Presentation grade Model 1850 Foot Officer’s Sword manufactured by C. Roby & Co. of West Chelmsford, Massachusetts. The brass guard is a high-grade variety with the addition of decorative lines, floral motifs and a patriotic shield. The sharkskin grip is in good condition and tightly bound. The blade is bright with some light, scattered pitting and exhibits elegant, frosted foliate designs, a spread winged eagle gripping olive branches and arrows, and a panoply of arms with “U.S” in bold letters. The center of the blade on one side bears the etching “Presented to lieut. John W. Fiske. 58th Regiment Mass. Vet. Vols.” The opposite side is etched “By his friends, April 1864.” The original leather washer is still present as the ricasso. The sword is complete with a steel scabbard with brass mountings.
John W. Fiske was a 20-year-old clerk when he enlisted in August 1862 as a corporal in the 35th Massachusetts Infantry. In March 1864 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 58th Massachusetts. He carried this sword throughout Grant’s Overland Campaign, and suffered a severe gunshot wound to the right hip at the Battle of Spotsylvania. He returned to duty by mid-August and was killed in action at the Battle of Peebles’ Farm (Poplar Grove Church) outside of Petersburg, Virginia. The lot includes a printed copy of the 58th Massachusetts regimental history, photocopies of muster rolls, casualty sheets, and a leave of absence request by Fiske after his wounding.
There are also two printed pages from the Dedham, Massachusetts Historical Register 1892 regarding Fiske. “On the evening of April 20th, a pleasant gathering was held at East Dedham, when Lieut. John W. Fiske of the 58th Mass. Infantry, formerly a Sergeant of Co. 1, 35th Mass., was presented by his friends with a sword, sash and belt. Many citizens of the town were present, and Col. Eliphalet Stone made the presentation address, which was fittingly responded to by Lieut. Fiske. The sword was first in action May 6th and was bravely carried all through the bloody campaigns of the 58th, until the heroic bearer met a soldier's death on the 30th of September 1864. In this engagement at Poplar Spring Church, First Lieutenant John W. Fiske of the 58th Mass. Infantry, formerly a sergeant in Co. I, of the 35th, was killed and buried on the field. Lieut. Fiske was born in Mansfield, Mass., Jan. 1, 1842. He was a graduate of the Dedham High School, and enlisted Aug. 16, 1862, in Co. I, 35th Regiment, Mass. Infantry; was appointed corporal in 1862, sergeant in March 1863; and was regimental color sergeant for a time; on January 26, 1864, he was promoted second lieutenant in the 58th Mass. Infantry, and first lieutenant August 8, 1864. While with the 35th he was in the battles of South Mountain, and Antietam, Md., Fredericksburg, Va., Vicksburg, and Jackson, Miss., and after joining the 58th was at the Wilderness, Va., Spotsylvania, where he was severely wounded, siege of Petersburg, and at Poplar Spring Church, Va., Sept. 30, 1864, where his long and gallant career as a soldier was ended.”
Fiske’s aforementioned sword belt is a high-quality officer’s pattern with cast brass, gilt 1851 officer’s pattern eagle belt buckle. The folded and stitched leather belt has taken on a dark brown hue and remains in very good condition, with shield shaped sash protector and both sword hangers with brass clasps. This is a fantastic grouping from a young Union officer killed in action.
John W. Fiske - Residence Dedham MA; a 20-year-old Clerk. Enlisted on 8/7/1862 at Dedham, MA as a Corporal. On 8/16/1862 he mustered into "I" Co. MA 35th Infantry. He was discharged for promotion on 3/8/1864. On 3/30/1864 he was commissioned into "B" Co. MA 58th Infantry. He was Killed on 9/30/1864 at Poplar Grove Church, VA. He was listed as: Wounded 5/12/1864 Spotsylvania Court House, VA. Promotions: 2nd Lieut 3/8/1864 (As of Co. B 58th MA Infantry) 1st Lieut 8/8/1864 (Not Mustered).
Inventory Number: SWO 219 / SOLD