SUPERB SILVER AMES 1832/34 OFFICER’S SWORD OF HENRY CONSTANTINE WAYNE, WEST POINT 1838, REGULAR ARMY MEXICAN WAR, DEVELOPER OF THE U.S. CAMEL CORPS, GEORGIA INSPECTOR & ADJUTANT GENERAL, CSA BRIGADIER

$20,000.00

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Item Code: 870-311

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This beautiful silvered Ames 1832/34 pattern officer’s sword is illustrated and discussed on pages 71-72 of Thillmann’s U.S. Army Swords. The scabbard is silvered en suite with the hilt and profusely engraved on the obverse. The blade is specially etched to include the Georgia state seal, U.S. eagle, portraits of Columbia and Tecumseh, and a male portrait bust with classical helmet, very like a dragoon officer. It has a great provenance, having once been owned by noted Georgia Civil War collector Cecil Anderson and identified as belonging to Henry Constantine Wayne. Wayne was a Georgia West Point graduate, regular army officer, Master of the Sword at West Point, author of a sword manual, and developer of the U.S. Camel Corps in the 1850s, who resigned from the Army in December 1860 in favor of serving his native state of Georgia. He was also, briefly, a general in the Confederate army.

The U.S. 1832/34 pattern officer’s sword originated in 1831. Governing regulations were published in 1832, even before the exact patterns had been selected. Production began in 1834, thus giving the sword a mixed date among collectors. The pattern was regulation for officers of infantry, artillery, ordnance, general staff, and general officers. It uses a straight double-edged blade with gilt brass pommel, knucklebow, crossguard and boat-shell counterguard, and a sheet silver grip rolled with impressed false wire binding. Distinctions in grade were made by the scabbard type. The project nearly bankrupted the Ames company, who were faced not only with competition from other makers and from counterfeiters, but were obliged to have their swords proofed and then wait for payment from individual officers as orders came in.

This is a remarkable and lovely sword, to use Thillmann’s words, that “typifies the exceptional quality and special treatment,” of which Ames was capable. Kevin Hoffman simply called it “super fine.” The entire hilt and metal scabbard are silvered, a favorite color for Georgia militia. The scabbard is the regulation pattern for staff officers, though it could be optional for general officers, with one middle ring and a two-ring upper mount with no frog stud. The scabbard is silvered by the application of thin silver foil and is beautifully and profusely engraved. The silvering and engraving are non-regulation, causing Thillmann to call it a militia sword, though as he himself points out, “any sword of honor could be worn by a U.S. officer when off duty,” and this certainly qualifies as a “sword of honor.”

The scabbard engraving is intricate and exquisite. Between throat and upper ring band are seven foliate and feathered spirals springing from a leafy stem. Between the two ring mounts, two larger, similar, interlocking spirals burst out at the sides with curved leafy branches (curling in different directions at each side, following the sweep of he spirals) and extend into two large, S-curved wing-like leaves, or leaflike wings, reminiscent of the Roman-style winged thunderbolts in some Ames etching, such as a sword presented to Franklin Pierce in 1849.  The lower portion of the scabbard is engraved with a simpler, but equally well done, long, flowing branch with leaves and acorns extending down to the drag.

The blade etching did not survive in as fine condition, but is nevertheless impressive and of fine quality. At bottom, the early Ames address, “N.P. Ames / Cutler / Springfield” is surrounded by starburst of sun’s rays and lightning bolts, such as appear around some Ames eagles (see Hamilton, p. 54.) Above that appears the “pillars and arches” state seal of Georgia with “Constitution” etched on the large overhead arch and “Wisdom,” “Justice,” and “Moderation” on banners draped around the three columns underneath. A soldier standing guard is visible between columns at right and the etcher has placed a building and some cursory vegetation between the columns at left. Other motifs include a full standing Indian figure, likely a version of Tecumseh, armed with his bow and a spear instead of his usual raised tomahawk. This is balanced by a full-length portrait of Columbia, holding her pole with liberty cap and a scarf or flag billowing overhead, a motif appearing on the 1842 Ames sword presented to James Porter and noted by Hamilton as reserved for special commissions (Ames Sword Company p.58.) Below her is a male portrait bust wearing a classical crested helmet, similar to a near contemporary light dragoon, which also appears on the Porter sword. Just as Columbia and Tecumseh seem to balance one another, a U.S. eagle balances the state seal. The eagle clutches arrows and olive branch, has an arc of thirteen stars overhead, as well as banderole that is hard to read, but was certainly drypoint etched “E Pluribus Unum” or “Liberty,” both of which show up in Ames etching, and are derived from U.S. coinage between 1807 and 1836.

