Lot 170    

Non-Regulation Foot Officer's Sword Identified to William H. Lewis, USA
10/25/2011 - Historic Firearms & Historic Militaria
A typical Civil War era import having 33" blade with single fuller, marked at ricasso, W. Walscheid/Solingen with "proved" disc on opposite. Shagreen and twisted brass wire wrapped handle. Iron pommel, backstrap, knuckle bow with three branches. Metal scabbard with two carrying rings. Top of metal scabbard near the throat engraved, W.H. Lewis USA with tiny scrolls around the engraving.

William Henry Lewis (1829-1878) was a 1849 West Point graduate and career army officer who had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel, 19th Infantry when he was mortally wounded in action against a Cheyenne band at Punished Woman’s Fork, Kansas on September 27 ,1878. Following the Mexican War, Lewis was commissioned in the 4th Infantry in July 1849 before transferring to the 5th Infantry in August 1850 where he spent the next 14 years as a company grade officer earning two brevets for gallantry in the distant Southwest during the Civil War. In 1856-57 Lieutenant Lewis was in action against the Seminoles and in 1857-59 marched with Johnston to repress the Mormon Rebellion. In May 1861 Lewis was promoted to captain, 5th Infantry while stationed at Fort Fauntleroy, N.M. He was engaged against Sibley’s Confederate Army at the battle of Glorieta Pass (Apache Canyon) on March 28, 1862 and was brevetted major “for gallant and meritorious” service while in command of a company that charged and captured a Confederate field piece. Captain Lewis bore a flag of truce within the enemy’s lines while attempting to secure a Confederate surrender.

Lewis won a second brevet to lieutenant colonel during the relatively minor engagement at Peralta, New Mexico on April 15, 1862 where Canby’s Federal cavalry captured a Confederate supply train but unwilling to assault the enemy held adobe town, the small Confederate force escaped during a dust storm. Lewis was promoted to major, 18th Infantry in July 1864, but remained in the New Mexico Territory for the duration of the war and did not join the regiment until June 1865.

This style of imported sword came into use during the later half of the Civil War and being a robust field service weapon could very likely have been carried by Lewis during his later Indian War service.

Post-war, Major Lewis served with the short-lived 36th Infantry before transferring to the 7th Infantry in March 1869. Duty posts included Ft. Steele, Wyoming and Ft. Benton, Montana as well as a staff billet as Acting Asst. Inspector-General of the Dakota Department from 1871 to 1874. Here, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 19th Infantry in December 1873. Lewis then took brief command of the garrison at Baton Rouge before taking a five-month leave of absence. He reported for duty at Camp Supply in the Indian Territory and served briefly at Ft. Bliss, Texas before moving on to Ft. Dodge in March 1878 where he joined his regiment.

On September 25, 1878, Lt. Colonel Lewis commanded a mixed detachment of five companies of the 4th Cavalry (B, F, G, H, and I) with three companies of the 19th Infantry (D, F, and G) in pursuit of a Northern Cheyenne band with women and children led by Chief Dull Knife and Little Wolf. The Indians had so far eluded capture after fleeing the Darlington Agency reservation near Ft. Reno (Indian Territory) in an attempt to make their way to the Dakotas.

With Colonel Lewis’ detachment in close pursuit the Indians halted and set up an ambush on defensible terrain south of the Smokey Hill River on Punished Women’s Fork in present day Scott County, Kansas. Late in the afternoon on September 27, Lewis’ scouts were pushing into a canyon where the concealed Indian warriors waited. A careless warrior fired prematurely and alerted the cavalrymen to the trap. Lewis was able to extricate his lead elements and called for his infantry — carried in wagons — to come up while sending out riders to reconnoiter around the canyon.

