Model 1850 Foot Officer Sword
(circa 1850-1872)



Union Army 1st Lieutenant

 

This sword was adopted by the War Department in 1850. Lieutenants and captains of infantry, artillery and riflemen carried this model sword during the Civil War.

This sword was made by Friedrich Horster of Solingen, Germany. Horster was known for producing very fine officer swords and sabers, including the one used by General Philip H. Sheridan which is on display in the Smithsonian. The workmanship on the hilt of this particular sword is excellent. The slightly curved 30" blade is deeply etched with U.S., flags, banners, foliage, and trophies. The grip is wrapped with ray skin, held in place with twisted strands of brass wire. This sword is in exceptional condition. The sword comes with its original leather and brass scabbard.

Note: "Ray skin" is actually fish skin taken from specific species of stingray or shark. This material was used because it does not readily breakdown or shrink when wet, and because the bumpy or rough surface would provide a good grip, especially when the sword user had sweaty hands. The covering is then wrapped with a single pair of twisted brass wire to keep the skin tight and firm.