December 14-17, 2021 Collectible Firearms & Militaria
Search By:
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 12/14/2021
Daniel Mack Ray was born in Yancy County North Carolina on March 27, 1833. He grew up in Sevier County, Tennessee later receiving his academic education in Burnsville, North Carolina and Dandridge, Tennessee. After his education was complete, he worked as a school teacher, and was living in east Tennessee when the war broke out. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he remained loyal to the Union, and joined the Army after a year of clandestine work behind enemy lines in eastern Kentucky, blowing up bridges and obstructing the invading rebel armies. According to one obituary, Ray organized neighbors to burn several railroad bridges in order to delay pro-southern forces entering the state. He then made his way to Flat Lick, Kentucky, to enlist in the Union army, receiving a commission on October, 10 1862 as First Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry, U.S., part of the Army of Ohio, resigning from that unit six months later to take a commission as Colonel of the 2nd Tennessee Cavalry, U.S., on August 6, 1862 with whom he served with for the remainder of his extensive war service commanding a brigade in Sheridan’s Atlantic campaign under Major General David S. Stanley and Colonel Edward M. McCook. Their first service was covering Morgan’s 450 mile retreat from Cumberland Gap to the Ohio River, which they did dismounted. They were finally mounted at Louisville, Kentucky, and then moved to Nashville and took part in the advance on Murfreesboro, taking part in the Battle of Stones River and all the smaller fights and skirmishes of the campaign, such as Nolensville, Triune, Wilkinson's Cross Roads, Lizzard's, and others. From January 1, 1863 to June 23, 1863, the regiment served with the cavalry under Stanley, covering Rosecrans, engaging in fights with cavalry under Forrest, Wheeler, Morgan and others. The date of the presentation of this sword more or less corresponding with the Tullahoma Campaign, pursuing Bragg, and then joining Sheridan’s expedition to Alabama, before rejoining the cavalry under Stanley and taking part in the “fierce skirmishing” of the Battle of Chickamauga, afterward covering the army as it fell back to Chattanooga, seeing continued action against Confederate cavalry, guarding railroad lines and taking part in an expedition into Mississippi from Memphis in late December 1863. During much of this time Ray was in command of the brigade: from February through April 1863, the 3rd Brigade 1st Cavalry Division, Department of the Cumberland, and the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland, in September and October, 1863 (the Chickamauga Campaign.) Ray’s war record is extraordinary, and includes many decisive battles on the Western Theater. He was in numerous saber charges and was involved with hand-to-hand combat, many of said events were chronicled in the Official Records and newspaper articles of the era. Colonel Ray was said to have carried two swords throughout the war. The first, a regulation officer’s cavalry saber was lost shortly after the Battle of Chickamauga during one of the famed incidents of “Wheelers Raid” when the Confederates burned the Union Army’s wagon trains, bound for Chattanooga, at Anderson’s Crossroads. Colonel’s Ray and McCook lead the successful counter charge but by then between three and five hundred of the eight hundred wagons were in smoldering ruins. This incident was sketched by J.T.E. Hillen, an artist for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated newspaper, who happened to be traveling with the brigade. There is a slight conflict with dates in the records, and Ray may have lost his first sword at Stone’s River. The second sword is his magnificent presentation saber following the battle of Triune and preceding the Battle of Chickamauga and the Tullahoma Campaign. This presentation sword was in his possession through the remainder of Ray’s military career during the battles of Chickamauga, Nashville, the Defense of Decatur, Memphis, Antioch Church, Owen’s Crossroads, Jonesboro, and the many battles and skirmishes of the Union Army’s Atlantic Campaign. Due to Colonel Ray’s deteriorating health, and after three and a half years of living in the saddle, constantly skirmishing and battling against the likes of Joe Wheeler, John Bell Hood, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, he turned down an appointment to Brigadier Generalship and resigned in February 1864, for reasons of health according to some sources, and to attend to business, by his own words. After leaving the service Ray returned to East Tennessee for the first year but the factionalism and discontent was so high that in 1866, he moved with his wife and son to Woodson County, Kansas, where he lived for the next 43 years. He pursued farming, surveying, and working as real estate broker in Illinois and Kansas. A county history maintains that he turned down a brevet brigadier’s commission, “preferring to be a colonel with a reputation rather than a general without one,” and adds that, “on many a battlefield his own bravery inspired his men to deeds of valor . . . ,” a statement this beautiful presentation sword seems to support. On his eightieth birthday, Ray exhibited to well-wishers some of his war mementos, which included cavalry scarves, a union flag, and two swords. One was undoubtedly this. Twelve days after his exhibit on April 7, 1913, Ray