Low on ammunition, the Indians were desperate to make their escape. Little Wolf quickly sent a group of mounted warriors against Lewis’ advancing infantry to cover the escape of the woman and children. As the Indians reined in and fired off their last shots a wayward bullet struck Colonel Lewis in the leg cutting his femoral artery. Under the cover of looming darkness the Indians managed to extract their band and crept off into the night. Twelve warriors were killed and wounded with about 80 ponies lost. Army casualties were one killed outright and six wounded. Colonel Lewis was put into a wagon and rushed to Ft. Wallace, Kansas only to bled to death during the trip. The fight at Punished Woman’s Fork was recorded as the last Indian fight on Kansas territory with Colonel Lewis, sadly, the final casualty.

A new post at nearby Pagosa Springs, Colorado was named in his honor but was soon abandoned. Another Ft. Lewis was established near Durango, Colorado. Colonel Lewis’ final resting place is unknown. He was originally buried in the post cemetery at Ft. Wallace “but his body was subsequently moved to another location,” not recorded. No identified photographs of Colonel Lewis are known to exist according to the website http://swcenter.fortlewis.edu

Parenthetically, Lewis’ final dispatch penciled on September 27, 1878 (being a terse status report without battle content or reference to Indians) sold at auction in November 1998 for $2420.


Condition:  
Sword is in excellent condition overall; the scabbard and handle have a nice dark untouched patina.
Sold: $0.00
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
      Ask a Question

