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Antique CUSTER Sailors Creek PRESENTATION Saber “Captured from Confederate Forces”
Antique CUSTER Sailors Creek PRESENTATION Saber
“Captured from Confederate Forces”
Here we present an antique Civil War Period Cavalry Saber, made in Toledo, Spain circa 1860 and “Presented to Maj. Gen. George A. Custer”. This saber was based upon the British 1821 pattern light cavalry saber and made by Ballesteros Fabrica de Armas Toledo. Toledo, Spain has been known for their blade steel for centuries, selling their wares all over Europe and later to the Americas. This Spanish model was used by foreign militaries such as Spain and Portugal and can be found with specific inspection marks that are telltale to the country of origin. This one, however, does not bear any foreign inspection marks. Rather, this sword features an engraved scabbard that reads “Captured from Confederate Forces/Presented to/MAJ. GEN. GEORGE A. CUSTER/for capturing 400 wagons and 16 guns at/Sailors Creek, Va. 1865”.
The Battle of Sailors Creek (spelled also Sayler’s Creek) was the last major battle pitting the Army of Northern Virginia—the main force of the Confederates led by General Lee—against the Army of the Potomac—the main force of the Union under General Grant. This was a last-ditch effort by Confederate forces to flee Petersburg west toward Lynchburg in order to resupply and regroup after having been cut off from supplies and reinforcements and beaten by Union forces. The scene can be characterized by an enormous wagon train (1000 wagons and 200 artillery guns) traveling over a rough terrain of hills, valleys and creeks, interrupted by pitched battles. It was a rout for the Confederates in which upwards of 8,000 Confederate troops were captured, to say nothing of those killed and wounded. General George Armstrong Custer was there in the thick of it with his cavalry and they did indeed capture several hundred supply wagons and 16 or so artillery pieces after exploiting a gap between Longstreet’s men and Anderson’s. He had his men burn the wagons before continuing pursuit of the other contingents of the escaping Confederates. This battle took place on the 6th of April 1865 and Lee would surrender the 9th of April, just a few days later after being surrounded by Grant.
This sword features a relatively straight blade with a slight curvature and single fuller. It has a robust steel hilt with a round quillon and flat sweeping branches on the guard. The ricasso is marked “BALLESTEROS FCA DE ARMAS TOLEDO”. The grips is wrapped in rayskin and wire. The engraving was done by hand and is in cursive with the exception of Custer’s title and name.
The overall condition is very good. The iron parts show use and weathering with a gray-brown patina. The wrap remains tight with some thinning to the rayskin. This is a compelling piece that fits well in the timeline and with the unfolding of events at Sailors Creek. This modest presentation sword stands in humble contrast in overall appearance to many of the incredibly ornate and elaborate presentation swords that are known today.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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