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    Description

    1862 Confederate Presentation Sword to General Christopher H. Mott by the "Jeff Davis Guards". A unique New Orleans-made silver mounted eaglehead sword presented to Confederate Brigadier General Christopher Hayes Mott by the "Jeff Davis Rifles" on March 28, 1862. Doubtless the highest grade Confederate officer's sword in private hands. Mott was killed in action leading the regiment he commanded, the 19th Mississippi Infantry, in a charge against Federal positions at Williamsburg, Virginia May 5, 1862. A silver plaque affixed to the scabbard between the ring mounts bears the following inscription, "Presented/ To/ Brig. Genl. C. H. Mott/ By his former Company/ Jeff Davis Rifles/ March 28th/ 1862."

    Having served as a lieutenant in the First Mississippi "Rifles" during the Mexican War, Mott returned to Holly Springs where he became a respected lawyer while rising in the ranks of the Mississippi State Militia. With the outbreak of the Civil War he formed the "Jeff Davis Rifles" and was one of four brigadiers commissioned by the state. With the integration of state troops into regular Confederate service, he was authorized to form the 19th Mississippi in May 1861, serving as the regiment's colonel. On May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Williamsburg the 19th, as part of Wilcox's brigade of Longstreet's division, advanced against Federal fortifications with Mott at their head. Fierce fighting ensued when, in Wilcox's words "the gallant Mott fell mortally wounded, being pierced through the breast with a Minie bullet, leading his regiment in the charge with the heroism of a true and veteran soldier." Lt. Col. L. Q. C. Lamar, who assumed command of the regiment after Mott's death lamented his loss, stating, "this accomplished soldier, model gentleman, and devoted patriot has given his life to his country. No richer contribution, no nobler sacrifice, can ever be laid upon the altar."

    The hilt of this magnificent sword is composed entirely of silver and silver gilt. The exquisitely detailed eaglehead pommel surmounts a silver gilt grip having the center section decorated with an engraved spiral band, punch decorated with stars. A central panel on the obverse face of the grip displays a skull and crossbones (probably Masonic), a shield, crossed cannons and a flaming bomb, all cast in relief. A corresponding panel on the reverse side of the grip features a panoply of arms with crossed flags, crossed axes, crossed cannons and a flaming bomb. The guard is entirely of silver gilt and is without peer in Confederate manufactured swords. The wide knuckle bow is suspended from the eagle's open beak and is pierced for its entire length with vines and maple leaves. This design extends on to the top of the quillon where it is cast in relief. The inboard face of the quillon bears an engraved shell motif. The half basket guard is pierced with the central theme of the Louisiana seal with a Pelican feeding her young, enclosed in a laurel wreath, surmounted by a tucked wing eagle. This is flanked on both sides by three different Confederate flags, which are delineated and detailed with hand engraving, being the first national, the battle flag (St. Andrews cross) and the flag of Louisiana. The whole is then flanked by arms including cannons, a mortar, drum, swords and stands of cannon balls. The entire pierced panel is decorated at both sides by cast designs of oak leaves and acorns. The same design, with the exception of the pelican, is also presented on the inside of the guard. The top of the inboard counterguard bears a raised panel containing an old English CS cast in relief. The slightly curved 30½" blade features a single wide shallow unstopped fuller and is profusely and delicately etched to within 4" of the tip. The obverse displays floral and scroll motifs with an old English CS in a central riband, above which is a vine of oak leaves and acorns. The reverse features crossed cannons on a stand of cannon balls, above which is a panoply of flags featuring a Confederate first national. A 5½" central panel surrounded by scrolls bears the legend "Genl C. H. Mott" in old English. The gilt brass scabbard utilizes pierced silver gilt mounts with filigree decorated ring mounts and brass rings. The inscription is presented on a 4½" silver plaque with beaded border and floral finials. Although unsigned, the blade etch being stylistically identical to other examples by Thomas Griswold, and the fact that there are at least two other known swords by Griswold that utilize an eagle head pommel, leaves little doubt that this sword is, in fact, a product of the Griswold shop, renowned for the quality and ornateness of its products. A rare opportunity to own a magnificent Confederate sword that is unrivaled for the striking beauty it displays and the sense of history and romance it engenders.

    Condition:
    The brass scabbard retains only traces of the original gilt in recessed areas and there is one shallow dent on the face of the lower mount, otherwise perfect. Hilt mint with varying degrees of light patina. The blade with just a few very minor, indeed negligible, blemishes otherwise mint.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    29th-30th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 7,678

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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