The presence of the state seal of Georgia might suggest Wayne acquired the sword during his Confederate service, or more precisely, his state service to Georgia, in 1861 to 1865. The presence of Columbia and the U.S. eagle, however, along with some of the early Ames motifs, suggest an earlier date, perhaps 1846, when he officially became a staff officer as Captain and Assistant Quartermaster, for which the sword would be appropriate, if only when off duty because of its special workmanship.

The state and federal motifs on the blade in some ways prefigure his conflicted loyalties in the Civil War. Henry Constantine Wayne (1815-1883) came from a wealthy Georgia family, graduated West Point in 1838, and was posted as 2nd Lt. to the 4th and then the 1st U.S. Artillery. He served along the U.S.-Canadian border in 1838-1840 when tensions ran high during the 1837-38 rebellions in Canada, and was stationed in Maine 1840-41 during U.S.-Canadian border disputes there. From 1841-46 he was assigned to West Point, with a promotion in the 1st Artillery to 1st Lt. in 1842. At the USMA he was assistant instructor of artillery and cavalry, and later master of the sword exercise and infantry tactics from 1841-43. He was quartermaster there 1843-1846 and was promoted to Captain and Assistant Quartermaster U.S. Army 11 May 1846, serving in the Mexican War and receiving a brevet to major 8/20/47 for, “gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco.” From 1848-1855 he was with the clothing bureau at Washington and from 1855 to 1858 performed an usual assignment: going to Africa and Asia to acquire camels for the army and testing them in the American southwest. (The tests showed their superiority as pack animals, if not fighting mounts, and the project came to naught with the onset of the war.) From 1858 to 1860 Constantine was back in the Q.M. General’s office in Washington until his resignation on 31 December 1860 as Georgia moved to secede.

His experience and early resignation gained him appointment as Georgia’s Adjutant and Inspector General, but while willing to serve the state he seems to have had reservations about the Confederacy. He received a commission as Brigadier General C.S.A., and resigned it soon after, resuming quartermaster duties for Georgia, becoming colonel and aide-de-camp to Governor Brown in 1863. He took the field briefly in 1864, commanding Confederate forces at Ball’s Ferry in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Sherman’s left wing crossing the Oconee River during the March to the Sea. His hardest fight in some respects was preserving family property. His father was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice who remained loyal to the Union, making the family property liable to confiscation by Confederate authorities. The younger Wayne managed to preserve most of the family assets and inherited the estate in 1867, but was swindled by a business partner in the 1870s and struggled financially to the end of his life.

The sword is accompanied by its original 1977 bill of sale to Cecil Anderson which records its purchase from the Bird family by Dick Kennedy, a well-known antique arms and militaria dealer in Atlanta. Some genealogical work might establish the relationship of the Bird family to Wayne, either through his children or second wife. This is a beautiful sword that merits a prominent place in any collection and would be the centerpiece of any display.

As part of this listing we show four images from online sources,: Wayne with his two sons before setting off to Asia and Africa for the army; a later life portrait, altered in some sources with the addition of a CS brigadier general’s uniform; a younger view of Wayne; a photo taken on a southwest American street showing what may be one of Wayne’s Camel Corps recruits, or veterans.  [sr]

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