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Thank you for looking at my historic sword.

If you have studied anything about The Battle Of The Little Big Horn, then you will be familiar with the puzzle of "swords at the battle". This is not a subject for debate as many would have you believe. The fact is “The 7th Cavalry left its sabers at the Powder River depot before its march up the Rosebud to destiny at Little Big Horn”.
AT THE BATTLE OF THE LITTLE BIG HORN!Please see image #4. This evidence unequivocally proves that swords
were present and used at the battle by Native American forces!The following Native Americans have affirmed by drawing or account:
Amos Bad Heart Bull ~ Oglala
Red Horse ~ Minneconjou
Standing Bear ~ Minneconjou
Two Moons ~ Cheyenne
Yellow Nose ~ Ute
*This is by no means a complete list. The National Park Service documents a sword recovered from the battle site in 1918 (see image below)
Battle Of Little Big Horn Inscribed Sword
1876 liberty was barely 100 years old and growing up as fast as the cast Iron wheels of the steam engine could take her. Gone like yesterday's sunset was the misery and death of her children who dressed in blue and gray murdering one another as brother fought brother.No nothing would stop her now and the victorious President Grant would lead her west where there was land, gold and riches untold for the taking. The only thing that stood between liberty and her dreams were those bow bending savages.

A perfect egg yolk yellow sun began to rise sluggardly along the horizon and its heat gently burned off the early morning fog, creating a halo among a few sleepy slow-moving clouds in the perfect blue sky.
All this beauty just above a dusty patch of ground with foot-high grasses transitioning from green to the color of hay and rippling together in unison an ocean swaying in the gentle morning breeze as Sunday, June 25, 1876, awoke on the little bighorn.

Sunday, June 25, 1876; a date that will never be forgotten, the day when the Army of the United States intended to capture the brave Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Warriors.On that fateful day when liberty lost her innocence, somewhere between the acrid smoke of battle and the carnage one of these warriors dropped this sword.
It is documented that Native Americans possessed Napoleonic Swords and they were used as both ceremonial pieces and weapons.
Many of these swords were obtained by French fur traders. In 1870 these “antique” weapons were a highly regarded "military surplus" by the Indians of the Great Plains.
(As Image 5, & 6 Exhibit)
If you go to National Park Service Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, you will find another sword that was discovered at the Little Big Horn in 1918.
Courtesy of the National Park Service, Little Bighorn Battlefield National MonumentLIBI_00822_01251, broken blade, grips missing, very badly rusted. Found in 1918. Because swords and sabres were not used in field at this time it is not an army relic of the I have been collecting and purchasing swords since the mid-1980s.
It is the love of these weapons that has taken me weekend after weekend to flea markets, antique shops, basements and anywhere I can find a vintage sword.
One Saturday morning a few years back took me to a flea market in central New Jersey. A new vendor had set up shop and had 2 swords on his table. One was a War of 1812 Eagle head officers sword; the other a relic that I believed at the time to be a Prussian Blucher model 1811. I quickly purchased both and when I arrived home I lightly cleaned some of the dirt and grime off of the model 1811 blade. To my surprise the following inscription in gold began to appear:

“Found at Gen- Custers Slaughter By The Indians”

This inscription appears to be in style, dialect, substance and a script period to mid 19th century.

The gentleman who sold the sword had no knowledge of swords or that an inscription was on it. This was a doorstop to the seller! (I continue to go back every week and have never seen this vendor again. which sucks but is the nature of an outdoor market)

I called a friend who is also knowledgeable on swords explained my find and we both belly laughed out loud and immediately dismissed this claim. This sword is a Prussian Blucher 1811 and these are ALWAYS U.S. veteran pick-ups from WW1 and WW2.

I sent pictures to some experts and everyone agreed it was most probably a Prussian 1811 based on length and tip. So my friend and I had a good laugh and I put this sword away.
This sword continued to nag at me in the back of my mind.
(If you are a collector and you know an object has a story that has not been told to your satisfaction, that object resonates in your subconscious brain and pulls you back to it.)
This sword pulled me back to it!

I proceeded to go over this sword (painstakingly) centimeter by centimeter with 25x magnification and then it appeared on the spine not legible to the naked eye. “Josh H. Reddel & Co”. (picture 6) More research and the realization that his WAS NOT a Prussian sword but an English Model 1796 light Cavalry sword. This sword had been cut and rounded at the tip. So I think, “ok cool,” but this still makes it an antique during the Indian Wars and puts it over 4,000 miles away from the plains of Montana.

So I get a headache, and put this sword away again for some time, until I stumble upon this line on the internet; Native American Weapons: “There are many references in literature – descriptions, drawings, and pictographs of swords by North American Indians Many of them were probably the English, Model l796, light cavalry sword which were surpluses after the Napoleonic Wars These were sold throughout the American West, and one outlet in the l840s was the Bordeaux Trading Post near present- day Chadron. They became a type of status symbol, particularly among some of the plains tribes”. It starts to appear to me that the story of this sword being picked-up on a Montana battlefield is not as funny as I had originally thought.

