family heirloom confederate calvary sabre


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#22
and another:

Charles Gurkin

Residence was not listed;
Enlisted on 10/27/1861 at Washington County as a Private.

On 10/26/1861 he mustered into "K" Co. NC 3rd Cavalry
He was transferred out (date not stated)

He was listed as:
* POW 5/27/1863 Plymouth, NC
* Exchanged 7/16/1863 (place not stated)
* On rolls 10/15/1864 (place not stated) (Estimated date)

He also had service in:
"H" Co. NC 4th Cavalry (May have served previously in 17th Reg NC (1st Organization), Co. H)
 
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#24
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#25
I actually don't, that is amazing. I had no idea that could even be found. That was just the information handed down to my mother in law.
Your family information was amazingly accurate, as you can see from Package4's post. You can pull up his service records easily on www.fold3.com. I think you can have a free trial period of a week or ten days, and Henry Gurkin is easy as pie to find. He was the only soldier of that name in the war apparently. Some county libraries have fold3 access for anyone with a library card. You can look up anyone in any US war from the mid-20th Century or earlier, so your Rev War ancestors, etc can usually be found as well.
 

WJC

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#26
Welcome! Those are great family heirlooms! Thanks for sharing them with us!
Your concerns are more common than you might think. Many of us have inherited family heirlooms which we want to preserve, but we don't know how. You are wise not to do anything until you determine what is best. I would suggest seeking advice from a museum that regularly preserves historical items.
 

Glen_C

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#30
Here is the write up my mother law promised.

"His name was Henry A. Gurkin. He was my paternal great-grandfather. He was born in 1841 and died in 1885. The basics are that he mustered in as a first Sergeant which is a non-commissioned officer and thus he was issued the sword. I think this was in 1861, so early in the war. But like most Guirkins I have ever known, his health was bad and they discharged him after a few months. Then he re-enlisted as a private a couple of years later when the South wasn’t so picky about the physical condition of their soldiers. They needed bodies for canon fodder. One Gurkin I read about was eventually released as part of a prisoner exchange but I don’t remember if ol’ Henry was the one. The Gurkin resided in the northeastern corner of North Carolina and I think they may well have been blockade runners. His son, my grandfather, was born in 1869 so he was a teenager when his father died.

The sword was a pretty poorly manufactured instrument, as were so many of the weapons available to southern soldiers"
A few things become apparent in seeing the sword images. The sword is of the first two decades of the century. It would never have been issued to an NCO and the sword was not of poor manufacture. Rather, it is the remains of a fancy sword that would have been the delight of a fairly well to do officer, decades before the ACW.

Unless there is an ancestor of the family that was an officer of the 1812 War period, or shortly after, it is a sword that came into the family at some point that needs a better provenance explained if it is to be associated with the ACW at all.

The remaining fitting on the scabbard is on backwards.

Old swords are often paired up with family histories with what may seem to be the best explanations but the note quoted doesn't fit the sword, nor make sense being listed as a cavalry sword (not that someone may not have been carried one on horseback).
Cheers
GC
 
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#31
The portrait of your husband's ancestor is very nice and deserves as much tender loving care as the saber. Try to make sure it is hung in a place away from big swings of temperature and humidity, dining room candles, airborne kitchen oils and greases, etc. etc. It is showing a bit of craquelure, but I can't see any cracks or wavy paint running through the face. The cracking is not at all unusual in an old painting. Problems arise when the paint curls fully away from the canvas and the chips begin to fall off. I see some chip edges that are curling, but no missing pieces. Those raised edges are incredibly brittle and vulnerable to loss! Paintings like this can be conserved and stabilized--often at much less cost than you would imagine. I have seen curled chips gently warmed and flattened and re-adhered to canvases. It is something to consider for the future, but it is work for a professional conservator.

I really like the saber, too, and I am knocked out by the ivory grip! I know almost nothing about edged weapons, but I think your husband has a fine one.
 
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#32
A few things become apparent in seeing the sword images. The sword is of the first two decades of the century. It would never have been issued to an NCO and the sword was not of poor manufacture. Rather, it is the remains of a fancy sword that would have been the delight of a fairly well to do officer, decades before the ACW.

Unless there is an ancestor of the family that was an officer of the 1812 War period, or shortly after, it is a sword that came into the family at some point that needs a better provenance explained if it is to be associated with the ACW at all.

The remaining fitting on the scabbard is on backwards.

Old swords are often paired up with family histories with what may seem to be the best explanations but the note quoted doesn't fit the sword, nor make sense being listed as a cavalry sword (not that someone may not have been carried one on horseback).
Cheers
GC
Wow thanks for the information I will take this back to my mil and see if there is other family history she might know of for the provenance of the sword.
 
