CIVIL WAR IMPORT OFFICER’S SWORD PRESENTED TO 1ST LIEUTENANT WILLIAM REED OF THE DUQUESNE GRAYS IN 1870

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Item Code: 970-01

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When drawn from the scabbard the overall length of the sword is approx. 38.00 inches measuring from point to pommel. The blade itself meas. approx. 32.00 inches from point to the base of the ricasso. Blade surface is bright with light scattered mottling. There is no visible pitting on either side of the blade. The true edge has several small nicks. The blade has a 24.00 inch unstopped wide fuller and a 16.50 inch narrow fuller. Blade is clearly etched with foliate and arms on the obverse with a spread-winged eagle and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” riband. The reverse side has foliate with a large, wide “US.” The thin leather washer at the base of the ricasso is worn but present.

The finely cast, large American eagle brass French embellished guard / hilt displays a detailed, non-regulation Eagle and Medallion style guard. The intricately cast face of the large guard displays the eagle on a shield device, a pennant with seven stars, oak leaf scrolls, acanthus leaves, and flows into a multi-cutout decorative branch that terminates into a strong knucklebow. Brass hilt is strong and tight on the blade tang. It exhibits a very fine, mellow patina that has not been cleaned. The back-swelled handle is a grip of a standard design made of ribbed wood covered in sharkskin that is in very good condition. This is wrapped by a twisted brass wire flanked on each course by plain brass wire. Wire is tight. Base has a plain brass ferrule. There is also a heavily decorated brass spine leading to a Phrygian pommel cap that exhibits a finely cast border with an ornate oak leaf and scrollwork pattern. Quillon is markedly turned forward and down.

The brass scabbard does not show any dents. The brass throat is plain and is connected to the top mount that has a heavily decorated surface with a scallop and fern decoration on a stippled background and rope borders. The lower mount is of the same decoration while the drag is profusely adorned with scrolls, ferns and a rope border.  Both rings are present and also made of brass.

Engraved between the first and second mounts of the scabbard is “PRESENTED TO / 1ST LIEUT. WM. R. READ, / 2ND COMPANY / DUQUESNE GRAYS / BY HIS FRIENDS, MARCH 12, 1870.” Engraved below the second mount are the names of the 15 friends who presented the sword to Read.

William R. Read was born in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1835 and moved to Pittsburgh when he was a child. He was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant in Company M, 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry on September 15, 1861 and accompanied his regiment to Virginia. He was wounded in the regiments first engagement at Williamsburg on May 5, 1862 and again at Malvern Hill the following July 1st. These two wounds caused Read to resign his commission on January 17, 1863.

After the war Read was active in reorganizing the Duquesne Grays. He was eventually elected to Captain of Company A.

A lifelong bachelor, Read died from the effects of bronchitis brought on by a cold on May 7, 1885. He is buried in Homeland Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  [ad]

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