M1850 STAFF AND FIELD OFFICER’S SWORD ID’D TO OFFICER IN CHARGE OF DRY TORTUGAS PRISON WHEN LINCOLN CONSPIRATORS WERE HELD THERE

$3,500.00
Originally $3,950.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 173-2624

This original, imported Model 1850 Staff and Field Officer’s sword, complete with original metal scabbard, is a most handsome specimen. This quality steel edged weapon measures a total length of almost 38” from tip to pommel.

The fine steel blade is 31¾” long and carries a 16” narrow fuller and a 23 ¼”un-stopped wide fuller. Blade, with its flat back, is bright and profusely embellished via the acid etching process on both sides which features ornate military motifs and floral designs. Leather washer is present. The ornate obverse etching extends upward with foliate and military motifs, a shield device, a spreadwinged eagle, then a pennant with “E PLURIBUS UNUM”, more foliate to within 4 ½“ of the wide fuller tip. Reverse ricasso has no maker’s mark. The etching has a panoply of arms, a foliate design, the ornate capital letters “US” followed with more decorative foliate. This handsome blade wears a fine satin-like sheen overall. Has just a few scattered light discoloration spots and rubs, mostly near the point. No edge nicks visible.

Sword has a highly detailed, two-band cutout, brass hilt with the guard and knucklebow cast in one piece. Upper band of brass hilt features prominent cutout letters “US” surrounded by finely detailed, cutout foliate. Lower band has an intricate, foliate cutout design. Covering the center-swelled wood handle is a grip of dark gray sharkskin, possibly rayskin, in excellent tight condition with just normal slight wear. Double twisted brass wire is wrapped tightly about the grooves in the handle. Brass ‘Phrygian-style’ pommel cap is border-engraved in a floral pattern and exhibits a plain tiered domed top. Cap is tight on tang. Hilt is also tight. Ornate quillon, never bent. All gilt brass has a light patina and some light wear and dirt.

The blued steel scabbard is in very good original condition. The two brass ring mounts are plain with decorative borders. The tight, brass throat collar is inset at the throat and is secured with one small brass screw. There is a very small chip in the scabbard in this area. Each of the brass ring mounts are firmly in place. Brass sword rings solidly attached. Both rings are slightly out of round. Bands and drag have their small, brass setscrews. Drag has a minor dent near middle.

Sword has a verbal identification to Colonel Charles Hamilton of the 110th New York Infantry and commander of the government prison at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Florida. The verbal identification is supported by notarized letter from the soldier’s great-grandson stating that the sword resided in his family until he sold it in 2001.

Charles Hamilton was 33 years old when he enlisted as a Sergeant in Company I, 5th New York Infantry on April 25, 1861. He served with the regiment at Big Bethel, Gaines’ Mill and 2nd Bull Run. He was discharged for promotion to Major in the 110th New York on September 8, 1862.

The 110th New York took part in the siege of Port Hudson in which Major Hamilton led the regiment and was promoted to Colonel on December 10, 1863.

In February of 1864 the regiment was sent to Fort Jefferson and Hamilton was appointed Commandant. Hamilton remained behind when the 110th moved elsewhere. Hamilton was still in command when the Lincoln conspirators Mudd, Arnold, Spangler and O’Laughlin arrived to serve their time. In his book “DEFENSE AND PRISON EXPERIENCES OF A LINCOLN CONSPIRATOR” Samuel Arnold says “WE WERE NOW LEFT UNDER THE CHARGE OF COL. CHARLES HAMILTON, 110TH N.Y. VOLUNTEERS WHO WAS AT THIS PERIOD COMMANDANT OF THE POST. HE GAVE US INSTRUCTIONS RELATIVE TO THE RULES IN FORCE STATING THE CONSEQUENCES, WHICH WOULD ATTEND ANY BREACH OF DISCIPLINE, FINALLY IMPRESSING UPON OUR MIND THAT THERE WAS A DARK AND GLOOMY DUNGEON WITHIN THE FORT TO WHICH OFFENDERS AGAINST THE RULES WERE CONSIGNED, OVER WHOSE ENTRANCE WERE INSCRIBED THESE CLASSIC WORDS ‘WHOSO ENTERETH HERE LEAVETH ALL HOPES BEHIND.’”

Colonel Hamilton became ill during a yellow fever outbreak at the prison and was probably treated by Dr. Samuel Mudd who, though a prisoner, was the only physician on the post. Hamilton recovered and left the post in 1869 with his wife and four children who were all born at the fort.

With the sword are Colonel Hamilton’s military and pension records as well as a copy photo of him in uniform and a small file of research. The original notarized letter identifying the sword to Colonel Hamilton and signed by his great grandson also comes with the item.  [ad]

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