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Historic Inscribed US M1850 Staff & Field Officer's Sword
High quality M1850 Staff & Field Officer’s sword by Ames Mfg. of Chicopee, Mass. and so marked on the ricasso. The scabbard is engraved near the throat in script, "G. F. Towle/Sept. 18th 1861". This is George Francis Towle of New Hampshire, who became a Texas Ranger in 1859, where he engaged hostile Indians. Known before the war as an abolitionist, he served 6 months in the Texas Ranger before returning to New Hampshire. He accepted a commission as 1st Lieutenant in Co. B of the 4th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry on Sept. 18th, 1861 (the date inscribed on the sword). He was promoted to Captain on Jan. 17, 1862, Major on Jan. 3, 1865, and Lt. Col. On April 22, 1865. Towle also served as an officer after the war in the 19th Infantry of the US Army in the South, Midwest, and West, where he saw action against the Cheyennes. He retired from the Army in 1892 as a Captain and died in London, England on June 21, 1900.
During the Civil War Towle participated in Sherman’s expedition to Port Royal, SC in November, 1861. As a newly promoted Captain, Towle was part of Wright’s Brigade in the Florida expedition and served as Provost Marshal at Fernandina and St. Augustine. He commanded a boat expedition which resulted in the capture of the blockade runner "British Empire" at Matanzas Inlet, FL in April, 1862. He was in the first expedition against Charleston, SC and participated in actions against forts Sumpter, Wagner, and Gregg from July to September, 1863. He was Inspector-general of US forces at Morris Island and on the staff of General Terry in the Dept. of the South, First Division, 10th Corps, Army of the James. Towle was engaged as inspector of Terry’s Division at the actions of Swift Creek, Chester Station, Weir Bottom Church, Drury’s Bluff, 3 actions in front of Bermuda Hundred, the siege of Petersburg (including the mine explosion), Fussell’s Mills, New Market Heights, Laurel Hill, New Market, Williamsburg, Charles City, Darbytown Roads, and the capture of Wilmington and Raleigh. Breveted Major for meritorious service at the Battle of Fussell’s Mills, he participated in the second expedition to Ft. Fisher. Towle was breveted to Lt. Colonel for meritorious service in the capture of Ft. Fisher and wrote the account of the fort’s capture for General Terry. He maintained a close relationship with General Terry both during and after the war and included with this sword are copies of numerous papers from the Terry family archives involving Towle and the general.
The sword features the standard gilt brass guard with pierced foliate design and cutout "US", incorporating single reverse scrolled quillon and integral knucklebow joined to the separate Phrygian helmet form pommel with acanthus decoration at its base. Approx. 30% of the original gilding remains. Original ray skin grip with twisted brass wire. The slightly curved 30 ˝" blade is etched with floral and acanthus decoration, martial trophies, federal shield and eagle and "US", as well as "Ames Mfg Co/Chicopee/Mass" in script on the ricasso. Original leather blade washer showing the wear of a well-used sword. Blade shows moderate wear, salt and pepper pitting and a few stains, with one edge nick approx. 3" from the point. The iron scabbard is fitted with decorative brass throat, drag and double carrying rings, with remains of original gilding. The ring mounts appear to have been moved upward about 1" during its period of use. There are several shallow dents and some wear to the drag, typical of field use. This sword was probably the one carried by Towle throughout both his Civil War and post-war career, seeing much action during its lifetime.
Included with the sword are copies of Towle’s National Archives service record, photographs of Towle, handwritten letters to and from Towle, papers from the Terry Family Archives, and lists of actions and postings of the 4th New Hampshire. This sword was purchased by noted Civil War author Wiley Sword in 1979.