Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3092: Fighting Bob Evans's M1852 Naval Officer's Sword

Auction Date: August 28, 2022

Historic B. Pasquale Co. Model 1852 Naval Officer's Sword and Scabbard Presentation Inscribed to Rear Admiral Robley D. "Fighting Bob" Evans when Commander of the Great White Fleet

Estimated Price: $15,000 - $25,000

Historic B. Pasquale Co. Model 1852 Naval Officer's Sword and Scabbard Presentation Inscribed to Rear Admiral Robley D. "Fighting Bob" Evans when Commander of the Great White Fleet

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
Item Views: 408
Item Interest: Average
Catalog Page: 74
Class: Other

The sword is a classic Model 1852 Navy Officer sword with a 30 inch blade with frosted patriotic etching, "PROVED/+" surrounded by a six pointed star on the right ricasso, and "B./PASQUALE/CO./SAN/FRANCISCO/CAL." etched on the left ricasso. The gilt brass hilt has oak leaf and acorn, laurels, sea serpents, four rose colored stones where the knuckle guard meets the pommel, and a fouled anchor with blue enamel background flanked by two white enamel stars with inset clear stones on the pommel cap. The black leather scabbard has gilt brass fittings with sea serpent, naval ropes, fouled anchor, and foliate decoration, as well as "Presented to/COMRADE ROBLEY D. EVANS./BY HEINTZELMAN POST AND DATUS E. COON POST. G.A.R./BENNINGTON CAMP US. W.V. AND/JOHN H. MORGAN CAMP/CONFEDERATE VETERANS/SAN DIEGO CAL. APRIL 14. 1908." A copy of LIFE Vol. XXXI No. 811 from June 23, 1898, is included showing Captain Robley on the cover with his arms crossed and armed to the teeth with a cutlass, pistol, Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 style revolver, knife, and a similar Model 1852 sword. Also included are a 13 3/8 by 24 5/8 inch framed display with two stereo cards of the USS Iowa, a portrait of Evans as a rear admiral holding a Model 1852 sword, and a card signed from Evans as captain and commander of the Iowa and a copy of the July 12, 1980, bill of sale indicates this sword (listed as "from Heintzelman Post and Datus E. Coon Post G.A.R. by the Veterans of the Confederacy") and the Iowa presentation sword also in the auction were sold by W.L. Kallos and Carol R. Kallos to Joseph Florest. Documentation relating to Florest's research on this sword and the other in the sale are in the Evans memorbilia lot in this sale. William L. Kallos (d. 2003) was a noted collector and dealer from Illinois. Rear Admiral Robley Dunglison Evans (1846-1912) had a long U.S. Navy military career from the American Civil War up to very shortly after the presentation of this sword when he was the commander of the Great White Fleet sent by President Theodore Roosevelt on its famous world tour. Evans was born in Virginia but remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War. After studying at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, starting in 1860, he completed his studies in time to join the fight for the Union. As an ensign serving on the USS Powhatan, he participated in the Second Battle of Fort Fisher and suffered four wounds during the U.S. Marines' charge on the Confederate defenses. He took a shot across his chest, then below his left knee, another through the knee that put him down, and a fourth that took off the tip of one of his toes, but he wrote that he pulled his revolver and engaged the Confederate sharpshooter that had been targeting him and shot him through the throat. In the hospital, his life was in jeopardy, and a surgeon suggested amputation. Instead of allowing them to amputate, he drew his revolver and said he'd kill six men before he'd let them take his leg. This incident was captured in a song composed in his honor upon his death by the Benztown Bard titled "Fighting Bob Evans Gone" which included the lines "Fighting Bob Evans dead? Honor his sword! Fighting Bob Evans gone? How can it be! Weep for him, wailing winds; weep for him, sea! Weep for the noble lad there at Fort Fisher. Standing the doctors off; coming a swisher With that old revolver aide dead in their faces, and daring them one and all to come twenty paces To cut any leg off that he owned!" He and his leg both survived but the injuries led to him being medically discharged. However, he recovered enough to rejoin the navy and serve for several more decades. His post-Civil War career took him all over the world. As the commander of the USS Yorktown in the Pacific Squadron, he earned his nickname "Fighting Bob" during the 1891 Chilean Civil War during the USS Baltimore incident that nearly led to war with Chile and coolly managed the situation without escalation. In 1897, he commanded the USS Iowa, including in the action during the Battle of Santiago. After the Spanish-American War, he remained with the navy and was promoted to rear admiral and commander-in-chief of the Asiatic and then North Atlantic Fleets before serving as commander of the Great White Fleet on its famous international tour. He was in command on board the USS Connecticut when the fleet of sixteen of battleships embarked from Hampton Roads, Virginia, on December 16, 1907. This sword was presented after the fleet had traveled down and around the Cape of Horn and up to San Diego which they reached on April 14, 1908, the date on the inscription. In his memoir "An Admiral's Log" (copy also with the memorbilia in Lot 3093) on page 447 he wrote, "Admiral Thomas received for me the beautiful jewelled box containing the key to the city gates and the freedom of the city, and also the sword presented by the Grand Army posts of southern California and the Morgan Post Confederate Veterans. God bless you, old white heads! That sword will make me feel a little moist about the eyes as long as I live." Due to his poor health, Evans was forced to hand over command of the expedition to Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry in May 1908. He retired later that summer on August 18, his 62nd birthday, after over four decades of service to his country. He passed away less than four years later on January 3, 1912, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His son, Captain Franck Taylor Evans, carried on his father's legacy as a naval officer and served from 1898 when he completed his studies at the naval academy until 1930.

Rating Definition:

Excellent overall. Nearly all of the original gold and silver plating remains overall. The excellent blade has some oxidation in the etching but is otherwise mostly bright and has attractive original frosting for a background. The scabbard and grip are excellent. The framed display is very fine and has some minor storage wear. This is a rare historic U.S. Navy officer's sword presented to "Fighting Bob" Evans at in California when he was the commander of the Great White Fleet's international tour.

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