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aneedle1
USMA M-1872 West Point cadet Sword
Wed Jan 18, 2012 05:46
65.35.76.202

West Point Cadet Sword M-1872 to 1922
1868 to 1922 Model 1872

I just want to start by stating the importance of this sword. The years it took for the two major players Col. A. B Benton, Chief of Ordnance and Head of the National Armory in Washington and Gen A. B. Dyer who was the man in Charge of the Springfield Armory and years it took then to design, develop and modify the redesign from parts from the regulation Musicians sword and using the Ames Scabbard they starting in working in 1860 and transforming it in to what it really is today. This was not a simple project the materiel specification are mind blowing below is the officially complete description.

Approximately 30" long. The guard does not extend to the pommel to protect the hand, as is the case of the sabers, as the nature of its use does not necessitate such protection. The blade is made up of high carbon , oil hardening steel, forged, tempered, and straightened. It is nickel plated and buffed, the blade being about 6/10 inch in width at the guard and tapering to a narrow point at front end. The guard is made of bronze and has rectangular slot for shank of blade. It is gold plated and burnished on all polished surfaces. It is cast with an ornamental design of a coiled serpent on each end, forming an enlargement at the extreme ends of guard. The center of the guard contains an ornamental design with the initials M.A. about 3/4 inch high. The inside is cored to fit the shank of blade. The grip is made of nickel bronze. It is formed to fit the hand, with grooves running around the outside having the appearance of being wound with small cord. The pommel is made of gold-plated bronze with polished surfaces burnished. It is screwed on to shank of blade, securely holding guard and pommel in place after they are assembled to blade. The outside has an ornamental design of a spread eagle. The inside is counter-bored and tapped to take the end of the blade shank. The washer is made of leather, 0.07 inch thick. It is placed between the guard and scabbard to act as a buffer when sword is placed in scabbard. Complete with 29 1/2" metal scabbard - Army #4440. Scabbard is made of sheet steel, 0.035 inch in thickness, formed, and edges brazed together. It is polished, nickel plated, and buffed. It has a scabbard tip which is made of bronze, polished, and gold plated and burnished. The front end of the scabbard tip is slotted and the scabbard tip protector, which is made of sheet brass is brazed into it. The scabbard tip fits over the lower end of scabbard and is held in place by two small screws. The upper band is made of bronze, gold plated, all of the polished surfaces being burnished. The scabbard hook, which is also bronze, gold plated and buffed, is brazed to band.The scabbard linings, of which there are two, are made of wood and prevent scratching of nickel on the sword blade when inserting and withdrawing from scabbard. They also hold sword in place and prevent rattling. The mouthpiece is fastened to the scabbard by two screws, which also secure the upper band to the scabbard. The screws, of which there are four, two for upper band and two for scabbard tip, are made of brass, gold plated and burnished.proximately 30" long. The guard does not extend to the pommel to protect the hand, as is the case of the sabers, as the nature of its use does not necessitate such protection. The blade is made up of high carbon , oil hardening steel, forged, tempered, and straightened. It is nickel plated and buffed, the blade being about 6/10 inch in width at the guard and tapering to a narrow point at front end. The guard is made of bronze and has rectangular slot for shank of blade. It is gold plated and burnished on all polished surfaces. It is cast with an ornamental design of a coiled serpent on each end, forming an enlargement at the extreme ends of guard. The center of the guard contains an ornamental design with the initials M.A. about 3/4 inch high. The inside is cored to fit the shank of blade. The grip is made of nickel bronze. It is formed to fit the hand, with grooves running around the outside having the appearance of being wound with small cord. The pommel is made of gold-plated bronze with polished surfaces burnished. It is screwed on to shank of blade, securely holding guard and pommel in place after they are assembled to blade. The outside has an ornamental design of a spread eagle. The inside is counter-bored and tapped to take the end of the blade shank. The washer is made of leather, 0.07 inch thick. It is placed between the guard and scabbard to act as a buffer when sword is placed in scabbard. Complete with 29 1/2" metal scabbard - Army #4440. Scabbard is made of sheet steel, 0.035 inch in thickness, formed, and edges brazed together. It is polished, nickel plated, and buffed. It has a scabbard tip which is made of bronze, polished, and gold plated and burnished. The front end of the scabbard tip is slotted and the scabbard tip protector, which is made of sheet brass is brazed into it. The scabbard tip fits over the lower end of scabbard and is held in place by two small screws. The upper band is made of bronze, gold plated, all of the polished surfaces being burnished. The scabbard hook, which is also bronze, gold plated and buffed, is brazed to band. The scabbard linings, of which there are two, are made of wood and prevent scratching of nickel on the sword blade when inserting and withdrawing from scabbard. They also hold sword in place and prevent rattling. The mouthpiece is fastened to the scabbard by two screws, which also secure the upper band to the scabbard. The screws, of which there are four, two for upper band and two for scabbard tip, are made of brass, gold plated and burnished.

Not only did it take years to approve.

The instruction manual alone which explains how it is to be assembled in it's self was over 15 pages. The technical drawing are works of art.

