December 14-17, 2021 Collectible Firearms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 12/14/2021
A fine example of an inscribed presentation grade Model 1850 Staff and Field Officer’s Sword recorded to have been presented to Capt. W.B. Bingham, Company H, 44th Indiana on November 15, 1861. Bingham is by no means a written about or recognizable figure in history, however his role in the Civil War was significant, especially in the capture of Fort Donelson. William B. Bingham was born during the year 1819 in Pennsylvania and moved to Ohio with his family in 1828, working as a mail carrier and store clerk. In 1847, one year after Mexico passed the boundaries of the United States and tarnished relations by spilling American blood on the soil, Bingham enlisted in the US Army. He joined Company D, 4th Ohio Infantry, and saw action at Atlixco, Puebla, and Huamantla, all critical battles which aided with the expulsion of the Mexican military. After the war, Bingham mustered out as a First Sergeant and moved to LaGrange, Indiana in 1855, where he engaged in the mercantile business, farming, and served as Justice of the Peace .At the outbreak of the Civil War, he distinguished himself among his community members and helped raise and drill several companies in Lagrange, being noted as, “the only man in LaGrange County who could give the required commands for the simplest military movement.” He helped recruit another company in Fall 1861 to join the 44th Indiana as Company H, of which he was elected Captain, and which named itself, “Bingham’s Guards" in honor of their competent leader. A newspaper recorded the presentation of this sword to him in November 1861: “On Friday evening of the 15th Inst. with only twenty-four hours’ notice, a large number of the citizens of LaGrange assembled at the Court House, for the purpose of presenting to Wm. B. Bingham, Captain of the ‘Bingham’s Guards,’ Company H, in the Forty-Fourth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, with a sword, which had been purchased by the citizens of this place for that purpose. Captain Bingham responded in a very impressive and touching manner – thanking the donors for the elegant and significant present and pledging his honor that he would do the best of his ability to discharge the duties devolving upon him and that the weapon should never be dishonored whilst in his possession.” Bingham proved as good as his word. The regiment took part in Grant’s February 1862 move against Fort Henry and the siege and battle at Fort Donelson, where he was commended in the Official Records by the regiment’s colonel. The regiment had been forced to cease fire to avoid hitting friendly forces, but were still under fire from concealed Confederates: “We remained exposed to the enemy's fire for fifteen or twenty minutes without being able to return it or to determine whether our friends were still in danger of our guns. At this time, the enemy's fire partly subsiding, the regimental colors were ordered forward and were planted 10 paces in front of our line of battle by First Lieut. Story, of Company C. This failing to call forth a fire, Capt. Bingham, of Company H, advanced to a point 10 or 12 paces in front of our line and waved our colors in the air. This drew his fire, which was most heartily responded to by our men, and was followed up in rapid succession on both sides . . .” While waiting for their chance at the enemy, Bingham, remaining calm and intrepid, disregarded his own safety by making himself a target in order to draw fire and reveal enemy positions. This selfless act would play a key role in the capture of Fort Donelson, a decisive Union victory. Bingham was granted furlough several weeks later and promoted to Major, rejoining the regiment on the march from Shiloh to Corinth, and after the siege and battle there marched with it some 200 miles through Mississippi and Alabama to Battle Creek, Tennessee, and then commanded his men in Buell’s 200 mile retreat to Nashville and then north. Unfortunately, Bingham was taken ill near Bowling Green, Kentucky, and resigned his commission. Rebel soldiers could not strike him down, but instead the North and South's common enemy, disease, removed the honorable leader from the ranks of the Union Army. After his resignation, Bingham returned home and in later years was active in regimental reunions. An obituary remarked, “He was highly esteemed by his comrades in the service, and at the reunions of his regiment since the war, he has always received most hearty greeting. No one will be missed more than he.” These simple words are a fitting final tribute to a true leader, who was respected by the men under his command. Bingham's history lives on through his sword which was presented to him by the citizens of Lagrange, Indiana. The inscription is located on the upper mount and reads "Presented / to / W.B. Bingham / by the Citizens / of Lagrange / Ind." The sword is unmarked, but features bold and elegant designs throughout its construction. The obverse blade features a halberd, flanked by scrollwork and followed by a sword, also flanked by scrollwork, which leads up to a bold federal eagle perched on a bundle of arrows and surrounded by foliate scrolls focused at the center. Following the eagle is a banner that is etched "Union" which is mounted on top of two cannons and a patriotic shield, ending with foliate scrolls on the ricasso. The reverse of the blade also features a halberd flanked by foliate scenes, followed by a banner draped over vegetation that reads "E Pluribus / Unum". Beneath are the bold letters "U.S." which are followed by more vegetation ending with a wreath just above the ricasso. The designs blend onto the cast brass guard which is decorated with open floral scrollwork and the typical staff and field "US". The guard is followed by the grip, which features a grooved, center-swelled wooden handle wrapped in high quality sharkskin. The skin is tightly bound to the grip with double braided wire that fits neatly in the grooves of the handle. The pommel also features floral scrollwork and ends at a screw-tip top. Finally, a bullion sword knot that is wrapped around the lower knuklebow. The sword is complete with its original steel scabbard with brass mounts, suspension rings, and drag. The scabbard is relatively plain except for the ring mounts which are decorated with foliate motifs. Regardless of the lack of design, the scabbard presents well and compliments the sword. CONDITION: The blade has been very well preserved and retains its original polished bright sheen. The etchings remain bold and stand out when the sword is unsheathed. The blade is mostly clean but exhibits areas concentrated areas of pitting and various scratches. The edge exhibits small chips which do not appear deliberate. The brass guard remains bright and the grip is in superb condition as the brass wire remains tight. The knucklebow is slightly loose. The scabbard is in similar condition and also exhibits areas of pitting and scratches. The inscription remains crisp and unmolested. There are few small dents. The throat is loose and the screw exhibits evidence of tampering. This is a wonderful example of a presentation sword with an illustrious history that was carried, used, and cherished by its recipient. JLD
Name
Value
Blade Length
31"
Overall Length
37"
Paperwork
Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $4,800.00
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Number Bids: 10
Auction closed on Friday, December 17, 2021.
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