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  • 1850 Foot Officer’s Sword Presented to Fitch Taylor Birdsall 20th Connecticut Infantry

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    1850 Foot Officer’s Sword Presented to Fitch Taylor Birdsall 20th Connecticut Infantry - Inventory Number: SWO 198

    A very nice example of a presentation grade Ames M1850 foot officer’s sword. The presentation is located on the upper mount and reads “Presented to Lieut. Fitch Taylor Birdsall 20th Regt. C.V. by his associate clerks at Winship & Barney’s New Haven Sep. 2d 1862.” The blade is bright with scattered areas of pitting and exhibits elegant, frosted designs. The obverse features foliate scrolls which lead to a banner that reads “E Pluribus Unum” which flows above a classic Ames spread winged eagle, gripping olive branches and arrows. Beneath the eagle is a panoply of arms and bunting followed by more thin foliate scrolls leading up the maker marking which reads “Ames Mfg. Co.  Chicopee Mass.” nicely etched into the blade just above the ricasso. The reverse exhibits similar thin foliate scrolls, a panoply of arms and bunting, followed by the letters “U.S.” which replace the eagle. More foliate scrolls follow leading up to decorative patterns just above the ricasso. The shark skin grip is in excellent condition and tightly bound. The sword is complete with its leather scabbard in solid condition that is marked “AMES MFG. CO.  CHICOPEE MASS”. Constructed of a leather body, the scabbard features brass mounts, two carry rings, and a brass drag. The guard retains much of its gilt and exhibits a few aged spots. The sword is accompanied by a binder of research on Birdsall. This is a very attractive presentation sword.

    Born in New York in 1840, Fitch Taylor Birdsall was working as a clerk in the prominent New Haven, Connecticut dry goods firm of Winship and Barney when he enlisted on August 15, 1862 and was commissioned 1st Lieutenant, Company G of the 20th Connecticut Volunteers on September 8, 1862. The regiment was organized in response to Lincoln’s June 1862 call for 300,000 more troops and was quickly dispatched to Washington, from where it was sent to Frederick, Maryland, then on to Harpers Ferry and assigned to the 12th Army Corps. It saw its first action in a skirmish with Confederate cavalry at Keys Gap but avoided the disaster of Fredericksburg by assignment to duty at Fairfax Station and Stafford Court House, seeing its first serious action at Chancellorsville in May 1863. Birdsall was one of several officers who left service before that, resigning February 10, 1863, for, according to documents, reasons of ill health, which was not uncommon considering the conditions of disease-ridden camps, and seems to have moved back to New York. The New York 1863 draft registration finds him living with brother Samuel, who served in the 27th Connecticut as Captain, but was captured and paroled at Chancellorsville, exchanged later, and mustered out to date of the muster out of the regiment on July 23, 1865, (with apparent state brevets to Colonel and Brigadier General.) He is listed as living with his brothers and sisters in New York in 1865, and met his end in May 1871, while attempting to swim to shore from the Steamboat Connecticut near Hastings, New York.

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    Inventory Number: SWO 198