Union U.S. Officers Sword
U.S. Cavalry and Staff
MODEL 1850 STAFF AND FIELD CAVALRY OFFICER'S SWORD
The sword is one of the most recognizable weapons in human
history. Existing in every culture and civilization from time immemorial, swords have
been the backbone of armies since the times of Joshua before the walls of Jericho,
the Spartans at Thermopylae, and Caesar's legions in Gaul. By the mid 19th century
swords still played a vital role on both sides of the Civil War both on and off the
The Model 1850 Staff and Field Officer's sword was approved and adopted by the United States Army Ordnance Bureau on April 9, 1850. It was originally intended for higher grade officers who received a pay allowance or commutation and could could make their own purchase decision but by the time of the outbreak of hostilities in 1861 the weapon had become a standard issue item. In 1860 concessions were made for volunteer and State officers to carry a lighter, cheaper, straight-bladed sword called the model 1860. Photographic and documentary evidence, however, points to the Model 1850 Staff and Field Officer's sword as being the most popular sword among all ranks of Union officers during the Civil War and even well into the post-war period. A Model 1850 staff and field officer's sword is much more correct to the Civil War period than the Model 1860 which, while used to a much smaller extent, was not officially adopted by the Ordnance Department until 1872!
The sword has an elaborate half-basket guard that bears the letters U.S. and typically has ornate patriotic etchings on the blade. Most swords carried by foot officers had a leather scabbard while mounted officers were allowed metal scabbards that were better able to stand up to constant banging against saddle accoutrements. The leather scabbards had brass fittings - throat, middle ring, and drag. The blade of the Model 1850 has such a slight curve that at first glance it appears straight and is single-edged with a false edge extending several inches back from the tip.
Use of the Staff and Field Officer's sword was mandatory until 1860 when the lighter and more fragile model of that date became optional but officers who desired a real weapon continued to use the the Model 1850 Staff and Field Officer's sword until the end of the war.
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