This beautiful Tiffany & Co. embellished Civil War saber has highly detailed etching on the 35 inch curved blade that includes scrolls, martial motifs, a Zouave on the right, "TIFFANY/& Co.N.Y." on the right side above the "1861" dated ricasso, and an officer on the left. The left ricasso has "COLLINS & CO/HARTFORD/CONN." The gilt brass hilt has a red base washer, floral designs on the knuckle guard and pommel, a spread wing eagle and shield motif on the back of the quillon, and a shagreen wrapped grip with brass wire. The scabbard has a gilded body inscribed "Presented to/Capt. C.W. McLain/by the Members of Co. D. Merrills Horse/March 1st 1863" between the bands and silver plated mouthpiece, bands, and drag engraved with floral designs and "US" on the upper band. The Merrill's Horse was a Union cavalry regiment originally raised under Major General John C. Fremont in the Western Department based in St. Louis and named for Colonel Lewis Merrill, a veteran of the 2nd U.S. Dragoons, who organized the unit in 1861 at St. Louis and also served as Colonel and Chief of Cavalry Staff for Fremont. They initially were engaged in the bloody and difficult actions against Confederate guerrillas and irregular Confederate cavalry units in northern Missouri. They were recognized for their aggressive action and effective suppression of the Confederate guerrillas. "The Merrill Horse or the Guerrillas Conquered" was written by William M. Harlow to commemorate their success in 1863. Merrill, then a general, also received a Tiffany & Co. sword in 1863 from Missouri Unionists. As the war raged on, they were also engaged in fighting regular Confederate cavalry, and later in the war, were called upon again to counter Confederate irregulars, this time in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee. They were officially designated as the 2nd Missouri Volunteer Cavalry after Fremont was replaced by Major General Henry Halleck, but they continued to be best known and regularly reported as the Merrill's Horse. Captain Calvin W. McLain (c. 1827-1892) was born in Marysville, Ohio and is buried in the Diamond Grove Cemetery in Jacksonville, Illinois. In some records his surname is spelled McLean. He served in Company D of the regiment and mustered in as a first lieutenant and was commissioned as captain on October 24, 1862, with rank to the beginning of that month after Captain JW. Baird of Company D was killed in action on September 6th near Glasgow, Missouri, in battle with guerrillas while leading Company D and was struck in the femoral artery. McLain and the other men then charged the enemy avenging their fallen leader who reportedly fired his revolver twice at the enemy after being hit. McLain was promoted again to major on November 17, 1864. When his company presented him this sword, the Merrill's Horse was assigned to the District of Northeast Missouri in the Department of Missouri. After the war, he lived in Jacksonville, Illinois, and was a member of the Board of Education. Later, he was an agent for the Wabash Railroad in Chicago. He lived at the Soldiers and Sailors Veterans Home in Adams County, Illinois, in the final few years of his life and is listed a resident of Cook County at the time of his admission.
Exceptionally fine. The very fine blade retains distinct etching, mostly bright surfaces with minimal wear, and some isolated faint pitting. The hilt retains traces of original gilding in the protected recesses and otherwise displays attractive natural aged patina. The grip has mild handling wear and remains sold. The scabbard has been re-gilded and has some faded areas on the lower section, aged patina on the silver mounts, crisp inscription and designs, and minor scratches and dings. Overall, this is a very attractive and fine Civil War presentation sword presented during the middle of the war by a decorated cavalry unit to one of their captains.
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