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Thread: MOST of a Confederate Cavalry Saber Made by the Nashville Plow Works

  1. #1
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    MOST of a Confederate Cavalry Saber Made by the Nashville Plow Works

    Although this has been seriously devalued by its having been cut down or broken and then likely used as a farm implement ( appropriate, considering its provenance! ), it remains one of the more interesting pieces in my collection. Made 1861 - 62 by the Nashville Plow Works in Nashville, Tennessee, cavalry sabers of this pattern were only made in that short window of time due to the city's early fall in March of 1862. Like many products of small shops and blacksmiths in the South at the beginning of the Civil War, the crudity of manufacture and finishing is evident; note the many file marks overall. About half the high iron-content blade with typical unstopped fuller remains, darkened and pitted with age and use and now measuring 19 1/4"; it's 24 1/2" OA.

    At least the distinctive hilt, though slightly deformed, hasn't been modified, though the knucklebow HAS broken through where it joins the tang and someone attempted to solder it to the cap of the backstrap. ( The solder has in its turn broken. ) The now-shrunken, chipped, and therefore loose wooden grip has lost its covering of thin leather; these never had wire wrap in the grooves. Notice that in typical Confederate fashion there is a mix of metals: brass for the knucklebow and backstrap, but a thin iron reenforcing ferrule at the base of the grip. Of most interest are the markings on the poorly-cast guard: the large block letters C S A below the blade; and smaller block letters in an arc above it spelling out NASHVILLE PLOW WORKS; note that the "N" in Nashville is BACKWARD!

    This style of sword was also made by the so-called College Hill Arsenal, which despite its name was just another small shop which also ceased production when Nashville was occupied by the enemy. These sabers are at least unusual, and although incomplete, I was happy to add it to my collection, now many years ago, even though I paid more for it than for most of my "good" Civil War pieces!
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  2. #2
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    A nice note of the times James. The ACW is really past my time of prime interest but I do have a couple of Nashville swords picture files I had come across over time One the cheap, I had bought a reproduction for cutting with that met my standards of size but that sword somewhat wholly anachronistic. One of the attached below from Norm Fladerman's Medicus collection and the other harvested not so long ago but long enough that I don't remember where I saw it. My reproduction was listed as a foot officer sword and I cannot say whether there really ever were any.

    I would have an immense amount of learning to do if headed into the confederate made swords. I have some cutlass photos saved as well but it was a few years ago that I had been wondering about the Nashville swords.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; since that repro, I have found some sturdy old swords to occasionally cut with but the repro does that nicely and cheaply

    attchments scrambled a bit
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    A nice note of the times James... My reproduction was listed as a foot officer sword and I cannot say whether there really ever were any.

    I would have an immense amount of learning to do if headed into the confederate made swords.
    Glen, Confederate swords are a minefield, largely because they have been reproduced now for many years, often in India and Pakestan where sword-making can easily be as crude as it was in the Confederacy! They are usually described by the peculiarities or characteristics of their various manufacturers. According to one of the primary sources, William A. Albaugh III's A Photographic Supplement of Confederate Swords With Addendum ( 1963 ), the style you show with the incised knucklebow is identified as a field/staff officer's, indicating intent for an officer of higher rank, but that's likely just speculation since they were private-purchase and there were no regulations covering Confederate use. He also illustrates two other varients, one with a plain-surfaced hilt like mine and another having a "stipppled" or pock-marked face on the hilt around the letters C S A and NASHVILLE PLOW WORKS. And upon looking at Albaugh again I find I was mistaken about these lacking wire wrapping on the grip; it was a fine, twisted brass.
    Last edited by James Neel; 03-13-2013 at 01:57 PM.

  4. #4
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    Thanks James

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