Reference Items
Identified Items
Inscribed sword - Lt. James W. Hepburn

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This is a non-regulation cavalry saber with an inscription on an escutcheon made of gold taken from the California foothills, and attached to the scabbard above the top mount in script letters: "Presented June 1865 to Lieut. James W. Hepburn. By the Citizens of Mokelumne Hill. and Vicinity. As a token of their appreciation of his Services while a Soldier in the Army of the POTOMAC."

The cast brass guard displays a winged eagle surrounded by oak leaves and a panoply of arms and banners. All mountings are cast brass and heavily decorated with eagle and leaf designs. The blade is 35½” and is marked W. Clauberg/Solingen at ricasso with Iron Proof on top and importer’s name "Schuyler Hartley & Graham, New York”. The blade is marked with etched motifs of a swept eagle over E Pluribus Unum banner on one side and "U.S.” with intricate scrolls on the other.

James Hepburn served as a Lieutenant with Company E of in the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, having originated as part of the Cal Battalion out of San Francisco during the winter of 1862/1863. Surviving the war, Hepburn returned to his small town of Mokelumne Hill in the gold country of California. A newspaper account details the ceremonies heralding his arrival and the presentation of the sword on July 5, 1865.  After a long speech from the Mayor, Hepburn made a concise and eloquent expression of gratitude:

 "Gentlemen: The army is a poor school in which to learn the arts of oratory, and I cannot find words to express my feelings of gratitude to my old friends of Mokelumne Hill for their noble gift which you have just presented me. Whatever may be the sum of the services I have rendered to our country in the war which has just closed, and whatever the peril incurred, thousands and hundreds of thousands of others have freely done the same. And in the future we may be sure of this: that our country will ask no service of any of her sons which myriads will not cheerfully volunteer to perform.

For a more complete biography on Lt. Hepburn and additional information on the Cal Hundred and Battalion, please visit the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry website hosted by Earl Robinson at

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-157

Inscribed Cane - General William G. Belknap

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35¼" cane from the staff of a Mexican standard captured by Lt. Colonel William Goldsmith Belknap 9 May 1846 at Resaca de la Palma, Texas during the Mexican War. Colonel Belknap rallied his troops to break the Mexican line and later had the "split mexican stick" sent to New York to have it mounted in gold. Belknap was brevetted Colonel for his actions and later Brigadier General at Monterey. For the full story of this historic personal battle honor see "Gen. Belknap's 'Old Split Mexican Stick" in the Articles Section.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-145

Colt Fluted Army - Inscribed Gordon A. Stewart

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This Colt 1860 Army revolver is a .44 cal percussion pistol with fluted cylinder, 7½” barrel, Serial #2171. It bears an original period script inscription, "Lt. Gordon A. Stewart from Co. D. 4th Reg’t, O.V.M. May 9th, 1861”. The revolver is in very good original condition and is 100% complete and correct.

Colt's factory letter states that the pistol was shipped to Colt’s New York office where it was likely inscribed. Lt. Stewart enlisted with the 4th Ohio Infantry on April 14, 1861, four days after the bombardment of Ft. Sumter. He was promoted through the ranks from Lieutenant of Company D to his eventual rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He served until June 21, 1864.

Stewart saw action in the battles of Winchester, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor and others. He was wounded by a shell fragment during his regiment's assault on Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg. Surviving this wound, he returned to service with the 4th and was later shot in the chest by a mini-ball at Robinson’s Tavern. Stewart survived the Civil War.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-142

Inscribed sword - Capt. Samuel P. Sayles

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This presentation grade sword bears the following inscription on the upper mount: "Presented to Capt. S. P. Sayles by the members of Co. D, 2nd N.H.V. Feby 28, 1863".

The sword has a German silver grip with brass mounts and blued scabbard. Both the mounts and drag have fine engraving, the guard and quillon are a high grade oak leaf design in very fine untouched condition. Blade is marked with Schuyler Hartley & Graham, New York in circular mark at ricasso and is of Solingen origin. It bears an engraving of a winged eagle over a banner. On the opposite side is "U.S.” with floral motifs. The blade is untouched and in very fine condition.

