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Selling: April 30, 2016

Lot 1068: Historic Cased Civil War Era Ball, Tompkins &

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Historic Cased Civil War Era Ball, Tompkins & Black Sword, Presented by the Governor of Illinois to General John Cook for Gallant Action at the Siege of Fort Donelson
Estimated Price: $20,000 - $30,000
Serial #Historic Cased Civil War Era Ball, Tompkins & ManufacturerNone ModelNone
TypeOther Gauge Catalog Page48
Barrel Finish Grip
Stock ClassOther RatingSee Condition
DescriptionMeasuring 37 3/4 inches in overall length. The gently curved single fuller blade measures 31 1/4 inches, with the final third finished in satin gray with bright edge and spine, and the lower two thirds decorated in a mixture of satin gray and nitre blue fields with gold washed edge, spine and etching, featuring floral, scroll and martial motifs overall, a museum inventory number "1973" painted on the right ricasso, the merchant marking "BALL/TOMPKINS/& BLACK/247/Broad Way/NEW YORK" on the left ricasso, and an 8 1/4 inch panel scene of a river valley on the left side. The silver plated guard is kidney-shaped, with the curvature on the left side, "18" stamped near the right ricasso, a beaded border and engraved and repoussed scroll designs with a dot textured background on the reverse. The grip is constructed from a single piece and sculpted in the form of a Roman legionnaire, with the pommel consisting of the legionnaire's head , sculpted with a horse hair plumed helmet and fine facial features, and the main body of the grip consisting of the torso, with a set of lorica squamata (scale mail) partially covered by a short cloak. Overall, the ergonomics of the hilt are very well laid out, with the curvature of the guard permitting an easy fit of the sword to the body while in the scabbard as well as providing clearance for the thumb when held, and the scale pattern (similar to that found on the 1840 foot artillery sword) and light flaring of the hilt would provide excellent traction and retention qualities when used. The scabbard is finished to match the hilt, with "18" stamped on the reverse and "1973.1" added museum-style to the obverse, a finely sculpted drag, fine scroll and floral engraving on approximately two-thirds of the surface, and a raised panel between the suspension rings inscribed "Presented by Governor Rich Yates on behalf of/the State of Illinois to Genl John Cook for/gallant conduct at Fort Donelson/1862". Included with the sword is an American officer's belt ("1973.2" museum-style on rear of rectangular buckle) and a fine hardwood case ("1973.3" on front) with "Genl John Cook" on a silver plated lid plaque, an engraved silver plate on the inside with the merchant marks of Ball, Tompkins & Black, a French-cut pocket for the sword in its scabbard, and a lidded compartment for the belt. The son of Daniel Pope Cook, Illinois politician and namesake of modern Cook County, John Cook started his career as a lawyer in Springfield and eventually became two-term Mayor and the Sheriff of Sangamon County. During this time, he developed a professional and personal relationship with fellow Springfield lawyer and future President Abraham Lincoln, for whom he would often campaign, and established the Zouave Greys drill team. At the time of Lincoln's election to the top office, Cook was the Quartermaster General of Illinois, a position he resigned at the outbreak of the Civil War, so he could take on the task of raising a volunteer regiment, the first contributed by Illinois to the defense of the Union. Numbered the 7th Infantry out of respect for the six Illinois regiments that marched for the Mexican-American War, Colonel Cook's men originally signed on for a three month term, but when it became clear that the wear would be no quick matter, they re-mustered for a three year term. Attached to General Ulysses S. Grant's forces which would later be dubbed the "District of Cairo" and the "Army of the Tennessee", the Illinois men saw action at Belmont (one of the first actions to put future President Grant in the public eye), Shiloh (the bloodiest battle of the Civil War until Gettysburg), Fort Henry (which opened the Tennessee river for Union gunboat assault deeper south) and Fort Donelson. Donelson as a moment of particular distinction for both Grant and Cook. A siege action against an entrenched Confederate stronghold, the action around the fort lasted for several days in the middle of February of 1862, where Union forces faced a fortification with enough firepower to drive off their gunboat support, reinforced with many of the survivors from Fort Henry, and did so without the benefit of much of their artillery or winter gear. Placed in charge of General C.F. Smith's brigades for the action, Cook and his men were assembled towards the left of the Union line, performed probing attacks and spent several nights without benefit of fire due to their proximity to enemy artillery. On the 15th, following a heavy attack on the Union right during a Confederate breakout attempt, General Grant gave the order for Smith's brigades to directly assault the Fort. The punched through the outer lines of fortifications and claimed them for the Union. While the brigade of Colonel Laumann made the direct assault, Colonel Cook's men ran diversionary maneuvers and protected Laumann's right flank, exposing themselves to a great deal of enemy fire; one captured rebel trooper interviewed by Cook claimed to have personally taken seventeen shots at the mounted officer, who had lost three horses over the course of the battle. That night, the Confederates determined that the cause was lost, with some estimating that the fort would only last a half-hour against another assault by Smith. In what can only be described as a farce of leadership, the Confederate commander General Floyd resigned his command and fled, while his successor, General Pillow, did exactly the same, leaving General Buckner to surrender the fort. An old service comrade of Grant, Buckner was optimistic that terms could be reached, and set a note on the morning of the 16th. Grant felt differently, and his response was unambiguous; "Sir: Yours of this date proposing Armistice, and appointment of Commissioners, to settle terms of Capitulation is just received. No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.". It was no bluff, as Smith, Laumann and Cook were in prime position to skip all preamble and kick the proverbial doors right off their hinges. Left holding the bag by his superiors Buckner had no choice but to yield. The victory was hailed as a resounding success, with over 12,000 Confederate troops captured, the Cumberland River opened for assault, and the capital at Nashville evacuated, the first Confederate capital to face that fate. Famous nationwide, "Unconditional Surrender" Grant and his subordinates saw many honors and promotions; Cook received a promotion to Brigadier General. Separating from Grant and the 7th Illinois, General Cook as placed in command of fortifications outside of Washington, D.C., and in command the Military District of Illinois. While serving in that last role, Cook received word of the tragic events at Ford's Theater, and the loss of his old colleague President Lincoln. Traveling to Washington, Cook served as part of the honor guard for the funeral train that took the fallen President's body home to Springfield and finally from the State Capitol to his final resting place in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Leaving the service in 1865 as a permanent Brigadier General of Volunteers and a brevet Major General. Cook returned to private life in Springfield, but he returned to service briefly in the 1870s and 1880s as the Indian Agent at the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota where he came into contact with Buffalo Bill Cody and several future members of his Wild West Show. Retiring to Michigan, General Cook passed on in 1910. After the General's passing, the sword and it's accessories were presented to the State of Illinois by one of his surviving grandchildren without the knowledge or consent of his children, a situation that was not resolved until 1971 when the sword was returned to his one surviving child with the addition of the museum-style inventory markings described above. Included with the lot is a large quantity of information on the General and his life, including photocopies of a book written by his surviving child, co

ConditionExceptionally fine. All elements of the blade decoration are in top shape with vivid color and only the lightest handling marks. Traces of well aged silver are present on both the hilt and scabbard, chiefly in the protected areas, with gently aged metal on the remainder and fine detail in the decoration. The belt is poor and shows the rigors of age and use, tears in a few locations, and a dark patina on the buckle. The exterior of the case is refinished with some scattered dents and scuffs. The left latch is incomplete, missing retention stud. Unique, Historic Civil War presentation sword connected to a major turning point in the conflict.
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