Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1173: Colonel H.T. Sisson's Civil War Gilt Presentation Officer Sword

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Historic Civil War Hamilton Ruddick Gilt Presentation Officer's Sword Inscribed to Henry Tillinghast Sisson with Pearl Grips and Scabbard

Estimated Price: $9,000 - $12,000

Historic Civil War Hamilton Ruddick Gilt Presentation Officer's Sword Inscribed to Henry Tillinghast Sisson with Pearl Grips and Scabbard

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
Item Views: 297
Catalog Page: 128
Class: Other

This sword is inscribed "Col. H.T. Sisson/5th R.I. Vols/From Friends of Mass. 44th/in toke of/their respect and gratitude/Aug. 1863." on the reverse languet. This sword is represented in fine detail on the statue by Henri Schonhardt c. 1919 at Colonel Henry Tillinghast Sisson's (1831-1910) grave in Commons Cemetery in Little Compton, Rhode Island, and is likely the sword he is holding in a Civil War portrait. Sisson studied at the Gorham Academy in Maine and the University Grammar School in Providence, Rhode Island, and was active in the state militia in the antebellum era. He was also the inventor of the still widely used three-ring binder in 1859. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted as the lieutenant and paymaster for the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, a three-month unit like so many at the beginning of the war when the war was widely assumed to be quickly resolved. They fought at the First Battle of Bull Run. He was then appointed captain in the First Rhode Island Artillery late that year and joined the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery as a major in early 1862 and was in command of Companies B, F, and K at the Battle of Secessionville on June 16, 1862, in South Carolina. He resigned to raise new recruits and was promoted to colonel in November 1863. He took command of the 5th Rhode Island Infantry and arrived at New Berne at the beginning of 1863 and took command of Fort Totten. They were previously engaged in the Burnside Expedition and then remained to hold the captured territory. This unit became the 5th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery on May 27, 1863. They defended New Berne, Little Washington, and Roanoke Island in North Carolina from May 1863 through May of 1865. His men defeated multiple Confederate attacks and ended the siege on Little Washington. Sisson went home on medical leave in October of 1864 and officially mustered out on June 26, 1865. He became wealthy in manufacturing and later served as lieutenant governor of Rhode Island in 1875-1877 under Republican Governor Henry Lippitt. During the Spanish-American War, he led a group of the citizens of Little Compton desiring to form a company to defend Rhode Island. Includes an original copy of the "New Berne Monument Commission of Providence Plantations: Report made to the General Assembly of Rhode Island." This detailed report covers the commission and erection of a monument dedicated to Rhode Island's volunteers to the Union Army located at the New Bern National Cemetery. Col. Sisson is referenced in the report on page 15. Hamilton Ruddick was listed as a manufacturer of swords and machinist in Boston during the Civil War. Swords with his markings are rather rare compared to many of the era's other dealers and manufacturers. The sword has a 30 3/4 inch, straight, central fullered blade with patriotic etching including a boat and fort scene, martial trophies, and a guardian angel/Victoria/Nike standing on a beast on the obverse and "UNION," an eagle, and a soldier loading a rifle-musket on the reverse. The reverse ricasso also has an etched "H. RUDDICK/BOSTON" maker's mark. The gilt brass hilt has a star over Columbia's shield and martial trophied on the obverse languet, acanthus scroll, and other floral patterns, mother of pearl grip scales, a gilt chain knuckle guard, and ornate pommel nut. The gilt scabbard has busts of a helmeted classical figure (likely Mars/Ares) and Liberty on the suspension bands and floral, scroll, and martial patterns.

Rating Definition:

Very fine with strong original gilt finish on the hilt and scabbard, some fading on the body of the scabbard, distinct designs throughout, mostly bright blade with some mild pitting, some repairs visible in the pearl scales, and generally mild age and storage related wear overall.

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