All Images

19TH Century Sword Canes, Lot of Four
Lot # 728 - 19TH Century Sword Canes, Lot of Four
All with wooden shafts, one marked Solingen, one marked Klingenthal, Coulaux & Co.; the other two are unmarked. Various blade lengths. > Item Details
*Springfield Armory M1 Garand Rifle
Lot # 433 - *Springfield Armory M1 Garand Rifle
.30-06 caliber, 24" barrel, S/N 5449531. Barrel is marked SA F 6535 448 11 54 A216C; stamped trigger guard; trigger housing is marked 652829B-SA; flat OP rod marked 6535382 SA; receiver marked F6528291; hammer marked SA D5546008. Left side of stock has DOD eagle with 3 stars within a square cartouch... > Item Details
*WWI German  P08 Luger Pistol with Holster
Lot # 355 - *WWI German P08 Luger Pistol with Holster
9mm caliber, 4" barrel, S/N 2174u. Blue finish, walnut checkered grips. All visible numbers match including magazine: unit marked L.E. 109 on front grip strap; wood bottom magazine also marked 3, 109 and has 3 "kill notches." Original takedown tool. Brown leather holster maker marked Franz Cobad, Be... > Item Details
*U.S. Springfield Armory Model 1922 MI Bolt Action Rifle
Lot # 417 - *U.S. Springfield Armory Model 1922 MI Bolt Action Rifle
.22 LR caliber, 24" barrel, S/N 19499. Blue finish, walnut stock. Drilled and tapped on barrel and receiver for scope mounts, 1-30 barrel date, matching bolt. 1918 dated leather sling. > Item Details
U.S. WWI Model -1912 Cavalry Field Officer's Visor Cap
*Calico M900-S Semi-Auto Rifle
Lot # 836 - *Calico M900-S Semi-Auto Rifle
9mm caliber, 16" barrel, S/N E005767. Blue finish, plastic stocks; 100-rd. helical magazine. > Item Details
Revolutionary War-Era Wooden Canteen
Lot # 52 - Revolutionary War-Era Wooden Canteen
With handmade chain and wood plug. 17 staves with one stamped 53. Encompassed by two iron hoops. 5.25" height and 10.5" diameter. > Item Details
*Norinco SKS Rifle
Lot # 920 - *Norinco SKS Rifle
7.62x39 caliber, 20" barrel, S/N 23003112. Zytel synthetic stock and 30-rd. magazine. Original box and accessories including the original wood stock and 10-rd. magazine. > Item Details
*High Standard Model 10 Series B Semi-Automatic Police Shotgun
Lot # 684 - *High Standard Model 10 Series B Semi-Automatic Police Shotgun
12 ga., 18" barrel, S/N 3212776. Matte black finish, "bullpup" synthetic stock. > Item Details
Ornate Mexican Parade Saddle ca 1900
Lot # 346 - Ornate Mexican Parade Saddle ca 1900
Possibly from the Mexican Revolution. Horn with maker's stamp Fusier a Por Fermin Palma Mexico. Full "mochilla" skirt. Highly embellished saddle with various regions embroidered with silver thread that has tarnished to a brown/green color, indicative of old silver. The tooling, rosettes, embroidery... > Item Details
Gardner Gun Trials Photographs
Lot # 252 - Gardner Gun Trials Photographs
Lot of 2 photographs of English soldiers displaying the gun in studio. Each is a 6" x 8" print on a 10.5" x 13.75" mount imprinted with the address of photographer C.A. Gandy, and inked in the lower margin To Geo. W. Cox, with Compliments of [? possibly Jno. Horton], London England, Dec'r 12th 1884... > Item Details
German Zimmerstutzen Breechloading Rifle
Lot # 335 - German Zimmerstutzen Breechloading Rifle
4mm caliber, 27.625" barrel, S/N 4303. Double-set triggers, System Kessler Martini, correct sight, stock stamped number 2. > Item Details
Model 1847 Springfield Artillery Musketoon,
Lot # 230 - Model 1847 Springfield Artillery Musketoon,
.69 caliber, 26" round barrel. Dated on the tang 1851, V P and eagle on the rear left side of barrel at breech. Lockplate is dated 1851. Brass triggerguard, bands; steel trigger plate and buttplate. Walnut stock. This appears to be a cavalry Musketoon that was made into an artillery. It has no bay... > Item Details
*Browning B2000 Semi Auto Shotgun with Extra Barrel
Lot # 588 - *Browning B2000 Semi Auto Shotgun with Extra Barrel
12 ga., 26" IC barrel, 24" slug barrel with rifle sights, S/N 35489C47. Blue finish, walnut checkered stocks, made in Belgium, assembled in Portugal. > Item Details
U.S.  Model 1808 Contract Pistol by <i>J. Henry</i>
Lot # 42 - U.S. Model 1808 Contract Pistol by J. Henry
.56 caliber, 10" round barrel. Lockplate marked J. Henry, Phila. Brass furniture, with a copper sailor's heart inlaid behind the tang. Clear inspector's stamp V on the rear of the stock flat; walnut stock. Belt hook removed a long time ago. > Item Details
German WWII Officer's Sword by F. W. Holler
Lot # 761 - German WWII Officer's Sword by F. W. Holler
Lion head sword blade measures 32" and maker marked F. W. Holler. > Item Details
Sharps & Hankins Army Carbine
Lot # 227 - Sharps & Hankins Army Carbine
.52 rimfire caliber, 24" barrel, S/N 2478. Left side of frame has a saddle ring and is marked Sharps Patent and dated 1859. Left side marked Sharps & Hankins Phila. Brass buttplate; walnut stock. > Item Details
*Belgian Baby Browning Renaissance Semi-Automatic Pistol
Lot # 513 - *Belgian Baby Browning Renaissance Semi-Automatic Pistol
.25 caliber, 2" barrel, S/N 193450, nickel finish. Original blue leatherette felt-lined case. > Item Details
Pattern 1833 Dragoon Officer's Saber
Lot # 68 - Pattern 1833 Dragoon Officer's Saber
34" quill-back blade, engraved in script on the left side United States Dragoons. Brass backstrap and pommel, with brass knuckle bow and branches. Inspector's initials on the finial MS. Brass scabbard with inspector's initials on the drag. Leather and brass wire wrapped handle. > Item Details
WWII Nazi German P08 Luger Holster
Lot # 770 - WWII Nazi German P08 Luger Holster
Black leather holster with bml/42 maker's mark and WaA23 and eagle marks. > Item Details
ITEMS 1-20 of 20
SKIP TO PAGE: