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Reference Items
Edged Weapons
Georgia Arsenal D-Guard Bowie Knife

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This "bad boy” of Confederate D-Guard Bowie Knives was made at Milledgeville, GA by the Georgia State Arsenal.  It measures 22⅞” overall with the blade being 17⅝” long, 1¾” wide and ¼” thick.  It is sheathed in a leather scabbard, sewn and pewter riveted with a tin drag.

We know some history of these knives because in 2003 a similar knife was presented for evaluation on the Antique Roadshow by Mrs. Lorraine Nelson Lindfors of Wisconsin.  She said her grandfather, Captain Issac C. Nelson had brought the knife in her possession home from the Civil War as a souvenir.  Captain Nelson was with the 89th Ohio and marched through Georgia with Sherman’s Army.  The capture tag that Captain Nelson affixed to the scabbard reads: 

Confederate short sword Nov 24, 1864
Sherman’s march to the sea
This was never used but similar ones were found
on battle fields in the South.

Prior to the discovery of this knife, it was thought that this pattern of knife was made in Richmond, VA.  Captain Nelson’s knife was accompanied by a copy of his diary in which he describes how he came upon the knife.

We recommend "Confederate Bowie Knives” by Jack Melton, Josh Phillips and John Sexton for further reading.  Eight types of these knifes are identified in the book and attributed to the Georgia Arsenal.  Josh Phillips, from whose collection this knife came states that the depicted knife represents a ninth variant.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-310

Thomas Leech & Co. Clip-Point Bowie Knife

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Thomas Leech & Co., also known as the Memphis Novelty Works of Memphis, TN is best known for its cavalry sabers, but they also made some magnificent clip point bowie knives under the direct supervision of Charles Rigdon. When Memphis fell to the Union early in the war, Rigdon relocated to Columbus, Mississippi in March, 1862 and changed the firm’s name to Leech & Rigdon.  They became best known for their Colt Navy style revolvers.

This wonderful clip-point bowie knife measures 17½” overall with a blade length of 12½”.  The blade width at the ricasso is 1-9/16” and reaches a maximum width of 1-11/16” near the clip-point.  The knife utilizes a sword-like hilt with an S-shaped guard in front of a leather and double wire-wrapped grip capped with a sword pommel, which, while made from the same molds as for swords, were specifically cast for knives.

The above photographs are courtesy of Bill Beard.  In the grouping, each of the edged weapons shown is manufactured by Leech.  At top is a cavalry saber followed by a dug side knife, two more side knives and at the bottom, the clip-point bowie knife described here.

We highly recommend "Confederate Bowie Knives” by Jack Melton, Josh Phillips and John Sexton for further research.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-309

Presentation Sword - Captain Noah H. Ferry, 5th Michigan Cavalry

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This magnificent high grade presentation sword is inscribed on the scabbard between the throat and upper mount "Presented to Capt. Noah H. Ferry Co. F 5th Regt. Michigan Cavalry” and between the upper and lower mounts "as a token of esteem and respect for answering the call to arms in defence of the Union to put down a causeless and wicked rebellion honoring our great state with your display of a love for freedom and patriotism from your steadfast family and friends in Grand Haven --- 1862”.

The 35” blade is marked "Collins & Co. … Hartford, Conn. … 1862”.  The sword was assembled and retailed by Tomes, Son & Melvain of New York.  The engraving, hilt, mounts and jewelry work were done by Wm C. Stout, 566 Broadway (NY) whose markings appear on the flat of the ricasso.  The grip is silver and the hilt retains most of its gold wash.  The pommel cap has a large amethyst set in it.

Captain Ferry was soon promoted to Major of the 5th Michigan Cavalry.  Following his relief of then Colonel Freeman Norvell, Ferry was offered the colonelcy of the regiment but turned it down citing his youth and inexperience.

Major Ferry was killed on 3 July 1863 on the East Cavalry Field of Gettysburg.  The 5th Michigan had used their Spencer rifles to great advantage halting a charge of Chambliss’s Brigade, but they had depleted their ammunition.  The Confederates renewed their attack and before General Custer could charge with the 1st and 7th regiments, the red haired Major was shot through the head while rallying his battalion.

Colonel Russell A. Alger recollected in a letter to a friend in 1880. "Major Ferry, who was cheering his battalion to hold its ground, was instantly killed. His death cast a deep gloom upon the whole Brigade. He was a gallant soldier, an exemplary man and his loss was a great blow."  General Custer's official report noted the loss of "...the brave and chivalric Major N. H. Ferry."

Because of their hurried pursuit of the Confederate cavalry after the Battle of Gettysburg, Noah Ferry's comrades had only time to bury him beneath a tree at the field headquarters. Two weeks later his father and younger brother had the body disinterred and accompanied it home.

One of the tragedies of War is that is does not distinguish between the common man and the best and brightest of us.  Major Noah H. Ferry was of the latter.  One wonders what he would have made of the rest of his life had he survived Gettysburg.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-308

Thomas, Griswold & Co. Cavalry Officer's Saber

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On Aug 24, 1861 Henry Thomas and Arthur Breese Griswold along with a couple of associates opened a military outfitting firm at the corner of Canal and Royal Streets in New Orleans.  The business, known as Thomas, Griswold & Co., remained in operation only eight months before closing on April 24, 1862, a few weeks prior to the occupation of New Orleans by Federal forces.  During their brief period of operations, they manufactured swords and other militaria for Southern buyers in both the governmental and private sectors. 

