Our youngest is a full-time college
student. But he’s also an Iraq combat veteran and National
Guardsman who, in addition to his line-unit duties, supervises a
regional Honor Guard team performing color guard honors and
veteran’s funeral details over a wide area of a large, western
NCOIC’s of such details are authorized swords with the
dress uniform, and we thought a presentation sword would be an
excellent gift upon his promotion to Sergeant.
So I looked at the current crop of
new-made ceremonial swords sold by today’s uniform and insignia
companies, and after examining the plated, soft-stainless
blades, the scabbards assembled with staples and imagining how
long the thin gold plating would survive frequent use, rather
quickly came to the conclusion that rehabilitating an original
sword would be a much better value for what will become his
first family heirloom.
I don’t pretend to know much about
swords, but as a trained gunsmith specializing mostly in
restorations as a sideline these past 40 years, I take
particular pleasure in restoring the broken and abused pieces
rejected by collectors to some degree of their former glory. I
don’t try to make them look new, but like a piece that was
well-used but also well-cared-for, which mostly involves undoing
previous, heavy-handed repair and refinishing attempts.
Hence when I found this abused
Henderson-Ames M1860 Staff and Field Officer’s Sword with
well-dinged and badly-corroded hilt and scabbard, broken guard
pins, bent and cracked quillon, and a stained and burred blade,
I bought it. While the M1840 NCO Sword is the most common in use
today, the M1860 patterns also included a model for staff NCO’s
which is perfectly acceptable today, and this jewel is
sufficiently close to the NCO pattern not to matter.
What makes this one a jewel are the
National Guard and “by-the-bootstraps” mustang connections.
Emmett P. Greene was born in 1856, and was a common stonecutter
in Atchison, Kansas. He volunteered to serve with the 22nd
Kansas Volunteer Regiment during the Spanish-American War, one
of four volunteer regiments raised in Kansas.
While the 20th
Kansas fought in 18 major engagements in the Philippines during
1898-99, and the 23rd Kansas performed occupation duty in Cuba,
the 21st and 22nd Kansas regiments were held in reserve in the
United States, the 22nd at Camp Alger, near Falls Church,
Virginia, where it was ravaged by typhoid fever.
regiments returned to Kansas by late 1899, they soon evolved
into the newly-formed “National Guard” established by The
Militia Act of 1903 passed by the US Congress. State and local
militias and volunteer units now had a national underpinning,
and E. P. Greene by then age 47 was made a company commander in
the new 1st Kansas Infantry Regiment at Atchison. The sword was
a farewell gift at the end of his tour as a commander circa
1903-1906, undoubtedly paid for by passing the hat among the
troops of Company L.
While departure gifts from the
officers of the regiment were (and are) common, a gift from the
noncoms and troops is not, and what makes this gift especially
poignant is the engraving appears to have been done by the
company armorer… perhaps for want of additional funds. While
executed using a professional’s graver and mallet, the
well-executed layout and branch decorations on a difficult,
concave surface… combined with unfair curves, loops and
squiggles demonstrate a certain native talent and care
struggling with a distinct lack of training and practice.