Confederate Purchased Georgia G P-1853 Saber
- Product Code: EWSK-1455-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
While the quantities of Enfield rifles and muskets imported by the South from England are fairly well documented, and reasonable estimates as to their numbers can be made, the quantities of British P-1853 Cavalry Sabers imported from England to the south is much more difficult to asses. The Pattern 1853 Cavalry Saber was an iron mounted, straight bladed saber with a spear point, flat back and a single fuller. The blades were nominally 34 ““ in length, although some minor variation of about ““ to ““ +/- has been noted. The guard was a 3-branch, wrought iron affair, with a forward swept iron quillon topping the guard, and an iron pommel cap. The grips were a pair of laminated, pressed leather “slabs”, that were roll-embossed with a checkered pattern and pinned to the tang of the blade, which was secured to the pommel cap by peening. The grip scales were very similar to those found on the English saber and cutlass bayonets of the same period. The saber was carried in a simple sheet metal scabbard with a pair of iron suspension rings that allowed it to be attached to the saber belt hangers. A search of the McRae Papers sheds some light on the Confederate purchases of edged weapons, but not all entries provide any more information than “swords”, and of course these could be other patterns than the P-1853 Cavalry Saber. Some British P-1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sabers (quite similar to our M-1833 Dragoon Saber) were imported by the Confederacy, as well as a variety of high quality officer’s sabers, often with blades that were etched with Confederate motifs. The south also bought some quantity of Austrian cavalry sabers, of various patterns. Some of the sabers are identified as being “cavalry” swords, and some intuitive classification of the type of sword can be made by looking at the prices paid for them. All of the invoices regarding the purchase of swords in the McRae Papers are from S. Isaac, Campbell & Company of London. The first invoice I can find in the McRae Papers referring to “swords’ is dated October 11, 1861 and is for “1,000 swords”, with no other descriptive information other than the price of 15/4 each, or 15 schillings and 4 pence per sword. The invoice also noted 40 cases were to be provided (shipping the swords 25 to the case), and two additional cases, one for 5 swords and one for 10. These smaller cases probably carried higher-grade officer’s swords that were invoiced separately. Another invoice dated the same day lists “1,000 sword belts” and “1,000 sword knots”. The sword knots certainly suggest that these were cavalry sabers, as the knot was much more important to a cavalry trooper than to anyone on foot. It is not clear what vessel (or vessels) these 1,000 swords were transported by, but it is likely that some of them arrived via Fingal and Gladiator. The first direct reference I can find to the purchase of “cavalry” sabers is an invoice dated March 10, 1862, which lists “1,000 swords, cavalry” and an accompanying invoice on the same date lists 1,000 sword belts and 1,000 sword knots. Another set of invoices dated March 20, 1862 is for “450 swords, cavalry”, with an additional invoice for a similar number of sword belts & knots, with “cavalry” being specified on the invoice regarding the belts. These 450 swords were to be shipped 50 to a case, and were specified as cargo aboard the blockade-runner Minna. It is reasonable to assume that all 1,450 of the swords purchased over that 10 days period, along with their accouterments, probably left for the south via that vessel. The March invoices indicate an increase in price from the former 15/4 charged at the end of 1861 to 16/9. The next invoice is dated June 24, 1862 and is for 500 more cavalry sabers, this time being shipped on the Phoebe. An August 1, 1862 invoice from S. Isaac, Campbell & Company lists another 2,000 “saber belts, cavalry”, as well as 550 “Cavalry Sabers’ at 16/9, but also lists 2,730 “Cavalry Sabers’ at less than 1/3 of that price, priced at only 5/3. That case was marked with a rhomboid with a large “CS’ and a small “A” as a superscript inside the mark. Underneath the rhomboid, there is the note SIC&Co 1/50. The case markings and the very low price suggest that these were not English sabers, but probably used Austrian cavalry sabers of various patterns. Other Austrian sabers are listed as being purchased directly from the Vienna Arsenal through S. Isaac, Campbell & Company in February of 1862, but those sabers were billed at 10/0 each. An undated McRae Papers ledger entry lists swords carried on board the blockade runners Gladiator and Stephen Hart. Gladiator is listed as carrying 50 swords in cases numbered 126 & 127, and Stephen Hart is recorded to have carried 364 swords, in cased numbered 22 & 23, and 128-140, with the additional noted that #140 only contained 14 swords, which indicates the balance were packed 25 to the case as was noted on the early invoices. As the McRae Papers do not contain any saber related invoices after August of 1862, little more can be gleaned from them, but a study of the Payne Papers reveal that between July 17, 1863 and January 12. 