Union Army Uniforms and Insignia of the Civil War

Officers' Swords

Model 1850 Staff and Field Officer's Sword

Model 1850 Staff and Field Offcer's Sword
(Courtesy: Ron Card)

Multipe sword models were used in the Civil War and served both a practical function as a weapon and a symbolic function as a badge of office.

The Model 1850 Staff and Field Sword
was regulation for use by the
following categories of officers:
  • Line Officers
    • Field Officers of Infantry
    • Field Officers of Cavalry
    • Light Artillery Officers (all grades)
  • Staff Officers
    • Adjutant General's Department
    • Corps of Engineers
    • Inspector General's Department
    • Judge Advocate General's Department
    • Ordnance
    • Quartermaster General's Department
    • Subsistence Department
    • Topographical Engineers
  • Aides-de-Camp
hilt Hilt Detail
(Courtesy: Ron Card)

Guard Detail
(Courtesy: Ron Card)
The sword was adopted April 9, 1850 and was regulation until the adoption of the Regulations of 1872. General Orders Number 21 of August 28, 1860 allowed a lighter alternate straight bladed sword called the Model of 1860 to be worn in place of the heavier Model of 1850. Photographic evidence suggests that the Model 1850 was more popular with officers during the Civil War, but in 1872 it was the Model 1860 that replaced the Model 1850. A Model 1850 staff and field officers' sword is much more likely to be Civil War era than a Model 1860, which was used to 1902, and more likely to be postwar.

The Model 1850 staff and field officers' sword was adopted at same time as the Model 1850 foot officers' sword and bears some resemblance to it. The staff and field officer's sword has a more elaborate half basket guard that bears the letters U.S. and other decorations. Both typically have 32 inch etched blades. Both may have leather or steel scabbards. These weapons were privately purchased by the officers and vary in the richness of their decoration. Some are presentation grade, extremely fancy weapons that were not intended for routine use. The design was based on a French pattern. Many of the Model 1850 swords were manufactured in France or Germany and imported into the United States.

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