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Old 9th March 2020, 07:47 PM   #10
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,333

BAW, I would like to thank you for acknowledging my posts and responding to my question concerning the comments on the 'broadswords' (as per news accounts) used by John Brown's men in these events and shown in museum contexts as similar or believed to have been used.

In these cases concerning museum descriptions, and display of items in 'soft' association it is often hard to rely on them to qualify various elements in the history of a particular form. However, it the cases you cite, it does seem compellingly plausible that these were indeed the curious M1832 foot artillery swords.

These swords (which were double edged so in fact broadswords by definition) were as noted M1832 and produced by Ames Sword Co. of Chicopee, Mass. in considerable numbers between then and 1862. While intended for use by the foot artillery, in 1834 and 39 they were ordered to be used by infantry as well.
Harold Peterson ("The American Sword" ,1954/73) notes these were unwieldy and completely unsuitable for combat. In their use they served mostly in a utility purpose.

This is an interesting and well known description of these somewhat defying the plausibility of these particular weapons being used by the Pawnee, Otoe or any other American Indian tribe. this is especially notable in view of the reticence of warriors to even use other types of swords combatively in any measurable degree. That is why I consider that these examples may likely be photographers props.

Having said that, and returning to the M1832 swords, it is interesting to know about a number of these being found under floor in excavations of the San Diego de Alcala mission. This was one of the first missions in California and in the 1840s given to an officer of the California Battalion. After the Treaty of Cahuenga it seems he continued providing support for US military so it would be interesting to discover more on what units were there.
The idea of being hidden for possible sale later seems odd, but even though not especially valuable as a weapon, these blades could be repurposed, as most items often were in these times in these areas.

This of course digresses from the original topic here, so I would very much like to discuss further via private message if possible. Having grown up in Southern Calif. I developed a very keen interest in Spanish colonial history as well as western history. Now in Texas, I am typically near the Alamo, where I have been interested in many of the excavations undertaken there.

Thank you again for the response.
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