EMERSON AND SILVER 1865 DATED CAVALRY SABER WITH COMPANY LETTER AND RACK NUMBERS

$875.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 766-1546

This is an 1865 dated cavalry saber with rack numbers on the pommel indicating it may have been issued to a regular army cavalry regiment during the Indian Wars. These were seldom, if ever, carried in the field during that period, but remained items of issue throughout and with minor changes the M1860 remained in service until 1914. (For details on numbers and issue see Farrington, Arming and Equipping the U.S. Cavalry 1865-1902.)

The saber is in very good condition, with the grip showing full leather wrap and wire, but with some wear on the raised ridges of the grip closest to the pommel where the underlying wood has been exposed from rubbing to the leather. The brass shows no bends or breaks and has traces of gilt or an applied gold finish. The blade pad on the underside of the guard is present and shows use, pressed by the mouth of the scabbard. The markings are clear. The reverse ricasso is stamped “US / J.F./ 1865” with the last digit light but legible. The reverse is stamped “Emerson / &/ Silver/ Trenton / N.J.” Like the hilt, the blade and scabbard are very good. The blade is smooth metal, with good tip and no nicks to the edge. The color is a light silver with small thin gray spotting. The scabbard is a bluish-brown with bands, rings, throat and drag in place. The surface is generally smooth, with just minor rubs and some thin brown oxidation here and there.

Emerson and Silver supplied 27,060 light cavalry sabers on contract to the U.S. government during the war. This would have come from their October 1864 contract for 5,000 or their March 1865 contract for 3,960. With the end of the conflict and reduction of the volunteer cavalry units, the army returned to its 1861 strength of six regiments, soon augmented to ten. The face of the pommel shows a company letter, “F” and several numbers, indicating it was issued, which fits with the wear evident on the grip. It is possible the saber was a late war issue to one of the state volunteer regiments, some of which remained in service for another year in the west or on occupation duty in the south. It is also very possible the marking is from a postwar issue to one of the ten U.S. cavalry regiments.

Interpreting rack numbers can be tricky and several of the numbers below the company letter on the pommel are over-stamped, indicating it was issued several times. Immediately below the “F” is the number “14,” either the soldier’s individual number or the regimental number: the 14th U.S. cavalry was organized in 1901, which is late, but acceptable given how long these sabers remained on the books. This is entangled with a “7,” which could also be a regimental number (which would be very nice indeed,) and below that a third number, most likely the individual’s number, which seems to have started out as “96” and then been overstamped with other numbers as the sword was turned in and re-issued. However, understood, the numbers clearly indicate the sword saw continued military service.

This is a nice example of the regulation Civil War Union cavalry saber. The rack numbers add a bit of fascination and show it was at some point actually issued to a trooper, whose handling of it shows slightly on the grip. [sr] [ph:L]

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