Short Bladed M1859 Marine Musicians' swords

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The Marines adopted the Horstmann variant of the M1840 NCO sword with the turned down rear counterguard for musicians of the Corps on 15 October 1859. The standard blade length for the NCO sword was 31”, which was much too long for many of the boy musicians serving with the Corps, so the Marines directed a good number of these swords be made with shorter blades, i.e. 24”, 26” and 28”.

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I am currently researching an article on the M1859 Marine musicians’ sword. Based on the numbers of the short-bladed musicians’ swords produced over the years prior to the introduction of the so-called M1875 musicians’ sword, the one with the initials “U.S.M.C.” etched on the blade, there should be a number of survivors of the old pattern with short blades. Although I have seen the latter M1875 version with a variety of different length blades, I have only seen 31” blades on the original pattern. If any forum members have examples of the original Horstmann M1840 NCO/M1859 Marine musicians sword with blades shorter than 31”, I would appreciate it if you could share the details. Thanks.
 
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That's right. Young boys, some as young as 12 or possibly younger, were apprenticed to the Corps to learn music. When the sword was first adopted in October 1859 the Quartermaster stipulated the blades were “to be made shortened when required for small boys”. In 1861, in his order for swords, the Quartermaster specified “I will thank you in execution of this order to have one half of each, the sergeants and music swords, to be made with shorter, i.e. the sergeants swords 28 ½ inches in the blade and the music swords will be respectively 24 and 26 inches long in the blade. The standard sample is 31 inches long in the blade, entirely too long for music boys."
 
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major bill

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Great topic. The sea services were known for having young boys in them. Often this was a great opportunity for youths that had few other options.
 

Glen_C

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Richard has put a lot of research and observation into the USMC swords and helped explain my shortie and examples that have popped up such as one example in the Medicus Collection book. The scale is quite obvious between my short Roby and standard Ames nco.

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There are these distinctive hilt attributes in the guard castings that seem to reach across a handful of manufacturers that fulfilled this standard. The timeline of these fairly specific.

Cheers
GC
 
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bobinwmass

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While my short Roby NCO sword is not the turned down guard Marine musician sword you are looking for, it is further evidence that shorter versions of swords were made. Besides the 28 1/2 blade mentioned above, it has the traditional Roby grape and thistle etching and has the owner's name engraved on the blade. I assume it was for some cadet sergeant somewhere.

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Not a Marine sword but very interesting. I have seen a quite a few M1840 NCO swords with etched blades, presumably private purchase items, but this is the only one I have seen stamped with a "U.S." and date. There are no inspector initials, but usually the "U.S." and date stamp are indicative of acceptance by the Federal Government. Don't know what the story might have been!

Have you tried tracing the Name Josua G (?) Barrett through the various CW veterans lists to see if any likely candidates showed up?
 

Glen_C

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The Roby history is an interesting rabbit hole in and of itself. Very involved in local politics and militia as an involved citizen. It is not entirely a stretch to list the named sword as a fraternal sword after the war years, etching the dated blade as late as 1868 or so. The Roby&Co. business was sold late in the '60s. My blade does not bear the circle marking but rather etched vs stamped and with no date. As with the named blade, I cannot be certain my blade and sword was ACW period but it did surface from a Gettysburg dealer.

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My files are a bit scattered but I have more Roby marks on these with the short etched small counterguard with the scroll line.

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There is no conclusive proof these Roby swords may not have been post war but the castings follow the other known makers, including Ames.

Cheers
GC

Roby article
http://www.chelmsfordgov.com/CHCwebsite/PDF_files/Main_190.pdf
 
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bobinwmass

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Not a Marine sword but very interesting. I have seen a quite a few M1840 NCO swords with etched blades, presumably private purchase items, but this is the only one I have seen stamped with a "U.S." and date. There are no inspector initials, but usually the "U.S." and date stamp are indicative of acceptance by the Federal Government. Don't know what the story might have been!

Have you tried tracing the Name Josua G (?) Barrett through the various CW veterans lists to see if any likely candidates showed up?
I don't want to hijack your thread with a discussion of my sword, but did not find him in Massachusetts soldiers. I have seen a staff and field sword by Roby with Highland Cadet emblems and a cadet officer's name engraved. Thought I would check their yearbooks next time I get to Worcester library.
 

Glen_C

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Look to reverend Joshua Barrett passing in 1867-1868 (or made for a descendant), son of Col James Barrett (American Revolution) and the Concord Mass Barrett mill and family farm. The Hamilton article link has a couple of of paragraphs regarding etching swords for fraternal brothers and others. I think it might be unusual for a cadet to wear such a formal sword but maybe presented upon graduation.

Cheers
GC

Edit to mention It looks more like an Old English E than C or G I love a good search :wink: Elijah? Emerson? Ezekiel? Edward? Evan?

aha, an Emerson in the Concord family tree
 
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