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    Striking Gold Mounted Sword Presented by the Congress of the United States to James Hunter for the Defense of Fort Stephenson at Sandusky, Ohio, August 2, 1813. The blade bearing the following etched inscription, "Presented by the President of the U.S. to Captain James Hunter/ Pursuant to a Resolution of Congress of the 13th of February 1835." James Hunter was appointed adjutant of the Kentucky Mounted Rifles in 1811 and served with them at the Battle of Tippecanoe, being promoted to captain of the 17th U. S. Infantry on March 12, 1812. Hunter's gallant conduct, as part of the small garrison at Ft. Stephenson, touched the imagination and thrilled the heart of the American people at a time at a time when disgraceful imcompetency, defeat, and surrender filled the newspapers, and was a prelude to the victories of Perry and the Battle of the Thames. Ft. Stephenson was garrisoned by 160 men with an iron six pounder cannon, and commanded by a brave 21 year old Kentuckian, Major George Groghan, of the regular army. General William Henry Harrisson deemed the position to be untenable and ordered Groghan to abandon it. However, by the time his orders reached Groghan the fort was surrounded by a force of British regulars and their Indian allies, numbering over a thousand. Groghan, nonetheless, was determined to maintain the post. Upon being offered surrender terms by the British, with the warning that "our immense body of Indians cannot be constrained from massacring the whole garrison in the event of our undoubted success" the Americans responded that "When the fort shall be taken there will be no one to massacre. It will not be given up while a man is able to resist". On the afternoon of August 2, 1813, the British began their assault. Captain Hunter's skillful management of the six pounder and the deadly fire from the Kentucky riflemen, threw back the British, who left 120 dead and wounded on the field at a loss to the Americans of one dead and seven wounded. At 3:00 A. M. the following morning the British sailed down the Sandusky in retreat. Finally some 22 years later, by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, Groghan was presented a gold medal, while Hunter, and the five other officers engaged at Ft. Stephenson, were awarded swords.

    The 30 5/8" double edged blade is ovoid in cross section and etched for 2/3 of its length with laurel boughs, 13 stars in an arch, and a panoply consisting of a shield with arrows and laurel sprigs surrounded by rays. The etching additionally features hand engraved details. A panel on the obverse bears the inscription "Presented by the President of the U. S. to Captain James Hunter" and the corresponding panel on the reverse "Pursuant to a resolution of Congress of the 13th of February 1835." The cruciform hilt is solid gold with the crossguard displaying deeply cast acanthus leaves on a stippled background. The langets are in the form of maple leaves, the obverse bearing the legend "Groghan" and the reverse "Hunter". The gold grip is rectangular in cross section, with the obverse bearing a raised panel "Sandusky" surrounded by rays. The reverse is a plain raised panel surrounded by acanthus leaves. The sides of the grip are each decorated with 13 five pointed stars. The ovoid pommel is chased with acanthus leaves, the obverse bearing an oval panel with "U. S." and the reverse a raised American shield with "1813" in the field. The fluted gilt brass scabbard utilizes solid gold mounts. The upper with two vertical lines or arrow flechettes with acanthus leaf panels. One ring and the mounting stud are missing. The lower mount with an arrow like central theme terminating in a leaf/scroll motif. A truly elegant and refined gold mounted sword presented by the Congress and the President of the United States to a heroic American officer for one of the more remarkable defensive actions of the War of 1812.

    CONDITION: The blade retains much of the luster with just some scattered staining. The hilt is excellent with just some light scratches and a few tiny dings, really very minor. The body of the scabbard is excellent with just a few very minor dents, retaining 95% of the original gilt. The gold mounts also display just some minor scattered dents with some crimping at the bottom of the drag. One ring and mounting base missing from the top mount. Exceptional overall condition, especially in the context of the extremely fragile nature of these gold mounted swords.

    Provenance: Ames Book, Flayderman and 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: 902

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