I inherited these two swords. Can you help ID them for me please?

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Chris74

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Apr 25, 2016
My family on both my mother and father's side served in the Confederate Army during the war. I had several Grandfathers and Uncles who served in Mississippi Infantry and Cavalry Regiments. One of my Grandfathers was Daniel Sartir/Sartor Johnson who served in the Confederate Cavalry. I have been told and read conflicting information regarding his service. I have seen it written and read in some places that he served in Forrest's Regiment for the entire 4 years of the war, and I have read he joined the war in 1864. He was in the 8th Mississippi Cavalry I believe.

I have read he was captured with Forrest's Regiment at Selma, Alabama, and I have seen his parole papers stating this as well. After the war, my grandfather was a county supervisor in Chickasaw County, Mississippi and he helped write the Mississippi Constitution of 1890. Some of what I am told and read I can confirm, and other things may just be family lore.

My uncle, Daniel Johnson's gggrandson, passed away a couple of months ago. My uncle lived in Colorado, and while I had visited with him on the phone, through email, and at the occasional family get together in Mississippi, I had not been to see him in Colorado since I was a child. I was told many times that my uncle had Daniel Johnson's cavalry swords from the war in his possession. While I always wanted the swords myself, I knew my uncle had two sons of his own and 2 grandsons and I suspected they would inherit the swords upon my uncle's passing.

Well, yesterday I got home from a business trip and my wife told me she had a surprise for me. She presented me with two swords and told me my mother was able to acquire them from my uncle's sons after his passing, and they wanted me to have them. I was completely in shock and I can't believe I have been given these swords. My mother told me she remembers the swords being in the possession of her grandfather when she was a child. She remembers my grandfather, her father, inheriting the swords and them being in his possession until his passing, at which time my uncle took possession of the swords. My mother says she remembers the swords very clearly, and the swords I have are definitely the swords that have been passed through my family. With that said, while I am extremely grateful and very very happy to have these swords, I am not sure they were ever carried by my Confederate Cavalryman Grandfather.

One of the swords has a very weathered, aged dark blade. The blade is in great shape, but it definitely has the patina my completely untrained eye would expect of a sword of that era. It is marked with the Ames stamp on one side, and U.S. 1864 on the other side. The sword also has a pommel that is slightly different from the typical cavalry sword that I have seen of that era. The other sword appears to have been cleaned/polished at some point. The blade is very shiny, but shows signs of previous slight pitting maybe. This blade is marked with a very faint makers mark on one side and what appears to be a U.S. J.M. 1864 on the other side. I think the part of me that wants to believe these are the swords my family member carried in the war thinks the U.S. on this blade could actually be a C.S. that has been weathered or polished off, but I realize it probably actually says U.S. on the blade. My mother says she remembers the swords being in the scabbards when she was younger, but she says my uncle hung the swords on the wall of his home without the scabbards, and no one knows what has become of either scabbard.

I am hoping you all can answer some questions for me about the swords. Is it possible these swords were carried by a Confederate Cavalryman during the war? I suppose the swords could have been captured or taken from dead union soldiers maybe? Since I know my grandfather was captured at Selma, and from what I read that was the end of the war for him, would he have been allowed to keep his sword or swords after surrendering? I would think not, but I don't know. What I believe the likely answer to my questions about the origin of the swords may be is my Grandfather, who was active in reunions and Confederate Veteran groups, bought swords to replace the swords he lost in the war, and these are probably those swords. I would think he would want a sword to have when he dressed up for reunions, if he was going to wear his uniform. I guess it is also possible that some family member bought both swords at a yard sale in the early 1900's. Either way, I am happy to have these family heirlooms. I know they have been in family for at least several generations, and that makes them very special to me.

I am attaching links to some information I have about my grandfather, Daniel S. Johnson, as well as photos of the swords. I took these photos last night, and if needed I can take more later today. Thanks in advance for any information you may be able to provide.

http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi/pages.suddenlink.net/</fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=58615130

https://books.google.com/books?id=gDBEAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA107&lpg=PA107&dq=daniel+s.+johnson+chickasaw+confederate&source=bl&ots=0NFB3GNmXW&sig=Y0w6sdeJJ_0Q2sFFvkNPZrfYNOs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwicqIzCxufQAhXISCYKHcf9ASIQ6AEINjAF#v=onepage&q=daniel s. johnson chickasaw confederate&f=false
 

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Greyfalcon

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Nov 4, 2016
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The Confederacy in my Heart
Fast guess; both look to be Model 1860 Cavalry sabres. The J.M. 1864 is an inspector mark. I can't make out the other markings. Great post and history! :thumbsup:

I would wait for someone who is authoritative to give you more/correct information if my guess is wrong.
 
