MODEL 1860 STAFF OFFICER’S SWORD PRESENTED TO CAPT. WILLIAM R. IRWIN, 8TH INDIANA INFANTRY AND US COMMISSARY DEPARTMENT

$3,000.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 870-177

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Manufactured: NY / NJ

Maker: Tomes, Son & Melvain / Stapleton & Co.

Year: c1863

Model: M1860 staff & Field

Condition: VG

This is a very interesting model 1860 Staff & Field officer’s sword. It has a variety of unusual and possibly unique features. The sword was made / sold by Tomes, Son and Melvain as etched on the blade.   The actual blade has the Keystone mark of the Emerson & Silver Foundry in Trenton, NJ. The top scabbard mount is engraved: “Stapleton & Co.” This must be an additional retailer or the Engraving company of the presentation.  Even the presentation on this one is puzzling and requires research as to why a Southern city would present a sword to a Union Captain? The presentation reads: “Presented to Capt. W. R. Irwin by the Citizens of Carrolton, LA.”

The sword is a high grade but regulation model of 1860 It has the regulation horn grip with very wide ferrules, an undecorated quillon, a plain cast counter guard with engraved decoration. All castings are very detailed, high relief with additional embellishment and heavy gilt. The 31 ¾ inch blade is diamond shaped terminating in a rounded (oval) but undefined ricasso. The blade is etched with the Tomes address, scroll work and a U.S. on the obverse and scroll work and crossed flags on the reverse. The Keystone mark is stamped on this side.

The scabbard is sheet brass with cast and chased mounts. The carry rings are twisted. The mounts are screwed in on both sides with exception of the throat which has one screw. The drag is cast in two pieces with a boot style and an Emerson & Silver style shoe type over the boot.

William Rodgers Irwin was born in Butler County, Ohio in September of 1835. A resident of Muncie, Indiana when the Civil War began he enlisted as Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant of the 8th Indiana Infantry on September 5, 1861.

The 8th was assigned to duty with the Army of Southwest Missouri. While serving there Irwin was elected as 2nd Lieutenant of Company A and received his commission on January 10, 1862. The 8th Indiana was heavily engaged at Pea Ridge on March 7, 1862 losing five killed and twenty-seven wounded. Irwin’s records show him present for that engagement.

In May of 1862 Irwin was promoted again, this time to 1st Lieutenant, but the following July he tendered his resignation due to ill health. In fact, on one of the surgeon’s certificates he was described as “a delicate man.” Irwin’s resignation was refused and he continued to serve.

In September he began duty as Acting Assistant Chief of Subsistence for the 14th Division of the 13th Corps and served in this capacity until April 28, 1863 when he was discharged for promotion in the Commissary Department as Captain & Assistant Commissary of Subsistence.

After his promotion Captain Irwin continued on with the 14th Division of the 13th Corps during the Vicksburg Campaign. After the fall of the city Captain Irwin again became ill and in late July of 1863, he was given a twenty-day furlough.

In October of 1864 Irwin was sent to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and by the following November he was Chief Commissary for the District of Central Missouri. Sometime in 1865 he was sent to Denver, Colorado, then to Fort Kearny, Nebraska before returning to Denver. He was finally mustered out on March 13, 1866.

William R. Irwin died in St. Louis, Missouri on April 9, 1909 and is buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.  [LD/AD]

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