Rare Confederate Froelich Artillery Short Sword
All Confederate-made swords are relatively rare, but perhaps one of the rarest is the foot
artillery short sword made by Louis Froelich of Wilmington, NC and later Kenansville, NC.
It would appear that the artillery sword was one of his earliest pieces, as the State of North
Carolina contracted for 200 foot artillery swords in 1861 and it is known that the ordnance
office in Raleigh paid $12 each for 151 of these between December 1861 and March,
1862. In Wilmington the company was known as the Wilmington Sword Factory or the
Confederate Arms Factory, but in September, 1862 Froelich bought a 2.5 acre tract in
Kenansville, NC and the new factory became known as the Confederate States Armory,
where most of their wartime production occurred. They produced a wide array of products
from buttons, knapsacks, and accouterments, to all types of edged weapons, including
swords and surgical instruments. They are perhaps best known for their cavalry sabers, of
which they provided over 11,000 to the Confederacy. The quality of their products was
generally better than other Confederate-made items. The example offered here is of
simple form with cast one-piece brass hilt comprising guard, scaled grip, and pommel.
Double-edged 18 1/4" blade of gladius form with unstopped fuller on each side. It is
completely unmarked and identified mostly from its distinctive cross guard. Like almost all
foot artillery short swords of the period it was fashioned after the French model which was
a modern recreation of the ancient Roman gladius. When adopted by the French, these
were originally intended to kill or maim charging cavalry horses, but such use during the
Civil War was rarely practical so these stout weapons were largely used to clear brush and
help with setting up the artillery batteries. As such, the blade of this example shows much
use with numerous deep edge nicks and the tip is worn. The piece is uncleaned and the
high copper content brass hilt show a dark patina with some lighter patches. Blade with
dark rust patina. Most Confederate swords show considerable wear and use, as is the
case with this very rare example. No scabbard. Overall length 23 1/2".
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