Reference Items
Edged Weapons
Inscribed Sword - Lt. Col. George H. Caldwell AAG

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This is a Horstmann manufactured 1850 staff & field officer’s sword which bears the names of both the recipient, and its famous presenter.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, George Caldwell abandoned his medical practice and followed his brother, Major General John C. Caldwell, into military service. When he received a staff appointment with the 11th Maine Volunteers, his brother, the General, presented this sword to him. Inscribed on the on the top mount in beautiful engraved text is: "Presented to Capt. George H. Caldwell from Brig. Gen. John C. Caldwell August 2, 1862.”

During his career, Captain Caldwell served on his brother’s staff, in the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Hancock’s II Corps, in the Army of the Potomac. This division was considered the greatest fighting division of the Union Army.

By war’s end, George had served with distinction on the staffs of three major military figures: Maj. Gen. Caldwell at Antietam (the Sunken Road), Fredericksburg (assault against the stone wall) and Chancellorsville; Colonel Edward Cross (64th N.Y. Vols.) at Gettysburg; and General Nelson Miles (64th N.Y. Vols.) at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg.

Captain Caldwell was wounded five times in battle, including Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg where his ankle was shattered by the fierce canon fire preceding Pickett’s charge on July 3rd.

Four days after the battle of Antietam, photographer Alexander Gardner took a group photo of General Caldwell and staff, showing Captain George H. Caldwell, seated, holding his sword in his left hand, with General Caldwell behind him. To the right is famed Colonel Edward E. Cross of the 5th New Hampshire. A few weeks later, Caldwell's Irish Brigade found themselves assaulting the stone wall at Marye's Heights, during the battle of Fredericksburg. During the horrific charge Caldwell’s brigade lost a staggering 952 men.

On Oct. 9, 1867, Captain Caldwell was promoted to Major, and on the same day to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel of Volunteers for "Gallant and meritorious services at the Battles of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg…and the Campaigns of the Wilderness and before Petersburg.”

The evening of April 14, 1865, Captain George H. Caldwell was in attendance at Ford’s Theatre when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. After the national funeral services, the sword's presenter, General John C. Caldwell, was among the nine major generals named as the honor guard to accompany Lincoln's casket on its procession to the cemetery at Springfield, Illinois. In the Caldwell grouping is a piece of one of the American flags that were displayed in Lincoln’s funeral car while it was in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Member - Mike Shotwell
Item #: CIV-192

Presentation Sword - Captain James O. Paxson

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An 1850 presentation grade staff & field officer’s sword inscribed to Capt. James O. Paxson of the 48th New York Infantry, a regiment known as the "Die-No-Mores.” He was promoted captain in June, 1862 and presented this sword which is inscribed on the top mount: "Presented to Capt. J.O. Paxson by the Members of Co. D, 48th Regt. N.Y.S.V.” The blade bears the etched inscriptions: "Presented to Capt. Jas O. Pax[t]son, Co. D 48th NYSV by the members of his company.”

During Captain Paxson‘s military career, "No officer in the regiment stood higher in reputation for bravery and soldierly qualities.” After three years of service, the regiment suffered 236 men killed in action or died from wounds. The loss of 18 officers, 16 at the Battle of Fort Wagner, was unsurpassed by any Union regiment.

After fighting at Port Royal Harbor, and the capture of Fort Pulaski, Paxson took part on the assault of Battery Wagner on July 18, 1863. Captain Paxson was mortally wounded by canon fire while leading his men up the south parapet of the fort. Clinging to life, he was transported to Beaufort, S.C. where he died ten days later.

Individual histories have noted:

"He was among the first to fall in crossing the ditch of the fort. Both legs were shattered at the knees….Amputation of the limb was advised, but there seemed too little vitality to warrant it. With others he was taken to Beaufort lying on a mattress on the floor of the steam-boat Mary Benton...”

"In his frequent delirium he would cry out "Come on, die-no-mores. Come on boys,” the very words I am informed he used as the regiment took the double quick and plunged into the seething abyss of death and destruction
.”

"Captain Paxson fell like a hero at the head of his noble company of young men, most of whom poured out their blood by his side, and laid them down to their rest of honor."

Member - Mike Shotwell
Item #: CIV-191

Inscribed Saber - Charles Roberts

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Charles Roberts, originally from New Brunswick, enlisted with the Cal Battalion in 1863 at San Francisco. His company became Co. F of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry. Charles kept a journal for much of the early period of his military service, providing a valuable chronicle of the actions of the Californians who went east to fight.

Among Roberts’ effects are this inscribed M1860 light cavalry saber with A.G.M. inspector's marks and 1865 date at its ricasso. The scabbard has been nickel plated and is inscribed at the throat "Chas Roberts, Cal Cav Bat, 1862 - 1865", probably accomplished after the war. The saber is in original and untouched condition. The blade shows little wear and has not been sharpened. The leather grip is intact and excellent with its original wire wrap.

Joining the saber are several promotion documents including the pictured certificate attesting to his promotion to Sergeant of Company F on March 1, 1864. It bears the signatures of the Regimental Adjutant, C. Mason Kinne, also a Californian. The commanding officer is Lt. Col. Caspar Crowninshield who led the regiment at the time, Colonel Charles R. Lowell having been given command of the brigade.

Also shown is Roberts’ reunion silk ribbon, the only one we have seen of its kind, and apparently given as a souvenir during the 1886 reunion in San Francisco.

On October 19, 1864 Roberts was wounded in the thigh during a saber charge against Confederate infantry at Cedar Creek, Virginia. Recovering from his wound, he rejoined the regiment in early 1865 and remained with them to witness the final struggle leading to Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. Charles returned to California and lived in Oakland. He married Catherine Degau in San Francisco on 14 July 1866, almost a year after his discharge.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-177

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 http://2mass.omnica.com/.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-157

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

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