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Story

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Location
SE PA
One of my Grandfathers was Daniel Sartir/Sartor Johnson who served in the Confederate Cavalry. I have been told and read conflicting information regarding his service. I have seen it written and read in some places that he served in Forrest's Regiment for the entire 4 years of the war, and I have read he joined the war in 1864. He was in the 8th Mississippi Cavalry I believe.
It'd be worth researching whether then 8th MS Cavalry preferred a brace of revolvers (which was pretty standard at that point) over lugging around sabers.

Major William L. Duff, formerly of the Seventeenth Mississippi Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia, returned to Mississippi and received authority from the Secretary of War to raise a battalion for the defense of Northern Mississippi. Col. R.V. Richardson, commanding in Northeast Mississippi, October 28, 1863, reported: "There are now several new battalions and regiments forming in my district. Lieutenant-Colonel Duff has a battalion nearly ready for the field. They need about 500 guns, and saddles, accouterments and equipments."
http://www.dixiescv.org/cavalry/8th_mississippi_cavalry.html
 
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DixieRifles

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Collierville, TN
I have seen it written and read in some places that he served in Forrest's Regiment for the entire 4 years of the war, and I have read he joined the war in 1864. He was in the 8th Mississippi Cavalry I believe.
Forrest's Regiment became his personnel guard and they were armed with sabers after the other troopers quit using them.
Even so, if he served earky in the war he had them. When they quite using them, he probably sent them home --- thereby preserving them.
 

dale007

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Dec 8, 2016
Location
Parker, Co
I believe Greyfalcon is correct that the two swords are 1860 light cavalry sabers made by Ames. The Confederate defeat at Selma, Ala. on 4/2/65 was probably one of the first major defeats of Forrest's command. Forrest, himself, was wounded by a saber thrust from a Union Captain. Forrest killed the Captain with his revolver (probably a Colt 1851 Navy). Forrest and most of his command escaped in the night. Union Major General James H Wilson led 13,500 cavalry against Forrest's 2000. Selma was an arsenal city for the South and ironically, had ample supplies of canister shells which could have served the Confederate artillery well in repelling the Union forces but could not be reached by the rebels.
If your ancestor was a private or enlisted man, it is doubtful he would have had a sword in combat. Your speculation about post war purchases of the swords you have is more logical. Interestingly, I have researched and written about two youthful cavalrymen in Forrest's command who might have been at that battle who also survived the war. One of them was furnished an 1851 Navy Colt by Forrest, and when I obtained it from the collection of a private museum, it had been described as belonging to a "Captain" Gibb. My research proved that Gibb was always only a private and that possibly a descendant had "promoted" his ancestor to make the weapon more interesting when he sold it to the museum.
Whatever the case, you have two desirable swords, and with more digging into the past you may come up with more family lore. Best regards, Dale007
 
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James N.

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... I am extremely grateful and very very happy to have these swords, I am not sure they were ever carried by my Confederate Cavalryman Grandfather.
... The blade is very shiny, but shows signs of previous slight pitting maybe. This blade is marked with a very faint makers mark on one side and what appears to be a U.S. J.M. 1864 on the other side.
... Is it possible these swords were carried by a Confederate Cavalryman during the war? I suppose the swords could have been captured or taken from dead union soldiers maybe?

Both are U.S. M.1860 enlisted men's cavalry sabers, which were of course utilized by Confederate troops whenever they captured them. The one in the last photo bears the mark of manufacturer Mansfield & Lamb and as you state the other was made in Chicoppee, Mass. by the Ames Mfg. Co. Since these were both made in 1864 the chance of Confederate use is diminished but it's possible. Unfortunately with no way to now prove it they only have the value of typical U.S. cavalry sabers.
 

Chris74

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Apr 25, 2016
Thank you all very much for your replies and information. It is greatly appreciated.