died in his bed, leaving behind an incredible legacy, the likes of which are seldom read in the history books. The sword remained in Ray’s family and was passed down through several generations before making its way to the consigner now being offered in the open marked for the first time in its history. Ray’s presentation sword is striking and the presentation is located on both the upper and middle mounts. The upper mount is wonderfully inscribed and reads “Presented to / Col. D.M. Ray / 2nd East Tenn. Cav. USA / by officers and men of his Regt. / as a token of friendship / and esteem.” The presentation is continued on the middle mount and reads “Nashville, Tenn. / June 20th. / 1863.” Once unsheathed, the blade reveals a gold washed Damascus steel blade that is wonderfully etched with decorations. The decorations on the obverse are contained in an arabesque shaped vignette and features a panoply of arms followed by an elegant spread winged eagle with a banner that reads “E Pluribus Unum” flowing above its head with one end clutched in its beak. The eagle is followed by a panoply of arms that is intertwined with acanthus leaves ending at the ricasso which is marked “Schuyler Hartley & Graham / N.Y.” followed by “Solingen” covered with gold wash. The reverse is equally elegant and features designs contained in a similar vignette. The designs start with scrolls of acanthus leaves followed by a panoply of arms intertwined with acanthus leaves, leading up to a fasces flanked by branches followed by more acanthus scrolls ending at the ricasso. The spine exhibits a creeping vine that travels the length of the blade etchings. The blade appears as though it is sprouting out of a budding flower as evidenced by the cast petals that surround the ricasso. The hilt features a cast brass guard that is adorned with a fearsome American eagle waging battle against an evil serpent, much like the struggle between the Union and rebel forces, as they fight between the staff and field “US”, the letters divided by two sides, much like the status of the country at that time. Behind the eagle is a beautiful orchid quillon. The grip is of silver and features Lady Liberty, equipped with a sword and shield at her side as she stands underneath 13 stars. To her reverse an elegant architectural vignette flanked by scrollwork, which contains a panoply of arms and armor within its borders. The designs end with a plain silver pommel cap. The sword is complete with its equally elegant browned steel scabbard and features brilliantly decorated cast and chased brass mounts. The throat is in the shape of a palmette and is followed by the upper mount which is decorated with a variety of lush foliate motifs and also features tools such as a scythe and a cycle ready to harvest the fruits right off of the mount. The middle mount is mostly plain with the exception of nicely engraved palmette borders. Thick oak leaves and acorns adorn the drag, so detailed that they would almost alternate colors with the change of the season. The reverse of the drag features sprouting acanthus leaves. Complimenting the scabbard are two deeply cast ring mounts in the appearance of freshly assembled wreaths. CONDITION: The blade has unfortunately lost most of its gold wash but enough remains to provide evidence that the sword was once flashier. The blade exhibits scattered areas of pitting and light tarnishing with scattered chips along the edge. Nevertheless, the blade is still beautiful and is well preserved overall. The guard retains some of its gilt but exhibits several dark spots as well as scattered verdigris. The grip has darkened with age but the designs remain bold. The scabbard exhibits scattered areas of finish loss along with light areas of pitting. The brass mounts also retain some gilt but exhibit a pleasant, dark patina in some areas. Not only are the mounts in very good condition, they are also firmly secured to the scabbard. The drag screw is deformed. Overall very good. This is an incredible presentation sword that not only is wonderfully constructed, but is named to an officer whose exploits are nothing short of legendary. The sword is accompanied by a binder of research that is almost as thick, if not thicker than a phonebook. There are photos of Ray when he was older, and even photographs of tintypes from when Ray was a young man before entering the Army. Each of Ray’s battles are laid out on a three-page timeline of the war with annotations as to where he was and what actions he was undertaking during battles. He is mentioned over 65 times in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, both in reports and correspondence with many of the great players of the American Civil War including Sheridan, Sherman, Burnside, Rosecrans, Thomas, Stanley, McCook, and others. There is also mention in his file that the first sword he lost, mentioned above, was returned to him on August 5, 1905. This presentation sword is for the serious collector and it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to have such a sword as the highlight piece for a Civil War Collection. JLD
Blade Length
Overall Length
Binder of Research
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $4,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $11,400.00
Estimate: $8,000 - $12,000
Number Bids: 16
Auction closed on Friday, December 17, 2021.
Email A Friend
Ask a Question
Have One To Sell

Auction Notepad


You may add/edit a note for this item or view the notepad:  

Submit    Delete     View all notepad items