1861 DATED AND INSPECTED 1850 FIELD AND STAFF WITH BLADE PRESENTATION TO D.W. FLAGLER, U.S. CHIEF ORDNANCE OFFICER AT GETTYSBURG, FROM THE MOTHER OF WEST POINT CLASSMATE H.W. KINGSBURY

$9,500.00

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Item Code: 870-643

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An extremely rare US Army 1850 pattern staff and field sword made by Ames, one of only 67 dated and inspected by the U.S. government in 1861, presented to D.W. Flagler, an 1861 graduate of West Point earned two promotions and three brevets in the Civil War, and served as Chief of Ordnance, Army of the Potomac from November 1862 to August 1863, among other postings, ending up as brigadier general and U.S. Army Chief of Ordnance from 1891 to 1899.

The Ordnance Department contracted with Ames for just 150 of these swords in 1850, taking delivery in 1851 and 1852. It was not until June 1861 that another contract was awarded, for 1,800, which was reduced to just 229, which were delivered from August 1861 through April 1862. Of these, just 67, delivered from August 10 through December 31, 1861, are thought likely to have been inspected and dated 1861 (Thillmann’s number, 59, is mistaken. See Hickox. Also, an additional 13 swords were open purchases by the Ordnance Department, delivered in June and July 1861, though Thillmann thinks them unlikely to have been dated and inspected.)

The sword follows the regulation pattern. The metal scabbard is smooth metal with lots of original blue and a nice mellow patina to the mounts. The upper mount is stamped on the reverse “AMES MFG. CO. /CHICOPEE / MASS,” but the stamp has been applied crosswise instead of in line with the blade and the curvature of the mount has caused several letters to be lightly struck or not visible.

The hilt follows the standard pattern as well, with floral motifs cast and chased on the pommel and guard, which features a floating “U.S.” amid open-work floral scrolls. The brass hilt has mellow patina matching the scabbard mounts. The sharkskin grip wrap has a typical Ames side seam that has shrunk slightly an opened along the upper reverse, which is not uncommon with Ames swords. The wire binding is in place and intact. The blade pad is present under the guard.

The blade has no edge nicks and a good point, smooth metal with some gray spots, but generally bright. The etching is legible, but the Ames etched address on the lower obverse is light. The etching includes the usual floral scrolls and panoplies of arms, with an Eagle and E Pluribus Unum ribbon on the obverse. Which also includes a stamped “US / JH / 1861” on the ricasso. The reverse has floral scrolls, arms, and a very clear etched inscription reading:

“Presented to / D.W. Flagler U.S.A./ by / Mrs. J.C. Kingsbury”

Mrs. Jane Creed Kingsbury (1810-1892) was the widowed mother of Flagler’s fellow West Point Classmate and Ordnance officer, Henry Walter Kingsbury. (Her maiden name was Stebbins, but census records show she retained her first and middle names, referring to herself as Jane C. Kingsbury.) Both young men entered the USMA in 1856 and graduated in 1861. They had a lot in common and were likely good friends, not only evidenced by Mrs. Kingsbury’s gift to her son’s classmate, but both graduated at the top of their class, Kingsbury as number four and Flagler number five, and both went into the Ordnance Department, perhaps overlapping in service during the Manassas campaign and at Antietam. (Both also seemed to have been favored by Ambrose Burnside.)

Kingsbury may have been driven to succeed to redeem the family honor. His father, Julius J.B. Kingsbury (West Point 1823,) had a good Mexican War record in the 2nd US Infantry, including a brevet, and was major of the 6th US Infantry when he was dismissed in 1853 for absence from his command without authority. He died just as Henry went to West Point, but apparently left the family with some money from fortuitous land investments near Chicago. The younger Kingsbury took a field command with Battery D, 5th US Artillery, and a commission as colonel of the 11th Connecticut, which he was leading when mortally wounded at Antietam at Burnside’s Bridge. (The family was interesting: his sister was married to Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner.)

Daniel Webster Flagler (1835-1899) was born in Lockport, NY. Upon graduation from West Point he was appointed brevet 2nd lt. and then full 2nd lt. of Ordnance 24 June 1861, drilling volunteers in Washington, serving as acting ADC to Colonel Hunter (Second Division) in the Manassas Campaign, seeing action at Bull Run. He was ADC to McDowell from July to Aug 1861. He was promoted 1st lt. 3 August 1861, and posted as Asst. Ordnance Officer at Allegany Arsenal for a time.

In early 1862 he joined Burnside’s North Carolina expedition, as Chief of Ordnance, taking part in the capture of Roanoke, receiving a brevet of captain to date 14 March 1862 for gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of New Bern, and commanded two mortar batteries in the siege of Fort Macon, for which he received a brevet to major, to date 26 April 1862. In the Maryland Campaign he was Asst. Ordnance Officer and ADC, seeing action at South Mountain and Antietam, and subsequently was Chief of Ordnance, Army of the Potomac, 14 Nov. 1862 to 10 Oct. 1863, seeing action at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, being promoted to captain 3 March 1863 and receiving a second brevet to major to date 26 April 1863.

In 1864 he was at the West Point Foundry serving with Robert Parrott as Inspector of Cannon and Projectiles.  He received a third brevet, to lt. colonel to date 13 March 1865 for distinguished service in the field and faithful service in the Ordnance Department during the war. He took part in rebuilding the Augusta Arsenal after the wear and in 1872 was assigned as commanding officer Rock Island Arsenal. He received a regular promotion to major 23 June 1874; to lt. col. 23 Aug 1881; colonel 15 Sept 1890; and, brigadier general 23 January 1891. He died 29 March 1899.

Given that Kingsbury, like Flagler, was in the Ordnance Department at Washington immediately after graduation, he was in a very good position to obtain the sword for his mother to present to his comrade early on and Flagler’s staff position would have entitled him to it, though whether this might indicate the 13 open purchase swords delivered in June and July were in fact dated and inspected is another question. Be that as it may, this is a extremely scarce sword with a wonderful presentation, ownership by an officer with an impressive record, and an excellent history that can be even further developed.

We show Flagler’s 1861 Class photo (from print held by Gettysburg College) and a group of officers at Falmouth in April 1863, in which Flagler is identified by the Library of Congress as the officer in the bottom row at left in civilian clothes, perhaps just back from leave.  [sr]

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