GAR CARVED PRESENTATION CANE OF JOHN SWOVELAND OHIO CAVALRY

$1,295.00

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Item Code: 1052-53

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This is a carved wood cane, made in one piece with a handle, rectangular in cross section at the top, changing to round with spiral grooves and then simply round toward the bottom. The upper section on one side has raised lettering: “JOHN SWOVELAND” followed by an incised “G.A.R.” An adjoining side reads, in raised letters, “12th OHIO CAVALRY” followed by two raised hexagonal panels bordering a three-link chain in which are the small raised letters “G A R.” The two other sides of the rectangular section are incised, “Presented by W.H. Hershman, Oct. 1, ‘20” and, “Columbus Ind.” and “Dedicated to the election of McCray and Harding.”

Harding was the presidential candidate in 1920 and McCray was candidate for Indiana governor. Both were victorious. Regardless of his political acumen, however, Hershman made an error in placing Swoveland in the 12th rather than 4th Ohio. He had been born in Ohio, but was teaching school in Tipton, Indiana, just before the war and returned there a few years after the war to practice as an attorney. His wartime service, however, started with a brief stint in Fremont’s Bodyguard in August 1861 and then enlistment in the 4th Ohio Cavalry, enlisting in September and mustering in as a corporal in Company H 11/14/61. CWData has him captured and paroled at Lexington, KY, 10/18/62. A county history says he was wounded in Spring 1862 at Tullahoma, captured Oct. 28, 1862, and exchanged Jan. 1, 1863. They credit him with participation in nearly every battle of the Army of the Cumberland. The Union Army records fights at Huntsville, Bridgeport, Lexington, various expeditions, fighting in the Chickamauga campaign, Moulton, Jonesboro, and Wilson’s Raid. CWData lists about 80 points at which they suffered casualties of some sort and Fox says they lost 5 officers and 50 men killed or mortally wounded, all of which indicates very active field service. Swoveland himself recounted guarding Jefferson Davis after his capture in 1865.

Hershman’s identity is a bit of puzzle. A William H. Hershman, age 69, appears in the 1920 census for Tipton, as does Swoveland, making them likely neighbors. A second William H. Hershman, however, age 67, appears in the census of Columbus, Indiana, where he penned a letter in support of McCreary for Governor to the local paper, also in 1920. Whichever man presented the cane to Swoveland, however, seems not to have been a veteran himself, though the presentation may have been spurred by the G.A.R. National Encampment in Indianapolis just a week before, from Sept. 19 to 25, making it a tribute to a neighbor or perhaps fellow supporter of Harding and McCray, or all of the above. The cane is in very good condition, with the raised lettering showing only one chip at the bottom of the first “a” in “cavalry,” some minor rubs and a short, stable crack at the crook of the cane forming the handle. There is some interesting research yet to be done and whoever the donor turns out to be, he carved a nice looking cane for a veteran with some very good service.  [SR] [ph:L]

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