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    Description

    Incredible Cased Gold Mounted Sword Presented to Major General John E. Wool by the Congress of the United States for Gallantry at the Battle of Buena Vista, February 22-23, 1847. Made by famed cutler Samuel Jackson of Baltimore, Maryland. A joint resolution of Congress, approved January 24, 1854, states "That the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendered, to Brevet Major General John E. Wool, for his distinguished services in the late war with Mexico; and especially for the skill, enterprise, and courage which distinguished his conduct at the Battle of Buena Vista. Resolved, That the President be requested to cause a sword, with suitable devices, to be presented to General Wool as a testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his gallant and judicious conduct on that memorable occasion."

    John Ellis Wool was born in Newburgh, New York in 1784. In the spring of 1812 he accepted a commission as a captain in the 13th U. S. Infantry. Wool was severely wounded at the Battle of Queenston, promoted to major in the 29th Infantry April 13, 1813, and brevetted to lieutenant colonel September 11, 1814, for gallantry at Plattsburgh. His regular army career secured, he was elevated to colonel and Inspector General of the Army, April 29, 1816, a rank and position he held for more than a quarter century. On June 25, 1841, Wool was commissioned brigadier general and in 1846, at the commencement of the Mexican War, was sent to Cincinnati to organize the influx of volunteers from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Mississippi, preparing and organizing 12,000 men in a space of six weeks. On August 14 he arrived in San Antonio, efficiently training his force, and setting out for Saltillo on September 26. He traveled some 900 miles through hostile country, arriving on December 22. Wool is generally credited with being largely responsible for the American victory at Buena Vista, choosing the ground and strategically placing the American forces. For his part in the battle Wool was promoted to major general in November of 1847 and became the military governor of Northern Mexico. He returned to the United States to a hero's welcome and, in the years leading up to the Civil War held several department level commands. In August 1861 he was placed in charge of the Department of Virginia and, with the aid of the U. S. Navy, succeeded in capturing the vital port of Norfolk. Finally in August 1863, at the age of seventy nine, having served fifty one years in the United States Army, Wool retired. He returned to his home in Troy, New York, where he died in 1869.

    With the Congressional Resolution, the Ordnance Department was called upon by the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, to prepare a design for the sword. Captain James G. Benton was chosen for the task and the description of the sword is presented in his own words, "The ear of corn composing the hilt has no particular significance, further that it was thought to be unique and national. The eagle and shield which surmounts it, are national emblems, and the name Buena Vista is written on the shield, to convey an idea of the importance of that victory in a national point of view. The rattlesnake and cactus, which form the guard, are emblems of the Mexican nationality. The bands, to which the rings of the scabbard are fastened, are formed of laurel leaves, emblematic of the glory won by the General on the occasion; and the stars which adorn the tips are expressive of the brevet rank given him for his distinguished services. Congress appropriated $1500 for the sword."

    The sword is, of course, fabricated entirely of gold, the eyes of the massive eagle pommel being set with diamonds. The "Buena Vista" inscribed shield is separately affixed to the breast of the eagle. The eyes of the snake on the cross guard are rubies. All casting, texturing, engraving and finishing displays the ultimate in quality and detail. The heavy 31½" double edged blade harkens back to Jackson's knife making heritage, and has a deep narrow central fuller. The blade is etched for 2/3 of its length with a frosted background, incorporating panoplies of arms and flags, scroll motifs and floral garlands with an American eagle with riband and motto on both sides. All etching is exquisitely highlighted with hand engraved details. The blade is additionally decorated with light hand engraved lines above and below the etched panels. Uniquely, the ricasso is formed with three deeply forged ridges forming a chevron with "Samuel/ Jackson/ Baltimore" enclosed, on both sides. The original French style casing is of rosewood with heavily padded dark blue velvet lining. The fittings of the case are silver, including an escutcheon in the center of the lid and mounts on the corners. Case closure is achieved with two push buttons and it is fitted with a lock. Doubtless one of the most elegant American gold mounted swords ever produced with a superb history to one of the longest tenured officers in American military history.

    Condition:
    With the exception of come minor scratches and a shallow dent on the reverse of the scabbard the sword is mint. The interior of the casing is also mint. The casing is architecturally perfect w/just some exterior scratches. The silver mounts on the two rear corners of the lid are missing.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    29th-30th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,214

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