9th INDIANA CAVALRY BATTLE DAMAGED CAVALRY SABER OF JOHN B. REASONER

$1,895.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 534-32

This relic condition U.S. M1860 light cavalry saber has a dead-real stamping on the face of the pommel reading: “J.B. REASONER / CO L 9 IND / CAVL.” It also has side branches of the guard that are splayed out near their join at the knucklebow, each being bent slightly into a small half-circle indicating something round struck them hard. It must have been a surprise for Mr. Reasoner, since it was likely hanging at his side if not in his hand when struck, but he had good reason to keep it or send it home as a lucky charm and souvenir of a close call.

Reasoner (full name: John Benjamin Reasoner) enlisted in the 9th Indiana Cavalry and mustered into Co. L as a private on 2/29/64, listing himself as a resident of Delaware County. He mustered out 8/28/65 at Indianapolis as a sergeant. The regiment had been organized starting in Fall 1864, and officially mustered in March 1, 1864. It left the state in May for Tennessee, where it was posted at Pulaski until late November, sending out reconnoitering parties and engaging in small actions against Confederate cavalry under Roddy, Duke, Wheeter and others. This included a hard little fight at Lynnville in early September 1864 in which Company L took part and began with a saber charge.

The regiment suffered serious losses later that month against Forrest at Sulphur Branch Trestle in Alabama. A composite force composed of men from different companies in regiment took part in defending a blockhouse, but were forced to surrender. Out of roughly 196 men, 21 were killed or mortally wounded, 11 died in Confederate prisons, and another 51 were killed in the explosion of the steamer Sultana as they journeyed north as exchanged prisoners of war.

They were very active in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign. In December they again fought Forrest, losing 26 in killed, wounded and captured in close fighting. Posted to New Orleans in February and March, where they served dismounted, they then were sent to Vicksburg and remounted to serve in the interior of the state, taking part in various expeditions and scouts until late May. Reasoner was with it when it mustered out in August, though another John Reasoner in the regiment, and also from Delaware County, likely a relative in some way, died in the Sultana disaster. Our John Reasoner returned home after the war and in May 1926 at age eighty died on the same family farm on which he had been born in September 1845.

The sword blade is heavily corroded though near full length. The maker’s marks are not visible, but it follows the standard lines of the Model 1860. The grip is long gone, both exterior and the wood core. The quillon is bent forward, which some maintain was done intentionally by soldiers. The branches of the guard, however, are clearly the result of strike by a ball or shell fragment.  The brass has an untouched aged patina. The small letters used to stamp Reasoner’s name and unit are typical of those we have seen used occasionally to mark a weapon, often when a soldier purchased it at the end of his service and was taking it home, though here the damage may have justified marking it as condemned, enabling him to send it home earlier. Reasoner likely valued it as relic for some time, but it clearly spent decades neglected, probably in the barn on the family farm where he returned after the war.  [sr] [ph:L]

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