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#33
The portrait of your husband's ancestor is very nice and deserves as much tender loving care as the saber. Try to make sure it is hung in a place away from big swings of temperature and humidity, dining room candles, airborne kitchen oils and greases, etc. etc. It is showing a bit of craquelure, but I can't see any cracks or wavy paint running through the face. The cracking is not at all unusual in an old painting. Problems arise when the paint curls fully away from the canvas and the chips begin to fall off. I see some chip edges that are curling, but no missing pieces. Those raised edges are incredibly brittle and vulnerable to loss! Paintings like this can be conserved and stabilized--often at much less cost than you would imagine. I have seen curled chips gently warmed and flattened and re-adhered to canvases. It is something to consider for the future, but it is work for a professional conservator.

I really like the saber, too, and I am knocked out by the ivory grip! I know almost nothing about edged weapons, but I think your husband has a fine one.
Thank you for the information. I will let my mil know as she currently still has the portrait. I really appreciate the advice.
 
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#35
A few things become apparent in seeing the sword images. The sword is of the first two decades of the century. It would never have been issued to an NCO and the sword was not of poor manufacture. Rather, it is the remains of a fancy sword that would have been the delight of a fairly well to do officer, decades before the ACW.

Unless there is an ancestor of the family that was an officer of the 1812 War period, or shortly after, it is a sword that came into the family at some point that needs a better provenance explained if it is to be associated with the ACW at all.

The remaining fitting on the scabbard is on backwards.

Old swords are often paired up with family histories with what may seem to be the best explanations but the note quoted doesn't fit the sword, nor make sense being listed as a cavalry sword (not that someone may not have been carried one on horseback).
Cheers
GC
GC, your comments make perfect sense. I also had the feeling that this saber was once a pretty fance item--not an NCO's arm. However, your comments make me wonder this: Would it be reasonable to think the young man in the portrait inherited HIS ancestor's saber at some point before the Civil War? Perhaps once belonging to his father or his uncle or his grandfather? If so, would it be reasonable to think that our young man might have carried it off to war?
 
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#36
A couple of other tips about the portrait to pass on to your mother in law: Try to avoid direct sunlight, and tell her to never, ever, EVER take the painting off the wall and lay it flat on its back. You frequently see paintings in antique shops that have creased lines running around, just inside the edges of the frame. Those a "ghost" lines cause by the painting being stored on its back. It happens when the stretched canvas sags against the inside edge of the wooden stretcher. The safest way to store a painting is to hang it.
 
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#37
GC, your comments make perfect sense. I also had the feeling that this saber was once a pretty fance item--not an NCO's arm. However, your comments make me wonder this: Would it be reasonable to think the young man in the portrait inherited HIS ancestor's saber at some point before the Civil War? Perhaps once belonging to his father or his uncle or his grandfather? If so, would it be reasonable to think that our young man might have carried it off to war?
Looking at the records, it appears as if there were numerous individuals from this family who fought in the war, the sword in question is most likely an infantry officer's sword, prior to the regulations stipulating a straight blade. Other members of the family appear to have been cavalry troopers and thus the sword might have been employed briefly in that capacity as a new trooper went off to war. Once established the sword may have been sent home, as a replacement, more suited, was procured.
 
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Mississippi
#39
Your sword appears to be an early Eagle Head officer's sword, possibly 1812 or slightly later. It would have been appropriate for an 1861 sergeant to have such a sword, especially if it had a family connection, but the sword would have soon been retired after issue of arms at a camp of instruction/muster site because a musket was far more practical. This book has some good info: The American Sword, 1775-1945 By Harold Leslie Peterson.

I recommend you check this thread on eagle head swords and also the google drive of Glen_C.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/eagle-head-swords.116192/
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B9AOFMA8y3ODNllwS21ja1FuVmM
 

James N.

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#40
Here is a picture of the portrait my mother in law was kind enough to take. She is writing up a bit about what she knows about him. I was wrong about it being him in uniform I had remembered the grey coat and thought it was his uniform coat. I will take some pictures of the sword tonight and post them.
Very nice photo and in my opinion that is an early South Carolina, CS uniform, but there are experts that will know for sure. One such Scalawag is @Package4 .

Thanks for posting it.
Quite possibly the artist painted either from a photograph and took some liberties, the more I look at it, it appears as if it were really a type III jacket that somehow grew length.
This is definitely a uniform jacket, and apparently early-war from the necktie that screams 1861. (Though it might be a little later, it's very typical of early styles.)

Very nice, and taking a stab, I'd guess it was made circa 1830, so it could have been in multiple wars, any other ancestors who fought in the Mexican War?
GC, your comments make perfect sense. I also had the feeling that this saber was once a pretty fance item--not an NCO's arm. However, your comments make me wonder this: Would it be reasonable to think the young man in the portrait inherited HIS ancestor's saber at some point before the Civil War? Perhaps once belonging to his father or his uncle or his grandfather? If so, would it be reasonable to think that our young man might have carried it off to war?
In other and simpler words (and to repeat my thoughts), we have no idea who might have used the sword at any time in its history.
As noted in several posts above the sword is incorrect for both the Civil War and the cavalry - HOWEVER as also noted that made little if any difference to the soldiers of '61; the commanding general of the Confederate army outside Richmond in May, 1862 was wearing his father's sword from the War of 1812 and also his pistols in holsters on his saddle when he was seriously wounded.
 

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