Historic Civil War Inscribed US M1852 Naval Officer’s Sword


1 in stock

SKU: SS1939 Category:


The US Model 1852 Naval Officer’s sword was introduced in 1852 and is still in parade use
with naval officers today. However, those of the Civil War era have distinctly broader
blades. It features a cast brass hilt with acanthus decoration and “USN” on the guard,
scrolled sea serpent-head quillon, knuckle bow with sea serpent finial connected to the
pommel, which depicts acanthus and a US eagle surrounded by 13 stars. The grip is
covered with sharkskin (small losses) and brass wire wrap. Slightly curved 27″ single-
edged blade profusely etched with maker’s name “WH HORSTMAN/&
SONS/PHILADELPHIA”, anchors, stands of arms, stars, acanthus, and “USA” in a ribbon.
Black leather scabbard of regulation pattern with brass throat, middle carry band, and drag
with sea serpent. The throat fitting is inscribed “Charles Ainsworth/U.S.N.” in script on the
reverse. Sword and scabbard in fine condition for their age; the blade with sharp etching;
the scabbard leather supple with no flaking, drag with shallow dents. Overall length 32 ½”,
not including scabbard. Included is a large archive showing Ainsworth’s naval service
provided by Washington-Lee & Associates Confederate and Union Genealogical Research

Charles Ainsworth was born on July 18, 1836 and resided in Maine. He enlisted in the US
Navy on July 13, 1860 in Boston and was assigned to the newly commissioned steam
sloop USS Richmond, serving aboard her until August, 1863. The Richmond was
assigned to the Gulf Blockading Squadron and participated in the capture of New Orleans,
where she was rammed by the Confederate ironclad ram Manassas and struck 17 times
by cannon fire while passing the forts south of the city. She was heavily engaged at Port
Hudson, where she received damage that killed her executive officer. She departed New
Orleans on July 30, 1863 for a major overhaul, around the time when Ainsworth left the
ship to be appointed as ensign and Acting Master’s Mate on August 3, 1863. As ensign he
served aboard the newly acquired gunboat USS Commodore Read, a converted shallow-
draft ferry which was ideal for cruising the rivers and creeks around Virginia. During this
service he saw heavy action engaging land forces and fortifications. Ainsworth completed
his naval service aboard the USS Banshee, a captured blockade runner converted to a
navy gunboat, resigning on July 14, 1866 and returning to Maine. Ainsworth served the
entire Civil War as either a seaman or officer and saw considerable action, eventually
receiving a disability pension in 1896. This historic sword was recently acquired in Maine.
Inscribed Civil War era naval swords are far more scarce than those of the land forces.