This is a circa 1810-1840 militia officer's saber descended from the Stevens family, featuring a curved blade with three gold inlayed designs engraved towards the ricasso. The obverse designs feature acanthus leaves followed by a patriotic panoply topped with a liberty cap, and another panoply of drums, cannons, and a shield topped by a liberty cap. The reverse also features acanthus leaves and patriotic panoply. The designs lead to an unmarked ricasso that is followed by a brass hilt with a plain guard and knuckle bow that is cast with foliate motifs. The grip features a grooved, center-swelled bone handle with a plain backstrap and a bird head pommel. The sword is complete with its scabbard which is constructed of brass and features two carry rings. The screw towards the top of the scabbard is missing. The blade exhibits a dark gray patina with areas of heavy pitting towards the tip, which has dulled. The hilt exhibits a pleasing mustard patina, and the grip has a slight wiggle. The scabbard also exhibits a mustard patina with scattered dents throughout its length. Overall, in very good condition. The sword comes with a small binder of research and signed letters from the family of Dr. Stevens. This is a nice early sword that is attributed to well established Confederate officer who was present at some of the most significant battles of the Civil War.
An affidavit from the family states the sword was descended from Dr. John H. Stevens, who served as a surgeon in the C.S. Army of Northern Virginia at the regimental, brigade, division and corps level. He may have entered service carrying a family sword, but it could well have been his own if he had prewar militia service. Born in Virginia, during the year 1824, John Horace Stevens received a medical degree from University of Virginia in 1846 and in 1848 worked for a time in a Philadelphia hospital. In May 1861 he was appointed Surgeon of the 2nd Louisiana in the Confederate army. The unit served in the Army of Northern Virginia, seeing action on the Peninsula in Cobb’s brigade, near Richmond at the Seven Days’ Battle, but did not see much action until July at Malvern Hill, where the unit regiment lost 182 soldiers, wounded and killed, with Stevens as senior brigade surgeon, at Lee’s Mills and Malvern Hill. The 2nd Louisiana then joined Starke’s 2nd Louisiana Brigade in July 1862, seeing action at Second Manassas and Antietam. Later in April 1863, Stevens was listed as chief surgeon of Nichols’s brigade. In May, the regiment fought with Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville, where they lost more than 100 men. Later that summer, the 2nd Louisiana was present at Gettysburg and participated in the attack on Culp’s Hill. By April 1864, Stevens was acting as chief surgeon of Johnson’s division, becoming chief surgeon of Gordon’s division. In July 1864 he was serving as such under General Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley, later becoming the medical director of the division by January 1865, as well as Surgeon and Medical Inspector of the entire Second Corps, Gordon’s, by April 1865. He was then captured and paroled. He reportedly served in the Louisiana state legislature, married in 1869, and moved to Texas about 1870 where he worked as both farmer and physician. Stevens died in 1881, in Dallas County, “after returning from a pleasant ride.” He is buried in Pioneer Park in downtown Dallas and a photo of his grave marker is included that details his military service.
Inventory Number: SWO 199 / SOLD