Does anyone know by chance why the branches on the D guard of the sword with the darker blade appear to be shaped differently than the other? They appear to both be manufactured the way they are, but they definitely have differences. Thanks again.
 
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James N.

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I think he wants to make you an offer for them. :sabre::hungry:
Unfortunately I'm no longer in the market for swords, having divested myself of about half my collection several years ago.. I no longer have a Mansfield & Lamb, but have kept these Ames examples:

http://civilwartalk.com/threads/cavalry-and-dragoon-sabers-by-the-n-p-ames-co.109389/

... Does anyone know by chance why the branches on the D guard of the sword with the darker blade appear to be shaped differently than the other? They appear to both be manufactured the way they are, but they definitely have differences. Thanks again.
They've been twisted or bent over the years, though the different manufacturers vary slightly.
 

Glen_C

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Location
Nipmuc USA
Considering the condition, both swords were collected well after the war. Both sword guards are distorted. The only way to explain the current condition is of having extremely heavy play within the extended family over the centuries, or both being field pickups after the war. While the swords should not really take away from family histories, it is too easy for some families to build fanciful backgrounds for the swords. If they had been collected with scabbards, then where are they?

Cheers

GC
 
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Chris74

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Apr 25, 2016
Considering the condition, both swords were collected well after the war. Both sword guards are distorted. The only way to explain the current condition is of having extremely heavy play within the extended family over the centuries, or both being field pickups after the war. While the swords should not really take away from family histories, it is too easy for some families to build fanciful backgrounds for the swords. If they had been collected with scabbards, then where are they?

Cheers

GC
I don't know where the scabbards are. My mother remembers both of the swords from her childhood. She also remembers them leaning against the wall in her grandfathers home in their scabbards. I called my 85 year old aunt who is my mother and uncle's older sister to ask her about the swords. She told me she clearly remembers both swords from her childhood. She also remembers them being in their scabbards. When I asked her if she remembered what the scabbards looked like, she told me they were metal and had "little rings" on them.

My uncle, who had the swords for the last 50 years, had them hanging on his wall in his home office without the scabbards. My bet is my uncle removed the swords from their scabbards when he hung them and put the scabbards "somewhere". I don't know where he put them. He may have stuck them in a box that got thrown away at some point in the last 50 years, or they may still be at his house in a box in the attic or basement. His kids have no interest in the swords or their history. I don't know that they have ever seen the swords in their scabbards, nor do I believe they would know what they are if they did.

I don't think this is a case of anyone trying to build fanciful backgrounds about the swords. The family believes the swords belonged to Daniel S. Johnson who served in the Confederate Cavalry. They believe these were his swords during the war, and while I am fairly comfortable saying they weren't, I do believe they probably belonged to him at some point. Regardless of whether or not they were his, I am reasonably certain they belonged to my great grandfather, grandfather, and uncle. That in and of itself makes them special to me.

Thanks again for all of the comments and information.
 

James N.

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... When I asked her if she remembered what the scabbards looked like, she told me they were metal and had "little rings" on them.

My uncle, who had the swords for the last 50 years, had them hanging on his wall in his home office without the scabbards. My bet is my uncle removed the swords from their scabbards when he hung them and put the scabbards "somewhere". I don't know where he put them. He may have stuck them in a box that got thrown away at some point in the last 50 years, or they may still be at his house in a box in the attic or basement. His kids have no interest in the swords or their history. I don't know that they have ever seen the swords in their scabbards, nor do I believe they would know what they are if they did...
To see what the scabbards looked like, go back and click on the link I provided in my above post. No doubt your uncle displayed them crossed on the wall in the manner of cavalry insignia.
 
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Interestingly, I have researched and written about two youthful cavalrymen in Forrest's command who might have been at that battle who also survived the war. One of them was furnished an 1851 Navy Colt by Forrest, and when I obtained it from the collection of a private museum, it had been described as belonging to a "Captain" Gibb. My research proved that Gibb was always only a private and that possibly a descendant had "promoted" his ancestor to make the weapon more interesting when he sold it to the museum.
Whatever the case, you have two desirable swords, and with more digging into the past you may come up with more family lore. Best regards, Dale007
Hello dale007, welcome aboard.

Your research on Forrest's troopers is very interesting.

As one of the hosts of the Forrest forum, I invite you to drop in and look around. Maybe you can share some of your findings with us.
 
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