IMPORT NON-REGULATION FOOT OFFICER’S SWORD ID’D TO TWICE WOUNDED 6TH WISCONSIN & 12TH NEW HAMPSHIRE OFFICER WHO ALSO SAW SERVICE IN THE MEXICAN WAR AS AN ENLISTED MAN

$3,250.00

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Item Code: 172-3587

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This sword is identified to Colonel John F. Marsh who served as a Lieutenant and Captain in the 6th Wisconsin of the famous “Iron Brigade” and then became Lieutenant Colonel of the 12th New Hampshire before going to the Veteran Reserve Corps where he earned the rank of Colonel.

The sword and scabbard are in good used condition and there is no doubt that this was Marsh’s every day “work” sword.

The blade is bright with only light scattered mottling throughout and has the usual stopped fuller. The edge has no visible nicks and none can be felt. Both sides of the blade are etched. The obverse has a central design of a spread-winged eagle atop an arch over a panoply of flags and a patriotic shield. Flanking this central design are scroll-worked ferns with oak leaves. The central design on the reverse are the letters “US” above a stand of arms which includes pikes, axes, spontoons, shields and a spread-winged eagle. This central design is flanked by scroll-work decorations to match the opposite side and ends with an arc of 13 five-pointed stars over a single larger star. Though the etching is not “frosty” it is clear and very visible.

The ricasso is marked on the obverse with a circle that contains the word “PROVED” with a Maltese cross. Above this mark is etched in three lines “COL. JOHN / F. MARSH / 1861-1865.” This etching was obviously done by Colonel Marsh just after the war. The reverse ricasso is stamped with the figure of a standing knight surrounded by “CLAUBERG SOLINGEN.” The original white buff leather washer is still present and complete.

The hilt has a ribbed grip covered in sharkskin but the wire is missing. The iron pommel cap is tiered. There is an iron back strap with “ears” that extends down the spine of the grip to an iron ferrule. The knuckle-bow begins narrow at the pommel cap and widens out into a basket shaped guard with seven distinct branches. Three of the branches have cutout centers where they widen. On one side of the blade the branches form a cutout scrollwork design with nice detailed engraving on the face to show individual leaf patterns. On the opposite side of the blade the guard is somewhat narrow with a single cut out. The whole thing ends in a wide quillon. The iron of the hilt has some light mottling and the grip shows wear, especially around the edges.

The metal scabbard has been lightly cleaned but is complete with both mounts and rings. The throat is present as is the drag. The drag does exhibit wear from heavy use. The scabbard body has the usual small dings and one small dent approx. 7.00 inches up from the drag.

The following online biography of Colonel Marsh tells most of his story:

“Colonel John F. Marsh was born February 1, 1828, at Hudson, New Hampshire, and is of the seventh generation from George Marsh, who came from England with his family in 1635, and settled at Hingham, Massachusetts. The son of a farmer, his educational advantages were the public schools and village academy. Failing to receive an expected appointment as a cadet at West Point, young Marsh shouldered a musket in the spring of 1847, and, in the Ninth United States Infantry, joined the army under Scott, to serve during the war with Mexico. The regiment landed at Vera Cruz in June, and a month later, in the command of General Pierce, afterwards President, marched into the interior, crossing the burning sands of the Tierra Caliente under a tropical sun in midsummer. Pierce's command was constantly menaced on the march by the enemy in the mountain passes; the soldiers, sleeping by their muskets at night, pushed forward by day to the music of whizzing bullets and rattling musketry. August 7 the command joined Scott at Pueblo, and four days later, with the army, moved forward towards the Valley of Mexico.

The battles of Contreras and Churubusco, August 19 and 20, followed by Molino del Rey September 8, Chapultepec, the Garitas, and City of Mexico, the 12th, 13th, and 14th, afforded the young soldier his practical military training. He was mustered out of the service August 23, 1848, after the close of the war, at Newport, Rhode Island.

The discovery of gold in California called his attention in that direction, and he sailed from New York in January, 1849, on the ship "William F. Travis," for Galveston, Texas, where he organized a company, of which he was captain, and crossing Northern Mexico, her mountains and desert waste, enlivened by an occasional skirmish with hostile Indians, he camped in the New El Dorado in June, 1849, a modern Argonaut.

In 1855-56 he was a special agent of the Post-Office Department, New York to San Francisco, in the last year settling at Hastings, Minnesota, where he was postmaster for five years, and also mayor of the city.

Colonel Marsh entered the military service a second time June 17, 1861, as first lieutenant Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, afterwards a part of the "Iron Brigade," Army of the Potomac, and was promoted to a captaincy in October. He was wounded in the knee at the battle of Gainesville, August 28, 1862, and September following was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Twelfth New Hampshire Infantry. An incident at the battle of Fredericksburg, in 1862, is worth mentioning. At two o'clock on the morning of December 16, Colonel Marsh was ordered to place two companies of his regiment on the picket-line. Returning an hour later to report to General Whipple, he saw the streets filled with moving troops. "We are to re-cross the river," said the general. "Not the army?" queried the colonel. "Yes; and nearly over now," was the reply. "But my two companies?" "They may be withdrawn, they may be sacrificed; you must cross with your regiment," said the general.

Colonel Marsh crossed the river, as ordered; but returned and succeeded in saving his men, bringing them to the river just as the pontoons were being withdrawn. For this service, although he disobeyed orders, he was personally thanked by General Whipple, who said, "You have greatly relieved me, colonel. I expected the men would be sacrificed. I couldn't help it; you saw my orders."

A severe wound, (in left thigh) received May 3, 1863, at the battle of Chancellorsville, compelled him to retire from field-service, and January 22, 1864, he was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps, serving during the last year of the war on General Casey's board, convened for the examination of candidates for commissions in the military service, and on special duty in the Inspector-General's Department, visiting and reporting upon the condition of the several prisons and their military guards west of New York, where Confederate prisoners-of-war were confined.

April 20, 1865, Colonel Marsh was commissioned colonel of the Twenty-fourth United States Colored Infantry, but declined the appointment, doubting the expediency of employing the freed slaves as soldiers. March 13, 1865, he was brevetted colonel "for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia." He resigned August 16, 1865. In November, 1866, he was appointed United States pension agent at Concord, New Hampshire.”

After the war he worked in the paper producing business and was active as a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. His Chancellorsville wound caused him pain throughout his life and grew worse with age. John F. Marsh died on January 10, 1915 in Springfield, Massachusetts and is buried in Edgewood Cemetery, Nashua, New Hampshire.

This sword serves as a very nice memorial to a man who served his country faithfully in two wars and suffered from wounds received in that service for the rest of his life.

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