December 14-17, 2021 Collectible Firearms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 12/14/2021
Very nice example of a presentation grade foot officer's sword from a veteran called William S. Boyd, more appropriately known as “the fighting captain of the regiment.” Born on May 8, 1843 in Dublin, Ireland, he was living in St. Louis, Missouri when he enlisted on May 10, 1861 for three months in the 5th Missouri. Discharged August 10, 1861, he promptly joined the “Western Sharpshooters,” organized in St. Louis, Missouri by the renowned former Military Governor and State Senator of California, General John C. Fremont, the regiment consisted of men from various western states. The regiment used the nickname throughout the war, though officially designated the 14th Missouri Volunteer Infantry and, from late 1862, the 66th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Initially armed with half-stock civilian target rifles, by late 1863 many of the men had purchased Henry repeating rifles. Boyd and the other sharpshooters saw early action in Missouri against Confederate bushwhackers and scouts, fighting at Mount Zion, the regiment aided in the suppression of a Confederate force that was estimated at 900 strong. “The rebels could not stand the fire of our rifles and retreated, leaving in our hands 90 horse and 105 stand of arms”. After the battle, Captain Boyd was lauded for “gallant behavior” and was congratulated with his men. They later saw action at Renick, Macon, and Centralia. In February 1862 they proved their effectiveness as sharpshooters at Fort Donelson, where the regiment distinguished itself where “Every man kept a sharp look out for the Confederates and with a steady hand kept an entire 12 gun battery in front of the Division silent for 3 days of the siege.” The regiment remained at Fort Donelson until March 5, and went on to fight at Shiloh, Iuka, and Corinth. Boyd was wounded in the left arm on October 4, 1862 during the second day of the Battle of Corinth and is listed as present in the muster rolls one month later in November 1862. The regiment fought in numerous other skirmishes and smaller engagements with Confederate guerrillas and scouts in Tennessee and Alabama in 1863. They re-enlisted as veterans in late 1863 and in 1864 took part in the Atlanta Campaign, losing 225 men killed and wounded in 120 days of fighting, with Boyd periodically in command of the regiment from April 1864 to the end of the campaign. In front of Atlanta, he was prominent in regiment’s successful effort to recapture the DeGress Battery, a Union battery which was previously captured by the Confederates. During this effort, Boyd cracked one of the guns while turning it again on the enemy with the cry, “Here goes for Atlanta,” causing some comment in the records, but establishing the regiment’s claim to retaking the gun. A more detailed account if the event recounts that on July 22, 1864, “The 66th came up at the Battery behind the works. Captain W.S. Boyd inserted the shell in a gun that had burst. It was a percussion not a fuse shell. The breech went 20 to 25 feet to the rear, the right trunnion went to the right over the breastworks, the left over the right wheel. The gun broke forward of the trunnions, turning end for end, the muzzle pointing inward, the shell remaining in the muzzle. It was said to be a miracle that none were killed or crippled by it.” Boyd was mentioned in a veteran’s poem as wielding his sword in the Atlanta fighting: “Let them come a littled closer / Shouts our brave commander, Boyd; then he grasped his sheathless weapon / Bound to win or be destroyed.” The regiment subsequently took part in the March to the Sea and was involved with the Siege of Atlanta. He is mentioned as commanding the regiment again in January 1865, and mustered out on March 31, 1865 after the Battle of Bentonville. Boyd started his life in Ireland, made his impression in the United States as a successful and valiant officer, passing away and leaving the legacy of significant figure in Civil War history. Boyd distinguished himself in battle and was worthy of his sword, which was presented to him after many of his daring achievements in 1864. The presentation is located on the upper mount and reads “Capt. W.S. Boyd / 66th Ill. Vol. / 1864”, contained in a shield. Once unsheathed, the blade reveals itself to be rather plain, featuring little designs except for a spread winged federal eagle, perched on a banner that reads “E Pluribus Unum” flaked by scrollwork on the obverse and the letters “U.S.” which is also flanked by scrollwork, on the reverse. The blade is marked “SCHUYLER / HARTLEY & / GRAHAM / NEW YORK” appropriately acid etched on the ricasso. The sword features a cast brass hilt which features a quillion decorated with a tear drop design and a guard with open foliate and floral scrolls surrounding the small staff and field letters “US”. The grip features a grooved, center-swelled wooden handle wrapped in leather which is tightly bound to the grip with brass wire that fits neatly in the grooves of the handle. The tiered brass pommel is decorated with laurel leaves. The scabbard is constructed of leather and features brass mounts with two carry rings. Each mount features unique decorations and bands are each decorated with six stars. Floral motifs highlight the drag and the tip is decorated with a patriotic shield. CONDITION: Dark spots and a gray patina have dulled the decorations which appear as faint, but still noticeable. There are scattered areas of pitting throughout the length of the blade, but the edge remains unmolested. The hilt also exhibits dark spots, as well as a mustard patina with scattered finger print impressions. The grip exhibits light areas of leather loss that exposes the wood handle, however the brass wire remains secured, but is loose in several areas. The scabbard exhibits scattered cracking on the leather but the seam remains tight. The brass mounts exhibit a pleasing dull patina. The middle mount exhibits a dent and is loose with the ability to slightly slide. The drag exhibits several small dents and blemishes. Overall good. The sword is accompanied by a binder of research that includes several scanned photos of Boyd and other officers in his regiment. This is a very nice example of a sword that was presented to a front line officer who served throughout the western theater in a well-known regiment. JLD
Blade Length
Overall Length
Binder of Research
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $3,600.00
Estimate: $2,000 - $5,000
Number Bids: 7
Auction closed on Friday, December 17, 2021.
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