Model 1872 Cavalry Officers'
By Patrick McSherry
Hilt of the Model 1872 Cavalry Sword used by 1st Lt. William A.
Siddle of the 49th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. The blade is marked "AMES
SWORD CO. AMES ILL." The Ames Company had opened the Ames Sword Co.
branch in Chicago in 1881. In 1893 the Chicago branch was consolidated
with the Frank Henderson & Co. forming the Henderson Ames Co.
Therefore, the version of the saber shown above was manufactured
between 1881 and 1893. Though the weapon was a cavalry weapon, it was
used in the Spaish American War by Lt. Siddle, a volunteer infantry
officer. The sword was likely purchased privately by him.
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The Model 1872 Cavalry Officer's Saber saw service in the Spanish
By the time of the American Civil War it was becoming obvious to the
infantry officers that swords had very limited value in battle as a
weapon. The reason was that the firearms used in the conflict forced the
fighting to occur at a distance. The heavier swords such as the 1850
Foot Officer's Sword gave way to the Model 1860 Officers Sword. The
weapons were quite different, but the most notable difference was that
the blade of the Model 1860 sword was much lighter blade which would not
have held up in actual combat. Swords used by officers were now
generally a symbol of a authority and as a device for giving direction
in battle. For the cavalry, the issue was slightly different. During the
Civil War, the Model 1856 Officer's Cavalry Saber still saw action in
battle, but in the period following the Civil War the cavalry followed
the infantry in that firearms were the weapon of practical choice. As a
result, the cavalry officer's saber was modified and the Model 1872
Cavalry Saber came into existence. The most significant difference was,
again, the weight and width of the blade. The blade would have greatly
limited the weapon's value in battle, but still would allow for the
weapon to act as a symbol of authority. The Model 1872 Cavalry Sword was
produced from 1872 until 1903.
A major advantage of the Model 1872 Cavalry Officer's Saber was that it
actually was lighter. It would still be useful as a symbol of authority.
The theoretical disadvantage was that the weapon would have been of little
value as a weapon in battle. This, however, is a perceived disadvantage
rather than actual disadvantage in that sabers seldom saw actual use as a
|32 1/4 inches
|39 1/2 inches
The Model 1872 Cavalry Sword used by
1st Lt. William A. Siddle of the 49th Iowa Volunteer Infantry beside
his pistol and trunk.
Bazelon, Bruce S., and William F. McGuinn, A
Directory of American Military Goods Dealers & Makers, 1785-1885.
(Manassas, VA: REF Typetting and Publishing, Inc., 1987) 1.
Siddle, Troy - images of saber and equipment
The Horse Soldier, "The Model 1872 CavalryOfficer's
Saber by Ames"
Wyllie, Arthur, U.S. Swords. (Tulsa:
MCN Press, 1980), Reprinted 2005, 103.
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