Confederate Kenansville Cavalry Saber



Confederate Kenansville Cavalry Saber – This saber is a very good example of an edged weapon manufactured at the famed Kenansville, North Carolina, Confederate sword manufactory. Research indicates that this type of sword was one of the most well and prolifically produced from Froelich or the Confederate States Arms Factory. This example remains in fine condition; the blade exhibits a nice, gray-aged appearance and does not show any nicks in the cutting edge. There is a single, unstopped fuller; the original, leather washer, just beneath the quillon, remains in place. The scabbard is constructed of lap-seamed, sheet iron, with brass sword mounts and iron rings and a brass throat; the drag is iron and evidences some outdoor use. The scabbards were occasionally japanned black or finished in the brown, then lacquered, as evidenced by the traces of a reddish hue on this scabbard. There are three shallow dents in the scabbard, apparently incurred during the period of use; these make it somewhat difficult to withdraw the blade from the scabbard; this can be readily ameliorated, but we have chosen to leave this as is, as these are part of the history of the sword and its wartime use. As with Froelich / Kenansville edged weapons, two elements are stamped with Roman numerals: the brass scabbard throat exhibits stamped, Roman numerals: “XXII”; the saber’s brass quillon’s edge is stamped with the following Roman numerals: “XXIII” – these stamps were so-called “mating” or bench marks; most often these do not match, as the throats were manufactured and riveted in place separately. The brass, two-branched knuckle bow, evidences some typical casting flaws and remains in excellent condition. The Phrygian helmet style pommel cap is plain, and the peen affixing the cap to the grip, remains undisturbed; the leather covering the wooden grip is complete and in good condition; the ten furrows in the grip contain the original, untwisted, plain copper wire. The brass quillon remains in excellent condition, also exhibiting some casting flaws.

Measurements: OL (in the scabbard) – 41.5”; Blade length – 35”; OL (sword out of the scabbard) – 40”

Courtesy – The College Hill Arsenal and Tim Prince:

In the fall of 1861, the company was renamed from the Wilmington Sword Works to the C.S.A. Arms Factory, which was also referred to as the Confederate States Arms Factory. On November 8, 1861 the vice president of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, visited the Froelich and Estvan factory while passing through Wilmington. Based upon period accounts, the vice-president was clearly impressed with what he saw.

Despite all of his setbacks and two major fires, Froelich managed to keep his manufactory in business through most of the war and was likely the most successful of the Confederate edged weapons makers of the American Civil War.

One of the most important products of Froelich’s Confederate States Arms Factory was the Enlisted Cavalry Saber. By some estimations Froelich produced some 12,000 of these swords during the course of the war. The sabers were generally considered well made, at least those produced after the spring of 1862, when the early production and rejection issues were resolved. The saber was modeled on the US Model 1840 Heavy Cavalry saber, which itself was based upon the French Pattern 1822 Cavalry Saber. The Froelich saber had a slightly curved steel blade that typically measured between 34 ½” and 35” in length, was roughly 1 3/16” wide at the ricasso, had a rounded spine and a wide central fuller. Like many southern made blades, the fuller was unstopped and typically measured between 26 and 27” in length. Fluctuating quality of available steel, as well as the varying quality of workmanship resulted in some blades showing obvious flaws. The overall length of the saber was typically between 40 ½” and 41”. The brass guard was sandcast with the knucklebow splitting into two branches at two different points, rather than the more common single point. As sources for the brass components varied, the color of the guard is not consistent between extant examples, ranging from a deep coppery red to more golden color. The pommel cap was plain and slightly rounded at the end. Flaws were often present in the cast guard and the face of the guard was typically left unpolished, showing the grain of the sand casting mold. The wood grip had between ten and twelve grooves and was covered in thin dark brown or black leather and was wrapped with a single strand of iron or brass wire. The sheet iron scabbards were lap seamed and brazed along their lower edges. Mounting were either iron or brass, including the throat, drag and ring mounts, while the suspension rings themselves were of iron. The upper right edge of the wide pointed quillon of the saber’s guard was sometimes marked with Roman numeral style bench or mating marks, as were some of the riveted scabbard throats, although these marks often do not match when encountered. The scabbards were often japanned black or browned with a lacquered finish that often appears to be more red than brown. An unreliable supply of available raw materials certainly affected the overall construction of the sabers and scabbards, leading to variations in the type of wire used on the grips, the mountings on the scabbards and the scabbard’s overall finish.