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    Striking and Stately Cased Silver Mounted Sword Presented to Major Daniel McPhail, February 22, 1849, for Mexican War Action. Made in its entirety by famed Baltimore cutler and Bowie knife maker Samuel Jackson. Superb condition and impeccably provenanced. A unique American presentation sword, not only for its form but also for the sturdy workmanship it exhibits, clearly implying its origins in the shop of a knife maker. Daniel H. McPhail was born in Baltimore in 1813 and was appointed a second lieutenant in the 5th U. S. Infantry by Andrew Jackson in 1837. On July 10, 1846, he was promoted to captain and commanded a company of this regiment throughout the Mexican War. McPhail was brevetted to major for action at Churubusco where he was also wounded, "his uniform being pierced with bullet holes in the front and across the shoulders. By Resolution No. 17, Acts of 1849, the Maryland legislature tendered its gratitude to McPhail for "his bravery and gallantry in eleven battles during the recent conflict of arms with the Republic of Mexico..." At the outbreak of the Civil War General Scott offered McPhail a commission and he served for a time on the staff of General Rosecrans, along with Garfield and Hayes. In the later stages of the war he served as paymaster at Wheeling, West Virginia, receiving a brevet to lieutenant colonel for faithful and meritorious service. After the war McPhail was stationed in New Orleans and Charleston and died in Baltimore in 1884.

    A remarkable piece of provenance which accompanies the sword is an article from the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser dated February 23, 1849 (ironically the day after the presentation on the sword is actually dated) which states in part, "We examined yesterday at the cutlery and surgical instrument manufactory of Mr. Samuel Jackson, on Baltimore Street above St. Paul's Street, a splendid sword, every part of which has been manufactured in Mr. J's own establishment, and after a unique pattern of his own designing. The hilt is octagon shaped, made of silver, and surmounted by a well executed head of Washington, also of silver. The guard represents two dolphins, the engraving and chasing of which has been finished in a style of unsurpassed beauty. The blade, which is of the straight, cut and thrust order, is of the truest and finest steel, polished in the most exquisite manner; the upper half of it being elegantly marked. A more beautiful specimen of workmanship that this blade represents has never come under our inspection. The scabbard is of steel, finely polished, and elegantly mounted with silver. The whole appearance of the sword is that of a chaste and rich neatness, which will recommend it to the taste of all". In addition to the details described in the article there is a narrow band of silver inlaid in the blade at the ricasso, on both sides, just below Jackson's logo. The blade utilizes a single narrow central fuller and is decorated with lightly engraved parallel lines on either side of the fuller. The blade is held in place at the pommel with a spanner nut. The chain guard is made of decoratively cut and pierced interlocking silver links, attached at the pommel and the guard with braided silver suspensory loops. The steel body of the scabbard, in addition to being polished, is blued. The battles listed on the back of the silver top mount are "Monterey, Vera Cruz, San Antonio, Churubusco, Molino Del Ray, Chapultepec, Garita de Belen, Garita de San Cosine, City of Mexico". Below this is a later inscription, "Col. D. H. McPhail / to/ G. H. Coutts/ January 30th, 1884" (the exact date of McPhail's death). The original oak casing is compartmented and fitted to the sword with green and red wool felt lining and retains the original key. The sword also retains the original buff chamois storage case. A portrait of McPhail in uniform, ca. 1840, is held by the Maryland Historical Society. A remarkable sword, by a most desirable maker, presented to a gallant American officer.

    Aside from one very small (¼" X 1½") patch of light pitting on the blade, 12" from the tip, the sword is mint. The casing has some light exterior scratches, otherwise perfect with nice patina. The lining is perfect as is the chamois storage case.

    Medicus, Flayderman, & The Donald R.Tharpe Collection of American Military History

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    29th-30th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 901

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