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1899 CUBAN WAR VET 2nd ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER Later CHICAGO POLICE CHIEF Sword Sword Presented to Capt. John J. Garrity Co. H
1899 CUBAN WAR VET 2nd ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER Later CHICAGO POLICE CHIEF Sword
Sword Presented to Capt. John J. Garrity Co. H
Here we present an antique E.A. Armstrong Presentation Sword to Capt. John J. Garrity, made circa the mid-1890s in Chicago, Illinois. This magnificent sword was presented to Captain (and later Brigadier General) John J. Garrity, who after retiring from the military became Chief of Police of Chicago from November 25, 1918, to November 10, 1920, and continued to be prominent in the Illinois National Guard for many years after leaving the police department.
Garrity enlisted in the National Guard on June 14, 1889, as a buck private, and through successive promotions, he reached the rank of colonel in 1907. In 1894, he was a Captain in the 2nd Illinois Infantry, Company “H” and was there to put down the multiday Pullman Riots. During the Spanish-American War (1898), he served at Cienfuegas, Cuba, which is the timeframe he was gifted this personalized sword by men in his company.
During World War I he commanded a regiment at Camp Logan in Houston, Texas assigned to protecting the Mexican border in 1916. In November 1918, he was tapped to become the new Chief of Police for Chicago, under the Mayor William Hale Thompson. This period in Chicago’s (and the US’s) history was plagued with many problems—not unlike the present time. Truth be told, no one else wanted the job. High-ranking officers agreed to fill in but did not want the job permanently. The war was just over, labor strikes and organization were a threat to business as usual, racial tensions resulted in violence, government and department corruption were rampant, Prohibition would be enforced. It was probably an impossible undertaking. Mayor Thompson is also known to have been complicit with organized crime in Chicago and he is the one who fired Garrity in 1920.
In 1924 he returned to active military service with the Illinois National Guard. He retired in 1933 with the rank of brigadier general of the 65th Infantry Brigade. Garrity passed away at the age of 71 on August 10, 1940.
The sword was made by the Edwin A. Armstrong company which after operating in Detroit from 1871 until 1892 moved to Chicago until it was bought out by sword manufacturer Henderson. After Armstrong’s death in 1899 the firm operated under the name of Ames Sword Company. The straight diamond shaped etched blade has the standard “U.S.”, eagle, military and floral etching on both sides and measures 30-7/8 inches in length.
The overall condition is fine. Mostly bright, etched blade. The hand guard has a little wiggle. The grips are very good and the wire remains tightly wrapped. Ornate cast brass hardware and fixtures. The scabbard is in fine shape (The plated brass scabbard has a long inscription in a panel between the throat and the ring band that reads “Presented to Capt. Jno. J. Garrity By the Members/ Of Company “H” 2nd Ill. Vol. Infantry/ Havana, Cuba. March 18th 1899”).
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Blade is 30-7/8 inches.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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