Swords made by Thomas, Griswold & Co. have unique characteristics on their guards, blades and scabbards that make them readily identifiable.  This example is a Confederate officer’s cavalry saber in excellent attic condition, its 35" blade exhibiting an untouched patina.  The blade has a semi-stopped fuller indicative of Griswold’s products which terminates ⅞” from the original leather washer.  The blade remains tight against the grip and has never been removed.  At the ricasso is marked in a bold arc "THOMAS, GRISWOLD & Co” over straight "NEW ORLEANS” with the superscript "o” in Co being a weak strike.  This complete marking is the most desirable of the three styles of identification markings found on Griswold’s blades.  Some of their swords are stamped only with the company’s initials while others are entirely unmarked.  Experts speculate that the unmarked swords were those sold to other retailers such as Hayden & Whilden of Charleston, South Carolina who would, in turn, occasionally place their own markings on the blades.  The swords marked only with the T. G. & Co initials are thought to be those made for sale to the Confederate government.  And the swords marked with the firm’s full name were likely intended for retail purchase by the public.  Such a purchase would have been expected for an officer’s grade cavalry saber as seen here. 

One of the more unique features common to Griswold swords is their brass scabbards.  Accompanying this saber is its solid brass scabbard which bears Griswold’s typical crude lap seam on the bottom side.  The rings, mounts and drag are also brass with patina which matches the scabbard and guard.  The drag is the characteristic Griswold version seen on all their edged weapons.  The scabbard has no dents or notable blemishes. 

The grip retains its original leather, being nearly 100% intact with its original twisted brass wire wrap.  The guard and pommel cap are the usual Griswold style manufacture. The officers grade guard, quillon and knucklebow have cast floral patterns and the pommel is also decorated. The knucklebow branch has a noticeable brazed splice characteristic of Griswold’s two piece construction and the pommel cap has a seam at its top, also a trait of Griswold swords.  

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-298

Bowie Knife - Sergeant William T. Downey

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This scrimshaw bone handle bowie knife of Sgt. William T. Downey, Company B of the 86th New York Volunteer Infantry (known as the "Steuben Rangers” and "The Fighting Regiment of the Southern Tier”) was carried by him at the Battle of Gettysburg, when on 2 July 1863 the 86th was part of Sickles salient and fought in Rose’s Woods between the Wheatfield and Devils Den. The 86th NYV is one of Fox’s fighting 300 regiments losing one-third of its numbers at Gettysburg.

The knife is 13 inches overall with an 8 inch blade and brass guard. The hand carved bone handle features several detailed scrimshaw carvings including whaling ships at sea, nautical stars and what appears to be an Indian woman with feathers in her hair, stylized in the image of the Seminole chief Osceola. Carved into the handle is "Sergt W.T.D. Co. B 86 NYV”. The "Sergt” was added after Downey was promoted to Sergeant on 1 July 1863 (he had been acting in this capacity from 20 May 1863). The pommel area of the knife bears a lead inlay with the initial "W.T.D.” inscribed. The original leather scabbard is in very sound condition with tarred facing and natural leather verso.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-241

Brig. Genl. Cornelius G. Attwood, 25th Mass Inf.

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Brigadier General Cornelius G. Attwood, 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, "Heckman’s Star Brigade”.

Cornelius G. Attwood was born in Bangor, Maine, in 1836. In his youth he joined a local militia unit where he began his long and illustrious military career.

In October, 1861, he was appointed captain of Co. C, 25th Mass. Vol. Inf. The regiment, merged into the 18th Corps, fought in the famed "Heckman’s Star Brigade,” becoming one of the Union army’s top fighting units in terms of casualties and fighting prowess. Capt. Attwood was promoted to Major, October 29, 1862. The first battles were fought during Burnside’s Expedition into Virginia and North Carolina where he carried the first American flag ashore in the assault on Roanoke Island.

During General Attwood’s career he acquired two swords. The first, a foot officer’s sword is inscribed "Lieut. C.G. Attwood.” The second, a staff and field officer’s sword is inscribed on the top mount "Capt. C.G. Attwood, Boston,” and is elaborately inscribed down the steel scabbard with all of the general’s promotions and battles at which he participated. In addition the Attwood collection, obtained from a Maine descendant, contains his gold bullion general’s epaulets encased in an identified carrying tin, several CDV’s, a signed regimental history, a war-dated oil painting of the then Major Attwood painted by well-known artist Alexander Ransom, and a large escutcheon in handwritten calligraphy with photo, promotions, battles and references to the GAR and Mollus.

By war’s end the 25th Mass fought in more than twenty-five battles and skirmishes. Besides Roanoke Island they fought at New Berne, N.C., Goldsboro, Drewry’s Bluff, Cold Harbor, where Major Attwood was wounded, and Petersburg. Out of the three-hundred men the 25th Mass mustered for General Grant’s futile onslaught at Cold Harbor, the regiment sustained 24 killed, including 6 officers, 142 wounded, and 49 missing. In total, 8,000 men were killed in twenty minutes.

Withdrawn from the Petersburg trenches, the gallant 25th was mustered out October 20, 1864. Major Attwood was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel and soon thereafter, Brigadier General for "Gallant and meritorious service during the war.” Following the hostilities he was appointed Deputy Collector of the Port of Boston and later Secretary of the Board of Trade. In 1876 General Attwood was appointed Inspector General of Massachusetts where he was principally in charge of the State Militia. He held multiple GAR offices including Post Commander, National Quartermaster, and National Adjutant-General. He died January19, 1888 in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Member - Mike Shotwell
Item #: CIV-236

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