December 14-17, 2021 Collectible Firearms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 12/14/2021
Schermerhorn was a soldier's soldier, refusing discharge for wounds to remain with his comrades, declining one promotion to return to the ranks, but eventually accepting appointment as the senior NCO of his company, making him responsible for it on a day-to-day basis, putting him in close contact with each of his men, and in fact commanding the company in the field, though still a sergeant, when he was mustered out. Born in Schenectady, NY, and standing almost six-feet tall, with brown hair and blue eyes, he had been a machinist and was just 25 when he enlisted in Brooklyn on August 19, 1861 and on September 17 mustered into Captain Hastings company in the Berdan's 1st US Sharpshooters, later designated Company H. This was one of four New York companies in the regiment, all the men having to pass a marksmanship test of ten consecutive shots into a bullseye at 200 yards with an average deviation of no more than five inches. Schermerhorn passed the test and was appointed corporal October 1, but decided he would rather be a private and is reported as returned to the ranks at his own request on muster roll of January-February 1862, apparently deciding he would rather fight than give orders. His abilities were such, however, that he was again pulled from the ranks and promoted, this time to Sergeant, April 15, 1862 and then to First Sergeant one year later, in April 1863. He is marked present on the company muster rolls all through the period, during which the regiment, attached to the 3rd Corps, saw action on the Peninsula in battles from Yorktown through Malvern Hill and then in the Second Bull Run and Antietam campaign. At Chancellorsville in May 1863 the unit was again heavily engaged and Schermerhorn was wounded, but refused hospitalization to remain with the company. At Gettysburg the regiment was again heavily engaged on July 2 in probing Confederate preparations for Longstreet's attack against the Union left and in confronting the main assault. He came through that fire unscathed, but was wounded in the foot on July 3 while on the skirmish line near Cemetery Hill. The wound was serious enough that he was transferred from a field hospital to a general hospital at Annapolis and was unable to return to the regiment for six months, in the meantime turning down the opportunity for a medical discharge, preferring to serve out his term according to all sources, including the unit history by Capt. C.A. Stevens. The history states "all I know by name was Sergt. John T. Schermerhorn, a good and dutiful soldier, who was so severely wounded as to be unable to rejoin his company for many months, and could have been discharged on it, but preferred to serve his term out. He is present again on the company muster roll for January-February 1864 and throughout the rest of his service, during which the unit saw continued hard service in the near constant fighting of Grant's overland campaign of 1864, including Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the assault on Petersburg and subsequent trench and siege duty, and other operations such as Weldon Railroad. By the time he mustered out on September16 in front of Petersburg, still as the company first sergeant, he was actually in command of the company. After mustering out he returned to civilian life, living for a time in Norfolk, Virginia, after the war and then moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he died in December 1916. Given his devotion to his company and comrades it is little surprise they honored him with this sword. The presentation grade Model 1840 sword is eye-catching and despite no visible maker mark the blade is profusely etched and the scabbard bears a wonderful presentation. The presentation is located on the mount and reads "Presented to / 1st Sgt. John T. / Schermerhorn / 1st Regt. U.S.S.S / by the men of Co. H N.Y.V." The blade presents wonderfully and depicts elegant foliate and patriotic scenes. The obverse starts with a gentle fern that is contained in the outline of a spire and is followed by scrollwork surrounding a panoply of arms and bunting spread out behind a patriotic shield. The designs are continued by more scrollwork ending with a flowing banner that reads "E Pluribus Unum" just above the ricasso. The designs on the reverse begin with the same spire followed by mirroring scrollwork which is separated by the bold letters "US" contained in a scrolled vignette. The scrollwork continues for the rest of the length and ends just above the ricasso. The crossguard exhibits what appears to be a winged buckler with punched dot decorations engraved on both sides. The left side of the crossguard was intentionally turned down, most likely for convenience when worn. The brass knucklebow also features floral decorations and the sword ends with a a pommel that is engraved to resemble a flower. The scabbard is of black leather with a brass mount and drag. The mount exhibits arabesque designs with the mount and hook contained in ovular vignettes. The designs on the mount a mirrored on the drag. CONDITION: The blade exhibits a light gray patina with scattered areas of pitting especially towards the tip. There are a few light dents along the edge of the dulled blade. Tip is rounded. After engraving the scabbard mounts for the presentation, the engraver, obviously not a military man, put the throat back on backwards. The original rivet securing it is untouched and the previous owner wisely decided to leave it as it was presented to Schermerhorn. The leather has consistent cracks that travel the length of the leather. The seam has separated exposing a six inch gap and there are scattered areas of leather loss. This is a great NCO sword that was presented to a worthy soldier who distinguished himself on the field. Overall good. JLD
Blade Length
27 - 1/4"
Overall Length
33 - 1/2"
Binder of Research
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,200.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $4,320.00
Estimate: $2,400 - $3,400
Number Bids: 18
Auction closed on Friday, December 17, 2021.
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