1865 (the period the papers cover), 103 cases of “cavalry sabers’ were delivered to the Port of Wilmington, NC on seven different dates, by five different ships. Assuming that these sabers were packed 50 to a case as well, that amounts to 5,150 cavalry sabers of various patterns, all of which are unknown. Realistically, it is safe to assume that they were a mixture of the P-1853 English sabers and the various patterns of Austrian sabers acquired by the Confederacy. While the McRae documents certainly do not contain everything related to Confederate arms purchases, they do establish that approximately 4,000 English cavalry sabers can be documented as being acquired through S. Isaac, Campbell & Company, along with about 7,000 Austrian cavalry sabers. To date, the one consistent feature found on the iron hilted P-1853 sabers that have Confederate provenance is that the spines are marked, near the hilt, either ISAAC & Co or SIC & Co LONDON. This makes sense as all known invoices for the purchase of English P-1853 cavalry sabers are from S. Isaac, Campbell & Company. What none of the extant documents or invoices reveals is the number of these sabers that were acquired by the State of Georgia. A few extant examples of the P-1853 saber are known with a capital “G” stamped on the reverse near the ricasso, with the same mark found on the scabbards between the throat and upper mounts. The general consensus is that the state of Georgia purchased these swords on their own, as they did with Enfield pattern rifles and rifle muskets, and the swords were stamped with the “Georgia G” in England as the guns were. However, it is possible that the mark was applied in Georgia, pursuant to a mid-war Georgia State Adjutant General’s order to mark all Georgia arms with a “G” for Georgia. The mark on the saber is similar one known to be found on a small number of various patterns of long guns that saw service with Georgia troops. There is no estimate as to the number of sabers that were so marked with a “G”, but they are considered quite scarce and a great addition to any collection of Confederate edged weapons.
Offered here is a very rare, Confederate Imported British Pattern 1853 Cavalry Saber with the very desirable and scarce Georgia “G” mark. The saber is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition, and has a nice, dark, mostly unmolested patina. The spine of the saber is marked ISAAC & Co and the reverse ricasso is marked with a G that is about .3” tall. The blade is nominally full length, measuring 34 “, and has a dull pewter color with a darker patina of mottled gray and oxidized dark metal over the base color. The sword was probably cleaned a very long time ago (possibly more than a century ago) and has aged and toned down to its present appearance. The blade is mostly smooth, with scattered light pitting along its length that becomes more evident (and more moderate) closer to the tip. The last half of the blade, closest to the end, shows the most aggressive wear, oxidation and pitting. The edge of the saber has been very lightly sharpened, and is free of any serious nicks or gouges. The iron guard shows even light pitting over its entire surface with a dark gray, almost black patina. The laminated leather grip panels rate about VERY GOOD and retain some of their original finish and roll embossed checkering. Much of the grip surface has flaked and worn smooth, but the checkering is still evident and the grips are solid with only slight shrinkage and no major warping. The grips remain solidly attached to the saber hilt. There is no scabbard present.
Overall this is a very good, unmolested, 100% original and correct example of a scarce Confederate Imported British Pattern 1853 Cavalry Saber. The sword bears the desirable ISAAC & Co mark on the spine and scarce Georgia “G” mark on the ricasso. This would be a solid addition to any Confederate sword collection, as well as any collection of Confederate import arms, especially those marked with the elusive Georgia “G”.SOLD