December 14-17, 2021 Collectible Firearms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 12/14/2021
Malek A. Southworth was born in New York in 1828, was licensed to practice medicine and surgery by age 20, and was made a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine in 1850. He moved to Texas and was operating a successful medical practice when The Civil War divided the nation in two. He received a CS commission as surgeon, under which he served for a time, but made his way to Mexico and from there to Union occupied New Orleans late in 1862 or early in 1863. He later said that he had been vocal against secession and had organized similarly minded neighbors to resist the draft, which would have been in Spring 1863. In New Orleans he must have made some impression on General Banks who appointed him surgeon of the 2nd Texas Cavalry U.S. at Brownsville on November 5, 1863. The regiment served at Brownsville and on the Rio Grande as part of the 13th Army Corps to June 1864 and then in the District of Morganza from June 1864. Southworth was on sick leave from June until August or September, when the regiment was consolidated with the 1st Texas Cavalry U.S., in the 2nd Separate Cavalry Brigade 19th Army Corps. The consolidated regiment saw service in operations around Morganza, at Williamsport, the Atchafalaya River, Davidson's expedition against the Mobile and Ohio railroad, and elsewhere. A 1907 obituary specifically mentions service in "Banks Expedition to western Texas, the taking of Brownville and Fort Brown . . . most of the engagements thereabouts, as well as on the march of General Davidson. . ." In May 1865 they were ordered to Mississippi, and then to Texas in July, where they mustered out in November. During reconstruction he was twice appointed by Sheridan as Resident Physician of Quarantine at New Orleans in the fight against Yellow Fever and in 1871 served as Surgeon General of Louisiana with the rank of brigadier general. He was active in the G.A.R., various fraternal organizations, and politics. He moved to California in 1893, where continued to practice medicine and died in 1907. Southworth did his best to downplay his Confederate service, maintaining he had received an unsolicited commission from Richmond as surgeon, sworn no oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, and used it to escape to Mexico, formally declining it from there and making his way to Union occupied New Orleans, where he joined the 2nd Texas Cavalry U.S. as surgeon. Fellow U.S. officers later maintained they found out that he had "exercised the functions of Surgeon in the Rebel Sibley Brigade in hostility to the United States. And that he wore the Rebel uniform whilst exercising the functions of said office." Confederate military service records are fragmentary, but support the accusation, listing him as present as a surgeon in the 4th Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers, also known as 1st Regiment Sibley's Brigade on 16 October 1861, but with no further record. His explanations, however, were apparently sufficient to Generals Banks, Sheridan, and to Congress in 1903, when he applied for an increase in his pension. In 1865, he fell afoul of his regimental commander, who proffered court-martial charges against him. Nothing seems to have come of this and he must have been well respected by noncommissioned officers and privates to have merited such a beautiful sword. The flashy staff and field sword is at the very least nothing short of a conversation piece. The presentation is located between the mounts and reads "Surgn M.A. Southworth / Presented by the / Non Commissioned Officers & Privates / of the 1st Texas Cavy. Vol's. / U.S.A." Manufactured by Horstmann, the sword is marked "WH / Horstmann & Sons / Philadelphia" on the ricasso and "Iron Proof" on the spine. The blade is beautifully gold washed and features elegantly detailed etched designs. Gold washed blades were usually reserved for the finest swords and are often decorated with the finest etchings further reflecting the evidence of respect that Southworth held from the men of his regiment. Following the Iron Proof marking, the spine features creeping vines that travel the length of the gold wash. The obverse blade features patriotic motifs of bunting and pole weapons, including halberds and spears. These are followed by elegant scrolls and a spread winged federal eagle with a banner that reads "E PLURIBUS UNUM" held high between its wings. After the eagle are foliate scrolls followed by a propped set of armor surrounded by weapons such as a sword and fasces. The reverse features similar motifs that start with more bunting which is flown over crossed cannons and sabers topped with a liberty cap. The same scrollwork flows towards the center where the scrolled letters "U.S." replace the federal eagle. The continued gold washed field leads up to floral vines that are wrapped around a banner flanked by two flags which rest behind more armor, a drum, and crossed cannons, ending with more vines and floral checkering just above the ricasso. The gold wash blends into the brass guard which also features elegant botanic scrollwork that surrounds the staff and field "US". The foliate scenes continue down to the pewter grip which features pillars of leaves and imitation scales that lead up to the underside of the guard which is engraved with petals imitating a blossoming flower. At the other end, the pillars meet more foliate scrolls which lead up to the domed pommel which resembles a blooming perennial. The designs continue on the equally ostentations brass silver finished scabbard that features decorative mounts and carry rings, as well as a brass drag. The scabbard is marked "DART & WATKINSON" on the throat. Each mount features cherry vines which branch to either side with foliate scrolls. The drag features similar motifs with swirling branches and scrollwork resembling an ornate pillar. CONDITION: The blade remains bright and retains most of the gold wash. There are areas of pitting that begin after the gold wash towards the tip and a few scattered areas of oxidation throughout the etchings. The guard and grip exhibit scattered areas of tarnishing but remain mostly clean. The scabbard exhibits wear, possibly from rubbing when on horseback. The finish has been rubbed away in several areas, and around the inscription. The mounts remain tight and the scabbard retains all of its original screws. The sword fits snugly in the scabbard and requires some force to remove/sheath the first few inches. This is a beautiful presentation sword that has been taken care of and continues to present elegantly. Overall very good. JLD
Blade Length
Overall Length
37 - 1/4"
Folder of Research
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $3,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $13,750.00
Estimate: $6,000 - $10,000
Number Bids: 11
Auction closed on Friday, December 17, 2021.
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