Reference Items
Edged Weapons
Inscribed Sword – Captain R. S. Seabury AAG

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Vetted Civil War General & Staff Officers swords, often referred to incorrectly as Model 1860 Staff & Field officer swords, are exceedingly rare. Those most commonly seen are of post war issue, and are difficult to distinguish from Civil War dated swords. Most of the swords documented to Civil War use were of Ames manufacture. During the Civil War this diminutive model sword was not popular with officers.

This beautiful General Staff & Officer sword bears an inscription on the clamshell guard which reads: "Presented to Captain R.S. Seabury AAG by Lieut. P.C. Rogers ADC”. The sword measures 36 inches overall, the diamond shaped blade 29½ inches with a maximum width of 11/16 inches. The blade is marked on the ricasso with a circle inside of which is "F B D” arched left, above and right respectively of a plumed Greek helmet crossed by a sword, indicating that this sword was likely an import from the French firm of F. Delacour & Bakes. The fine leather grip is wrapped with a single twisted wire strand. The 32 inch scabbard has elaborate mounts which appear to have been made from the same mold designed by master sculptor John Q. Word of New York and used by the Ames Sword Co. to fabricate a documented sword presented to General U.S. Grant in 1863. The Seabury sword could have been one of the 25 imported by Schuyler, Hartley & Graham 20 August 1862.

Captain Robert S. Seabury AAG of the 71st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was on the staff of Brigadier General Joshua T. "Paddy” Owen, first with the Philadelphia Brigade and then 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Army Corp (1864). He received numerous commendations in the Official Records, but notably December 18, 1862 from Colonel Owens for his role on Marye’s Heights at the Battle of Fredericksburg and on March 25, 1864 from Major General Gouverneur K. Warren for his heroic actions during the demonstration on the Rapidan. Captain Seabury died May 8, 1864 from wounds received two days earlier at the Battle of the Wilderness.

The sword’s presenter, 1st Lt. Phillip Clayton Rogers, served with the 55th New York Volunteer Infantry and then with the 39th NYV ("The Garibaldi Guards”). On February 29, 1864 he was promoted Aide de Camp on the staff of General Owen; prior to this date he had been acting in this capacity. A report penned by General Owen on February 9, 1864 mentions both Seabury and Rogers as serving on his staff and having rendered "gallant” and "valuable” assistance. The above photograph of Lt. Rogers while in the 39th NYV (provided by Michael Hammerson) shows him holding a similar sword.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-205

Inscribed Sword - General Michael Corcoran

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Known as the "Prince of Wales sword”, this is a Model 1850 Presentation grade Staff & Field Officer’s sword by Ames Manufacturing Co., Chicopee, Mass. The sword bears a Phrygian pommel and a white sharkskin grip. The gilted guard retains substantial gilt in protected areas. Highly unusual is the removal of the regulation "U.S.” in the guard and the placement with an Irish harp. The knucklebow and outer branch of the basket have additional engraving. On the obverse mount is inscribed:

"Presented To Col. M. Corcoran of the 69th Regt N.Y.S.M.
In commemoration of the 11th of October 1860”

Known as "The Hero of Bull Run,” Brigadier General Corcoran is one of the most storied Irish/American patriots to emerge during the American civil war. Born in Ireland in 1821, he immigrated to New York in 1849, but he retained his feelings against the British crown. Just prior to the Civil War, Corcoran rose to command of the 69th New York State Militia, a famed Irish regiment.

The following year, Colonel Corcoran made his national reputation as the champion of all Irish in America. On October 11, 1860 (see sword inscription), President Buchanan invited the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII of England) to visit New York, where a ball and a militia parade were given in his honor. Corcoran refused to order the 69th Regiment to march in a parade in honor if the future king. His insubordination was met with arrest by state authorities and a court martial. The case was pending when Sumter was fired upon, and expediency led to a convenient forgetting of the charges. The 69th, with their colonel at its head, was one of the first regiments to march to the defense of the Union.

Upon departure for the seat of war, Col. Corcoran was presented by his supporters, in honor of his disregard of the Prince of Wales, with a green silk flag whose center was the ancient flag of Erin, and the above pictured 1850 Model Staff and Field Officer’s sword.

The regiment was first stationed on Arlington Heights at Fort Corcoran, then marched to Bull Run where Corcoran was wounded in the heavy fighting and taken prisoner and confined to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. Exchanged in August, 1862, Corcoran was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers and was received in a massive celebration by 650,000 onlookers, until that time the largest crowd ever amassed in the United States. Here, General Corcoran received a jeweled presentation sword. General Corcoran then organized the Corcoran Legion. The legion was engaged in various battles in Virginia, then in October, 1863, was transferred to the Army of the Potomac. On Dec. 22, 1863, while riding in the company of General Thomas Meagher, Corcoran fell from his horse and was crushed to death. It is believed he suffered a heart attack due to the privations endured in Libby Prison.

General Meagher, Corcoran’s friend and fellow member of the Fenian Brotherhood, delivered the eulogy at the lecture hall of the Cooper Institute. This event was attended by officers of the 69th N.Y.N.G., officers of the Irish Legion and Irish Brigade, and members of the civic and military communities. Meagher, in a moving oration, spoke of General Corcoran’s brave resistance to the Prince of Wales...”Never with so dazzling an effect, did an impeached soldier reverse the tide that had set in against him. That when he had heard the reply that the republic was in danger, he had gone forth himself amongst the first of its defenders, consecrating his sword and life to its defense.”

The sword was obtained from family descendants in 1992.

Member - Mike Shotwell
Item #: CIV-201

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

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-157

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