Confederate Field and Staff Officer’s Sword Made at the Confederate States Armory by Louis Froelich
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Confederate Field and Staff Officer’s Sword Made at the Confederate States Armory by Louis Froelich - This rare, iconic sword was made by Louis Froelich, in Kenansville, North Carolina. Although named the Confederate States Armory, Froelich’s factory was not a Confederate government operation, but privately owned and operated; here, Froelich made pikes, buttons, saber bayonets, navy and artillery cutlasses, belts, knapsacks, cap boxes, cartridge boxes and swords for North Carolina, the Confederate government and for private sale. According to noted Confederate expert and author, Shannon Pritchard – “The Confederate States Armory is believed to have been the second largest sword manufactory in the Confederacy. Froelich’s cavalry swords, bayonets and cutlasses are all referred to as Kenansville products, taking their name from the place of manufacture rather than the maker’s name.” An exception to the aptly named Kenansville swords mentioned by Pritchard, this uniquely designed staff and field officer’s is the only Kenansville sword that is graced with the name of its manufacturer.
The iconic and highly prized, large CSA in the counterguard is indicative of a sword designated for field and staff officer use, specifically to be carried only by officers with the rank of major and above. Due to the travail and necessities of war, it is certainly possible that Confederate officers of lesser rank could have carried this type of sword, as well.
This rare example of a Froelich field and staff officer’s sword has an etched blade; according to John McAden, Jr. and Chris Fonvielle, Jr.’s definitive work, Louis Froelich – Arms Maker to the Confederacy, there are likely less than ten extant specimens of this etched blade type of Froelich. The blade etching, again in the opinion of Shannon Pritchard, is seemingly almost identical to the work of the etcher utilized by famed Confederate sword manufacturers, Boyle and Gamble. Pritchard suggests that this may account for the extreme rarity of etched blade Froelich swords. The blade is in strong condition. (*Please Note: as of this writing, Perry Adams Antiques has had highly respected sword conservator, Jim Brown, carefully clean the blade, so that now, the blade appears bright and the etching highly visible. The pictures of the conserved blade will be uploaded as soon as possible – at the time this description was written, we had not had an opportunity to photograph the conserved blade.)
Approximately, 80% to 85% of the leather grip wrap remains in tact; the wooden grip proper does exhibit an age, shrinkage crack, commonly found in many Civil War period swords. All of the original wire wrap remains in place, and, overall, the grip is solid and tight. The guard exhibits a pleasing patina matched by that of the brass scabbard fittings. Most of the leather gasket remains around the upper ricasso, as well. The guard appears to be benchmarked with a V, as well as three I’s, the latter positioned somewhat distal to the V marking; the scabbard throat is benchmarked VIII. Whether these two benchmarks actually match is conjectural, but the scabbard is unquestionably original and was originally constructed for this sword. The drag is most intriguing – apparently, during the period of use, the it was either broken or lost, so the original owner had rather skilled tinsmith ingeniously construct a tinned iron, cold soldered drag, which retains much of its original black paint.
This is simply a superb example of a fine, rare Confederate sword.