Presentation US Model 1850 Foot Officers' Sword of Jefferson N. Neff, Jefferson Guards, 122nd Pennsylvania Infantry
Model 1850 foot officers' sword. Sword has a slightly curved blade with broad fuller. Blade is etched with military designs: eagle with American shield, flags, severed head wearing feathered headdress, banner with "E Pluribus Unum." The retailer, William G. Mintzer of Phildadelphia, is etched just above the right ricasso and the blade's maker, Collins & Co., is stamped on left blade ricasso. Hilt is cast brass with incorporated decorative floral designs on the basket. Pommel is also cast with decorative elements. Quillon is an eagle's head with simulated ruby eyes. Grip is silver-plated brass, but most of the silver has worn off. It is done in a decorative spiral with 3 strands of wire wrapped in the groove. Small piece of red fabric on underside of guard around ricasso.
As indicated on the scabbard this sword was presented to Jefferson N. Neff of the Jefferson Guards by his friends as a token of esteem. The Jefferson Guards was formed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1861, probably in response to President Lincoln's call for troops after the outbreak of the Civil War. Neff was identified in the Lancaster Intelligencer of July 9-10, 1861 as being "well-qualifed" as company captain by his "education and experience for the position--having belonged to that crack corps, the Lancaster Fencibles." The sword is dated 1862 on the left ricasso, so it could not have been presented to him upon formation of the company. However, it appears that the company was absorbed into the 122nd Pennsylvania as Company G in 1862 and Neff may have received the sword at that time. Like many other soldiers who died during the war, Neff was killed by illness, not combat. He contracted dysentary and typhoid fever, and died at Potomac Creek on April 21, 1863. (see Sprenger, 1885)
"Wm. G. Mintzer / Phildelphia / Pa." (etched above right ricasso on blade); " COLLINS & CO. / HARTFORD / CONN. / 1862" (stamped on left ricasso)