]

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