MODEL 1841 NAVAL OFFICER’S SWORD IDENTIFIED TO SIMON BACKUS BISSELL

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Item Code: 870-63

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Simon Backus Bissell was born in Fairlee, Vt., on October 28, 1808. He was appointed Midshipman on November 6, 1824, Passed Midshipman on June 4 1831, and Lieutenant December 9, 1837.

At the beginning of the Mexican-American War, he was assigned to the Home Squadron, in command of the sloop Albany. The 20-gun vessel sailed from New York on November 28, 1846, and was part of the naval battery during the siege of Vera Cruz. After occupying Vera Cruz in late March 1847, Commodore Matthew Perry led an expedition into the interior from Alvarado, Mexico in mid-April. One of the vessels in the expedition was the steamer Petrita, commanded by Lieutenant Bissell. During an engagement at the towns of Tlacotalpam and Talascosa, six of Bissell's men were wounded.

Just prior to the Civil War, Bissell commanded the sloop Cyane, in the Pacific Squadron, in 1861 and 1862.  He was promoted to Captain on July 16, 1862. He was stationed at Mare Island Navy Yard in 1863 and 1864.

Promoted to Commodore on October 10, 1866, he commanded the sloop-of-war Monongahela, North Atlantic Squadron, in 1866 and 1867. On November 18, 1867, after an earthquake, Monongahela was hit by the tidal wave from she anchorage off Frederickstadt, Island of St. Croix, "over the warehouses and into the streets of the town. The return wave then landed the vessel on a coral reef at the waters edge." She was not seriously damaged by the freak incident and was subsequently refloated.

He was on special service in 1869, and was on the Examining Board in 1870. He was placed on the retired list on March 1, 1870.

Commodore Bissell died in Paris, France, February 18, 1883.   Source: VermontCivilWar.org.

The identification is on the blade approx. 8” from the ricasso. Etched when the blade was etched is “S. B. BISSELL / USN” inside a wreath of oak leaves. The sword is the small pattern M1841 Eagle head pommel with the folding guards. The front guard is cast with oak leaves and acorns. The backdrop is cast integral with the pommel and is finely decorated with simulated feathers. The grip is ivory with a checkered pattern.

The blade measures 28.25” and is a narrow .9” in width and is a quill back design. The top part of the etching is worn and very light. It begins with “N.P. AMES / CUTLER / SPRINGFIELD”,  floral designs, a seaman lookout, a stand of arms, American eagle and foliate. The reverse etching has a floral design, a fouled anchor with rays, Bissell’s name in a wreath, a full sailing ship, American eagle with stars and rays and finishes with foliate.

The black leather scabbard is back seamed with brass mounts. The top mount / throat has a carrying ring and a stud mount. The middle mount is engraved with a fouled anchor. The drag is plain with the exception of two lines. The top mount reverse is missing the applied “Ames” scroll. Scabbard is a tight fit.

Ex-Kevin Hoffman Collection.   [ss]

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