Civil war cavalry swords

The history of American civil war cavalry sword

The American cavalry during the Civil War had seen actions in many previous conflicts: the Revolutionary War against Britain in 1778, the War of 1812, the expansion to the West at the turn of century, and the war with Mexico in 1846. They were three distinct groups of cavalry then: the dragoons (to fight on foot and on horse), the light cavalry (for intelligence gathering), and the heavy cavalry (for shock effects).

Soon the distinction was blurred and the only true mounted regiment remaining at the time was the dragoons. Each horseman provided speed and agility for the army. George Washington later on suggested assigning infantrymen to protect dragoons who lacked longer firepower. But as the years wore on, the cavalry saw less and less role in the battlefield. After the War in 1812, the dragoon was disbanded and the federal government did not have a real cavalry.

Civil war cavalry swordsThe first American Civil War cavalry swords

In the history of Civil war swords, the first of cavalry swords used by American generals and officers were European imports. The cavalrymen used to have heavy sabers in tandem with flintlock pistols. The dragoons of the American Revolutionary War had an additional short-barreled carbine. Rules and guidelines on the presentation sword were not fixed, and varied widely from one troop to another. As there were swords granted by the federal government on exemplary soldiers, they were most often European-styled.

Civil war sword 1833 Dragoon SaberModel 1833 Dragoon Saber: The ancestor of Civil War cavalry sword

The year 1833 was the time when the need for a mounted regiment was pressed by generals and soon enacted by Congress. As the dragoon was reinstituted, the Model 1833 dragoon saber came into vogue. The Dragoon saber was the first authorized sword for the cavalrymen forged and distributed in 1833 and the succeeding years. The dragoons fought in the Florida War in 1835, a territorial contest between Native Americans and the federal government.

The model 1833 dragoon saber became soon a permanent fixture in battle. It has an iron hilt, dark leather-wrapped grip, a mark indicating the rank of the officer appearing on the curved tip of the quillon, and the blade is stamped with elaborate designs. However, its popularity was short-lived. Dissatisfaction arose. Several officers complained of its unreliability. The sword was discarded, but its demise was the start of weaponry reforms of the United States Army.

1840 heavy cavalry saberCivil War Cavalry Sword: The Model 1840 Heavy Cavalry Saber

Swords, including the cavalry sabers, were replaced in 1840s. Blades were examined, tested for their strength, and abandoned when results are disappointing. In 1838, the department on weaponry went to Europe to assess swords. Out from the field tests, the model 1840 Heavy Cavalry saber stood out. Orders were placed from the smelting center of Germany and Ames Manufacturing, a domestic sword-making house, started production in 1844.

Model 1840 Heavy Cavalry Saber became a standard sword for horsemen. Its design was based on 1822 French saber, with a leather wrap and wound over by brass wire. Its blade is 35 inches in length, with a flat leading edge that it is sometimes called, “Old Wristbreaker”. Its use had also survived through the Civil War, even when the Model 1860 Light Cavalry Saber was introduced.

Civil War Cavalry Sword: The Model 1860 Light Cavalry Saber

During the outbreak of Civil War, new regulations on presentation and battle ready officer swords were enforced. New versions of artillery, infantry, and cavalry swords were also produced. Model 1840 Cavalry saber was updated and Model 1860 Light Cavalry saber started production.

Model 1860 Light cavalry saber was first issued in 1862. It has 33-inch long, one-inch wide, less curved blade. It weighs about three pounds. It has a brass guard, a grip wrap with leather, and a metal scabbard made of steel. Unlike the Model 1840 Cavalry saber, the new sword is lighter, smaller, and manageable to wield.

Antique Civil War Sword Appraisal

After the Civil War, there are about half a million Model 1860 light cavalry sabers that were produced, about 30,000 Model 1840 heavy cavalry sabers were used, and thousands of Model 1833 cavalry dragoon sabers. Older swords, such as those used in Revolutionary War and Mexican War, are also traded in the antique market.

Collectors need to be very careful in trading, buying, and negotiating swords purportedly created during the Civil War period. Here are some tips for you:

• Watch out for false taints and grimes. They can range from a smudge of paint, a hint of rust, or a fading mark on the blade. There are unscrupulous dealers taking advantage of the booming antique market, so be very careful.

• Pictures of genuine antique Civil war swords and cavalry trooper can be found on the internet. Examine them carefully, and remember the important features of the sword. Such information will guide in your collection.

• Always opt to buy the best of Civil War swords. If you have a hundred dollar, do not waste it by buying replicas or fake antiques. Save it for future, more expensive purchases in reputable auction sites. In this way, you guarantee value for your money.

• Collectible Civil War swords are easy to fake. They are thousands of them, and their sheer number makes it easier for fakes to be mistaken with the real. So it is best to surround yourself with dealers you can trust with, collectors of the same field to teach you, and teachers and artifact experts of unimpeachable expertise.



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