Sayles enlisted very early in the war with the 2nd New Hampshire, one of Fox’s fighting 300 regiments. Their engagements included Bull Run (early on the field, yet the last regiment to depart from Henry House Hill), Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Glendale, Malvern Hill (where Sayles was wounded), Kettle Run, 2nd Bull Run (against Stonewall Jackson at the railroad cut), Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg.

Although the 2nd continued its military service through Cold Harbor in 1864, Sayles was badly wounded at Gettysburg while fighting in the peach orchard along the Emmitsburg Road on the 2nd day. Left lying on the field after his regiment was overrun, he remained there through the night. While thus exposed, his boots were forcibly taken from him by a rebel skulker. During the night, he made his way across the battlefield, strewn with the carnage of the day's fighting, to the Trostle Barn where he sought shelter among wounded of both armies. Here, Captain Sayles was discovered by Union search parties on July 4th, two days later. The Captain's wound ended his Civil War service.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-139

Inscribed sword - Francis J. Herron

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Model 1850 Foot Officer’s sword presented to Francis J. Herron in 1861. The sword is in untouched and uncleaned condition. The original wire wrap is fully intact with rayskin grip showing some aging. The brass guard is uncleaned as are the pommel and mounts on the scabbard. The blade retains a dark patina and is etched with floral and patriotic motifs. On the guard is inscribed in period script "Presented to Capt. F. J. Herron by Co. I, 1st Iowa S. Vol. Dubuque, Sept 1861.” The browned metal scabbard has miscellaneous handling dings consistent with the untouched condition of the sword.

In 1861, Herron was serving as a Captain in the 1st Iowa where he fought at Wilson’s Creek. His unit suffered heavy losses and was mustered out, having completed their 90 days service. Herron was then commissioned Lt. Colonel in the 9th Iowa. His heroic actions at Pea Ridge a few months later won him the Congressional Medal of Honor, but in the process, he was wounded and captured. A few weeks after the battle, he was exchanged but a squabble arose over his sword. The capturing Confederate officer refused to return the sword, preferring to keep it as a souvenir of the Battle of Pea Ridge. Only the intervention of the Confederate Commanding General VanDorn brought the return of the sword to Herron, with VanDorn’s compliments.

Immediately after Pea Ridge, Herron was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. After a fantastic movement of his command over the Ozark Plateau, his forces helped assure a Union victory at the Battle of Prairie Grove and he won promotion to the rank of Major General, making him the youngest soldier to hold such rank for either side during the war. Herron subsequently commanded the XIII corps at Vicksburg. This is a very historic and interesting sword inscribed and presented early in the war to an officer who demonstrated his willingness to take the fight directly to the enemy.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-137

Slouch Hat - Captain Rufus W. Smith

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Cavalry Officer’s slouch hat identified to Capt. Rufus W. Smith, a member of the California Battalion who fought under the flag of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry during the Civil War. The 2nd Mass. was active in pursuit of John Mosby throughout the hills of Virginia and eventually saw much action in the Eastern Theatre. This slouch hat is in fine condition with minor mothing on crown. The felt is thick and supple with wide red Russian leather interior band, brittle but original to the hat. Black cotton cockade fastener to ostrich plume with woven acorns on hat chord. Cavalry insignia sewn on front with silver "2" for 2nd Mass. Identified with period ink on inside of band, to Capt. R.W.Smith, being Rufus W. Smith whose military records accompany the hat.

Captain Smith was mortally wounded leading his cavalry company on a charge at Cedar Creek, Va. in 1864 at the approximate age of 30. Originally from Maine, Smith was a member of the California Light Guard when in San Francisco, and resigned to join Captain Eigenbrodt's Company E of the California Battalion. After the death of J. Sewall Reed, founding officer and captain of the storied Cal 100, Captain Smith was appointed to succeed Reed. Captain Smith was mortally wounded during a saber charge against Confederate infantry at Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19, 1864. For more information on the Californians in the war, visit the excellent website hosted by Earl Robinson at

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-122

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