SCARCE SPECIAL ORDER CAVALRY OFFICER’S SABER BY ROBY, FOR HIS OWN CAVALRY TROOP: LT. JAMES A. DAVIS, LATE 2nd MASS, WIA ANTIETAM

$6,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 870-156

Shipping: Determined by Method & Location of buyer

To Order:
Call 717-334-0347,
Fax 717-334-5016, or E-mail

We know of just three of these Roby cavalry officer’s sabers made for officers of the Spaulding Light Cavalry: one inscribed to E.S. Parkhurst, the troop’s 1st Lieutenant (Chelmsford Historical Society;) another to H.H. Emerson (Olpp collection;) and this one, inscribed to J.A. Davis, which is pictured and discussed by Thillmann in Cavalry and Artillery Sabers, p. 320. In all three cases the blade etching includes, “Co. f Spaulding Light Cavalry M.V.M.” on the obverse and the individual’s last name on the reverse.

The Christopher Roby Company of Chelmsford, Mass., is well-known to collectors of U.S. swords. Manufacturing scythes and other agricultural blades before the war, they transitioned easily into edge weapons, delivering some 48,000 on contract to the U.S. government, primarily cavalry sabers, as well as pre-contract “purchase-order” and privately purchased swords. Thillmann notes they were willing to produce cavalry officer’s sabers with custom features to suit the taste of individual purchasers, but the hilts fall into three main types, and a “special order” type that is slightly down-sized, with a 30 ½ inch or 31 7/8-inch blade, as this one has.

The sword is in excellent condition, with bright blade and vivid etching, good edge and point, and hilt with a mellow, aged patina matching the brass scabbard mounts on the bright steel scabbard. The brass hilt bears typical floral elements cast in the 1840-style pommel cap, upper knuckleguard, and lower portions of the branches where they join the counterguard. Thillmann characterizes the quillon embellishment as small, but it has detailed stippling that is evident on some of the floral decoration on the pommel. The 1860-style grip is sharkskin, bound with three strands of wire. The obverse etching has at bottom the blade address: “C. Roby & Co. / W. Chelmsford /Mass.” Above that floral vines lead to “Davis,” etched to be read edge up, followed by a vine entwined furled flag and U.S. shield, with a scrolling banner overhead reading “Union,” with more floral elements ending the panel. The reverse uses similar floral motifs top and bottom, which Thillmann categorizes as honey-suckle and wild roses on another example, and in the middle an eagle with raised wings, and U.S. shield on its chest, with stars overhead, underneath which “Co. f Spaulding Light Cavalry M.V.M.” is etched to read edge down. The steel scabbard is smooth metal with bright finish showing scattered thin and tiny white age spots, but only one or two pinpricks of brown. The mounts are screw fastened. The middle and upper ring mounts are medium sized 1850 style. The throat is narrow. The drag is a conventional 1860 boot style. The mounts have a mellow tone, matching the hilt.

Christopher Roby formed the Spaulding Light Cavalry in 1864, when there was worry about Confederate activities along the Canadian border, which resulted in raids on Lake Erie in September and against St. Albans, Vt, in October, but also about northern “Copperheads” who might act in coordination, or at least in sympathy, with the Confederacy or anti-war movement. Roby had served in the Governor’s Horse Guards of New Hampshire, so it was natural he thought of a mounted unit, with himself in command. He obtained authorization from the Governor of Massachusetts to raise a company of 100 men, recruited in Chelmsford and surrounding towns. The troop was officially organized 5 September 1864 as part of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia and held its first encampment in 1865, when it adopted the name “Spaulding Light Cavalry” (also “Spalding”) in honor of former militia cavalry commander in the area whose grandson presented them with a flag. As least 18 of the troop, listed themselves as “sword maker” and were obviously part of the Roby work force. The troop was officially designated as “Company F Unattached Cavalry” in the M.V.M. and was commanded by Roby until 1877, but the company lasted until 1907, attached to different brigade organizations of the state.

The “C. Roby & Co. / W. Chelmsford /Mass” blade address of this sword and the other two we know of, dates them no later than 1867, when Roby lost ownership of the company. This fits with James A. Davis’s service with the troop as 2nd Lieutenant from 1867 to 1871 (Waters, Hist. Chelmsford.) Davis (1841-1921) was from Dunstable and an experienced soldier. He enlisted 10/15/61 and was mustered into Co. A of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry, a very hard-fighting outfit, on 10/23/61. They were hard hit at Cedar Mountain (41 killed and 118 wounded according to CWData) and at Antietam, where they lost some 10 killed and another 60 wounded, including Davis, who was discharged for wounds 1/23/63. He re-enlisted in 1/2/65 in the Massachusetts First Battalion of Cavalry, which served along the Canadian border as Co. E of the 26th NY Cavalry, raised out of the same concerns that actuated Roby, and designated the “Frontier Cavalry.” Davis made sergeant in May and mustered out 6/30/65. He was obviously a good candidate as an officer for Roby’s troop.

This is a very good looking, unusual, and interesting sword that would fill out a collection of Roby cavalry sabers as a saber made by Roby and carried by an officer under his command. [sr] [ph:m/L]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THIS ITEM, AS WITH ALL OTHER ITEMS AVAILABLE ON OUR WEB SITE,

MAY BE PURCHASED THROUGH OUR LAYAWAY PROGRAM.

FOR OUR POLICIES AND TERMS,

CLICK ON ‘CONTACT US’ AT THE TOP OF ANY PAGE ON THE SITE,

THEN ON ‘LAYAWAY POLICY’.

THANK YOU!

Inquire »

Inquire About SCARCE SPECIAL ORDER CAVALRY OFFICER’S SABER BY ROBY, FOR HIS OWN CAVALRY TROOP: LT. JAMES A. DAVIS, LATE 2nd MASS, WIA ANTIETAM

should be empty

featured item

HISTORICAL FIREARMS STOLEN FROM THE NATIONAL CIVIL WAR MUSEUM IN HARRISBURG, PA

Please click on the photograph above to view a flyer containing information regarding a Model 1860 Henry Rifle and pair of cased presentation Colt Revolvers identified to Secretary of War Simon Cameron which were stolen from the museum on February… . Learn More »

Upcoming Events

02
Dec
Instagram