ORIGINAL, GETTYSBURG-RELATED, PRESENTATION MEDICAL OFFICER’S SWORD WITH MATCHING BRASS SCABBARD

$8,950.00

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Item Code: 344-1712

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This imported Federal Medical Officer’s edged weapon is a Civil War presentation specimen to Dr. George R. Richards of the 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry regiment. Adopted in 1840 and officially known as the Model 1840 Medical Staff Officer’s sword, this style medical sword remained the regulation weapon for all United States Army medical officers for the subsequent sixty-two years.

George Rawson Richards, born in Ireland, migrated with his family to the Ann Arbor, Michigan area in 1841. Richards was schooled at the Univ. of Michigan and graduated with a medical degree in 1861. George was commissioned in the 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry regiment in Oct 1862 as an assistant surgeon and served as part of George Custer’s 2nd Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Div during the Battle of Gettysburg, PA. Richards stayed in the cavalry until his discharge in March 1866. Richards was with the 7th MI from the skirmish in Hanover, PA in June 1863, thru Gettysburg, PA, Falling Waters, MD, Culpepper, Brandy Station, Richmond, The Wilderness, Yellow Tavern, Hawe’s shop, Cold Harbor, Trevillian Station, Winchester, Woodstock, Cedar Creek, Five Forks, Saylor’s Creek and at Appomattox, VA. Richards’s survived the war and returned to Michigan, set a medical practice, and raised a family. He died on Feb 6, 1895 and is buried in Ann Arbor, MI.

Dr. Richards’ blade is unmarked but is typical of those imported swords made in Solingen, Prussia. A long sword, it measures a total of 34½” from blade tip to pommel. The straight 28½” long, elliptical-shaped, evenly tapered blade is 5/8” wide at the hilt. Blade features a decorative floral etching design on both flats with scattered areas of dark oxidation. Obverse flat shows a script etching of “United States Medical Staff” while the reverse flat has a military motif and a spreadwinged eagle centered roughly in the flat. Engraved presentation is visible but on the thin side.

Ornate hilt is gilded with highly detailed cast brass and is in three parts… grip, pommel cap and guard. Both sides of the grip are molded and show a large oval medallion at the screw cap. Medallion face bears a raised American spreadwinged eagle holding arrows and a laurel branch in its talons. Opposite side medallion face is plain. All brass wears a dark bronze patina and has never been cleaned. Guard is loose on the blade tang. Brass cast guard, also loose, consists of two graceful quillons highly decorated with oak leaf motifs, in addition to two large langets (shield devices) centered between the quillons. Obverse shield bears two, raised ¼” letters “M S” (Medical Service) in old English script above thirteen, small 5-pointed stars all encircled with laurel leaves. This portion of the shield device has been slightly bent upward approximately ¼” from its original position. Reverse shield face is plain with a smooth surface and raised borders. Pommel cap is pineapple-shaped and threaded to the blade tang.

The undented, cast brass scabbard is highly decorative with symmetrical and floral highlights of gold gilt over the entire piece. Specimen has its upper band 2” from the throat and is decorated with geometric designs. Directly in front of that band is the inscription that reads “Presented to / Dr. G. R. Richards / By his friends / Commerce April 22, 1863”. Upper band, lower band and scabbard drag all decorated in high relief with standard oak leaf floral and geometric designs on the face. Upper band has two brass suspension rings, the lower band has one ring and each ring is a 1” diameter. All brass on the sword and scabbard wears a dark bronze patina overall. Never cleaned.

Sword and scabbard come with documentation completed by noted researcher N. D. Rossbacher and also from the HDS Civil War database in Duxbury, MA. This imported Civil War, identified officer’s presentation medical staff sword with its brass scabbard is a fine collectible and would highlight any medical display or add to edged weapon grouping.

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