Regiment mark on Ames Sword

RobertH

Private
Joined
Jan 25, 2019
I'm thinking of buying this Ames sword. I'm assuming B 21 is a Regiment & Company marking. 21st Regiment, B Company. It's also stamped for the State it was issued to, so the 21st Reg makes sense. Any thoughts? I've heard people refer to these type stamps as "rack" organizational markings. But I never believed that.

Ames-B-21.JPG
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
I'm thinking of buying this Ames sword. I'm assuming B 21 is a Regiment & Company marking. 21st Regiment, B Company. It's also stamped for the State it was issued to, so the 21st Reg makes sense. Any thoughts? I've heard people refer to these type stamps as "rack" organizational markings. But I never believed that.

View attachment 388278
what Type of sword is it?
 

Jclynn911

Cadet
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Where did you find this for sale? I have been trying to look online for a light artillery sword but don't know who is reputable and reasonable. Can anyone help?
 

bobinwmass

Corporal
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Location
Western Massachusetts
Knowing the State and type of sword will help answer the question. For example, if a cavalry or light artillery saber, many states, including Massachusetts, did not have cavalry regiments or light artillery batteries that were numbered as high as 21. In those cases the markings could very well stand for the company and the 21st man in the company to whom it was issued, so they could track the sword.
 

bobinwmass

Corporal
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Location
Western Massachusetts
I think the term "rack number" is usually inaccurate, except perhaps with weapons like naval cutlasses that likely were kept in racks to be grabbed any sailors in case of boarding attempt. But individual soldiers were responsible for the specific weapons issued to them. If weapons were lost or not turned in when mustering out, the value of the weapon could be deducted from his pay. Weapons that did not have serial numbers that could be used for tracking purposes often had markings stamped on them like those on this sword, and the number was recorded against the name of the soldier it was issued to.
 

RobertH

Private
Joined
Jan 25, 2019
Knowing the State and type of sword will help answer the question. For example, if a cavalry or light artillery saber, many states, including Massachusetts, did not have cavalry regiments or light artillery batteries that were numbered as high as 21. In those cases the markings could very well stand for the company and the 21st man in the company to whom it was issued, so they could track the sword.

I've read that in the early days of the war, artillery, cavalry, etc, were mixed in with infantry regiments. And that it was changed later as it led to "fractured" Chain of Command issues.

I too have heard people claim (or wonder) if items were numbered for an individual soldier. But this just seems logistically fraught with problems. So once a sword is numbered for one particular soldier, and that trooper gets sick or killed or transferred, then what? I have a hard time believing a soldier number is the case. But I could be proven wrong of course.

When I left the military (not Civil War, I'm not that old), I had a list of items that I had to account for and turn in. 1 helmet, 1 this, 1 that, etc - no serial numbers but I still had to turn them in. It makes more sense that a list of items was attributed to a CW soldier, and he had to turn those items in. A rifle would have been on that list and included a serial number. But it may have included other items that didn't have serial numbers. Does that make sense? Has anybody ready any written history about items issued to soldiers? I would love to hear if you had.
 

RobertH

Private
Joined
Jan 25, 2019
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I'm buying it from a guy I know if Florida.

When buying, I look for legitimate looking Ames (or other period manufacturers marks). Among other known characteristics of the particular sword I'm thinking of buying. if anything seems off, I don't buy.

I do have one fake CW sword, I knew it was fake when purchased for $20. And one sword that I'm not sure of, but didn't pay much for it.
 
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Jclynn911

Cadet
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Knowing the State and type of sword will help answer the question. For example, if a cavalry or light artillery saber, many states, including Massachusetts, did not have cavalry regiments or light artillery batteries that were numbered as high as 21. In those cases the markings could very well stand for the company and the 21st man in the company to whom it was issued, so they could track the sword.
My 3rd great grandfather was in the 120th NY regiment and Battery K, 4th United States Artillery which I believe was light artillery. He would have carried a light artillery sword and a revolver, correct? But when he is present for muster roll for the 120th he would then drop the light artillery sword etc. and get a rifle?
 

bobinwmass

Corporal
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Location
Western Massachusetts
My 3rd great grandfather was in the 120th NY regiment and Battery K, 4th United States Artillery which I believe was light artillery. He would have carried a light artillery sword and a revolver, correct? But when he is present for muster roll for the 120th he would then drop the light artillery sword etc. and get a rifle?
I'm not certain that light artillery soldiers would necessarily been issued a revolver, but some may have bought their own. When transferring out of one branch to another , you would be discharged ( mustered out) from the first unit, turning in the equipment belonging to the State or Federal government. If an enlisted man in the new unit, you would be issued unit uniform and gear/weapon.
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Rack numbers are legitimate and usually designate those soldiers who were quartered in barracks, at an arsenal, fort or other such structure both pre and during the war.

You did not necessarily have to turn in your kit and arms when you transferred or other method of mustering out of a unit, but you were responsible for all issued items and their condition.

Items issued and not returned were deducted from the soldier’s pay unless there was a compelling reason for the loss or damage of the item. (Loss or damage during a movement or engagement)

Somewhere I have a document that IIRC, only around 8% of the soldiers mustering out, at the end of the war elected, to keep their weapons. Who knew that Bannermans would soon be supplying those same weapons, for pennies on the dollar, to those vets?
 
Joined
May 1, 2015
Location
Upstate N.Y.
My 3rd great grandfather was in the 120th NY regiment and Battery K, 4th United States Artillery which I believe was light artillery. He would have carried a light artillery sword and a revolver, correct? But when he is present for muster roll for the 120th he would then drop the light artillery sword etc. and get a rifle?
Welcome, enjoy
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
I think such marks show the exact location where an item was stored in a rack. This sword marked B over 21 was likely in a rack for "Company B" or even "Rack B" and was to be stored in the the 21st slot. If the man assigned to take the weapon from slot 21 left the unit, someone else was assigned to take the weapon from slot 21, and I don't think you can figure out which man was which at any particular time. Some regiments of 900 men had total membership of several thousands of men over that regiment's service in the War, and how could anyone know who was assigned spot 21 in Company B at any particular time?
I think of it as how a parking garage might have parking spaces with markings, and I might be assigned Floor B, parking space #21 this month, and next month when I quit, or got promoted, or started walking to work, or got killed on the job, some other person would be using space #21 on parking level B.
I believe that we find these type markings more often on items used by units that had stationary assignments, such as on a ship, or in a fort, rather than units that were on the move.
 
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