I will dispelled one rumor that this sword was never contracted out to the Ames mfg co. .They did make one for private sale only. There was and always has been a very close relationship between the two for years. the fact that Ames made most but not all the model 1839/40 up in to the mid 1860's. I have to state this that there is no records that this item was ever contracted out, the Springfield production records and dates match delivery dates to the academy. the Ames records do not show official order's or delivery dates for this item.

I am more included to believe that the first contract went to the Rock Island Armory for the model M-1922 and Ames was the second. Manufactured by the Springfield Armory, Springfield, Ma. Produced from 1868 up to 1920 for West Point exclusively by the Springfield Armory. Using the official description of sword as described in the 1878 printing of Springfield Ordnance Memorandum # 22 G.P.O. as shown above.

Markings:

Cross bar: M.A.
Blade Ricasso stamped U.S. Armory Springfield
Blade is etched with U.S.M.A."

Please note that the head of the Pommel scroll with sword knot hole faces to the left as you view the face of the M-1872 sword. This was changed on the Model-1922 to faced to the right as you viewed the sword.

Photo's of this change can be found on page 68 of Fredrick Todds book cadet Gray and another example is on page 10 figure 3 in Burton A Kellerstedt book Swords and sabers of the Armory at Springfield though this can be confusing as the discrimination of photo # 3 describes another sword and does not match the discrimination.

The Springfield Armory was the only official maker of this sword till 1920 and is stamped Springfield Amory on the Ricasso. The Armory production records show that 253 Cadet Swords plus a few pattern samples were manufactured between 1868 to 1920 and used to 1923. There was another order for 100 scabbards to replace the one that were needed.

Dates made and the number produced by the Springfield Armory.
1868 - 36
1874 - 25
1876 - 28
1880 - 14
1882 - 50
1893 - 50
1914 - 50
Total: 253
1920 - 100 scabbards only

That's 48 years in service for 253 swords. The swords were polished so often that most blade stampings were just worn off. In 1920 the Springfield Amory stopped making this sword and then it was produced starting in 1922 under contract to private makers. The first two makers were Ames and the Rock Island Armory which put a matching serial number on each sword and scabbard. It would be very hard to a find virgin sword that came from the West Point Cadet Store because The bookstore returned the swords to Springfield who broke it down so the best parts were used
to rebuilt the sword from its parts to be reissued again and again.
This sword was never sold to cadets.

Presentation Swords and other special swords were custom made swords produced by many manufactures and or imported by the Lilley-Ames Company of Columbus, Ohio, Rock Island Armory, Rock Island, IL, M.S. Meyers N.Y.C. N.Y., Gemsco Inc. New York, Horstmann Company Philadelphia PA as well as a few more.

Cadets were free to purchase and use there own swords, which they privately ordered from one of the many unofficial makers listed above. Officially this is a copy and is not a officially issued sword. It would be very hard to find a M-1872 Springfield as the few that are around are owned by museums. There were a limited number of custom made swords produced. Unless the blade is etched with with USMA or West Point Military Academy it would be impossible to prove it was used or made for a cadet at West Point.

Name Swords
Sword blades engraved with the cadets name are called named sword and less than 20% were made this way. This was much more expensive, most could not afford the extra money to buy it new. The condition of the M-1872 was not getting any better, so there was a good market among cadets to buy used swords and resell it to another cadet after graduation.
Name swords could not be resold.

Swords of tradition
It would not be uncommon that presentation swords used by high ranking cadet officers were passes down swords with special history to the cadet that takes their command the following year. The best examples would be the Regimental commanders, Drum Major, Color Guard and even down to Company commanders were given the honor to use this sword for as long as they have the position.
Which would make them Swords of Honor.

Cadets had no use for this type of sword in the Army, as officers, they carried the 1902 Army saber, so most cadets did not want to spend the money for a custom sword so they purchased a used one or took a issued one.

Past makers of custom swords or importers.
Armory, Rock Island, IL
Ames, Lilley Company
M.C. Lilley & Company
Lilley-Ames Company of Columbus, Ohio
M.S. Meyers N.Y.C. N.Y.
Gemsco Inc. New York
Horstmann Company Philadelphia PA

This article is 100% backed by references, and in unwritten tradition, If you would like to question the references or to the tradition please ask.

If you have any photo's of this Sword that it can post please let me know.

Thanks

    • CADET SWORDRichard Diese, Tue Jun 14 22:55
      i HAVE A sWORD, ENGRAVED, MANUFACTURED BY M C LILEY. NAME T M ALLEN IN OLD ENGLISH , FLIP SIDE HAS USMA 1913. COULD THIS BE MAJOR GENERAL TERRIBLE TERRY ALLEN.CLASS OF 1912, SERVED IN WW1 AND WW2... more
    • Re: USMA M-1872 West Point cadet SwordBen, Fri Oct 16 15:42
      I have a U.S.M.A sword my father had he left me after he past away couple years ago I just want to see if it's a copy or a original one can you send me your email so I could send you a picture
    • Re: USMA M-1872 West Point cadet SwordAnonymous, Sun Oct 12 11:12
      I have a sword look at face book blake Armstrong I dont know if ot is real or not
      • Questionaneedle1, Sun Oct 12 12:48
        I do not understand your question...
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