The tedious research has begun and the more knowledge I acquire about the little Big Horn the more I genuinely
believe this sword was:
“Found at Gen-Custers Slaughter By The Indians”I have always thought is that this sword was picked up by a Trooper or Officer early in the game
possibly in one of the burial expeditions or not long after!** see"General Edward Settle Godfrey"response below
I have has so many emails from ers, I truly would like to than you all! Many respected professionals both in the U.K. and U.S. have shared their knowledge on this subject, which supports my belief in the inscription.
This sword has been exposed to the elements for a short time.
I base that on my experience with swords, some 33 odd years, with the emphasize on odd.

1796 English light Cavalry sword
Manufacturer: Josh H. Reddel & Co (Stampted On Spine)
Length blade 30.5” shortened, spear point removed, improper sharpening*
(*Indicative of Native American ownership as per an renowned expert)
Sword hallmarks: Josh H. Reddel & Co (spine)
Small English crown (right side fuller hardly visible through rust, visible only with 25x magnification only)
Troop markings F over 13
Inscription in gold almost completely faded:
“Found at Gen Custers Slaughter By The Indians”
I particularly like the verbiage “Found at Georg- Custers Slaughter By The Indians” , we really do not use the word slaughter* in modern speech, it adds to the provenience of this sword. I also like the script used as it appears to be period also. *On July 4th, 1876, 235 members of the Seventh Cavalry signed a petition asking General Sherman to promote Major Reno to Lieut-Col here is a excerpt: "that the vacancies among the commissioned officers of our regiment, made by the *SLAUGHTER of our brave, heroic, now lamented, Lieut-Col. George A. Custer"
Many prominent archeologists, sword experts and even forensic investigators worldwide have contributed and helped me, I have included their remarks. (Happy to provide full letters upon request)
I am continuing my research and listing this in hopes of more information from you!

I gladly accept any intelligent opinions or perspective on this battlefield relic.

I am aware that the 7th. Cavalry did not carry any swords at L.B.H.

(possibly two "may" have been on the battlefield carried by U.S. Army )

Some quotes from some of the top experts on Little Big Horn this sword and the model 1796:

“I applaud your caution, but in this case I think you really may be on to something.

First there is the fact that, as you have determined, huge numbers of old 1796s were commonly available in the Old West. One might also just reinforce the point with the observation that the 1796 is arguably the most successful sword in history, both in terms of its excellent design and graceful form, but also its ubiquity. It is still easy to get one- they are great swords and not very expensive, even today.

I find it perfectly plausible that your sword belonged to a Sioux warrior or leader. In my experience, when swords come with fantastic stories attached to them, they are, most often, obviously untrue- clearly, the date, context and identity of the sword easily rules out the romantic associations attached to it.

But when everything about the sword is consistent with the story that has formed around it…. this makes me sit up and pay attention. When object and story agree, it can be an indication that the story is true.

The balance of probability seems therefore to be in the favour of the idea that this sword was indeed in Indian hands. The fact that the blade has been altered (incorrectly) is also evocative of this scenario.

**I am sure your sword was part of the General Edward Settle Godfrey Collection of New Hanover Township, New Jersey. I have seen somewhere an accounting of his war souvenirs. When the General died in 1932 (Cookstown, NJ) many of these prized possessions found themselves sold to local New Jersey curiosity seekers and collectors. I would check to see if you can find the inventory list estate contents of his house.

“The gold painted lettering is interesting. After the CW many GAR halls and lodges painted their enemy trophies and weapons gold.”

“The research article from 1980s Museum of Fur Trade describes in detail how the 1796 Light Cavalry Sabre became a highly desired trade good with the Indians. I became very interested in the topic as I obtained the Sabre in the picture above that was plowed up in a field in the early 1900s in northwest Kansas by a homesteader.”

“It is well known that Native American warriors frequently had swords as a part of their paraphernalia. It is not well documented in regard to whether they used swords in battle. The swords that were acquired by Native men were often decorated with beaded leather and fur/feather trailers.”

“I can very easily see how the story goes from disbelief and laughter to ‘hang on a moment, what’s going on here then?’, particularly after you had identified the sword type and maker of the sword, ‘Josh H. Reddel & Co.’ (is a second ‘l’ visible, at all?).I presume you already are aware that this sword–cutler company is noted as having been active in Carey’s Court, Birmingham (UK), between 1816-21. Joshua H Redell & Co, was a noted supplier of swords to the British Government. The mark you describe as ‘F 13 Small English crown’, which would appear to be the Viewer’s Mark, would perhaps make more sense if it was read ‘Crown over B over 13’ as the letter refers to the place of manufacture (the number refers to the viewer). Do you think the ‘F’ is all you can read of a possible ‘B’?

As to it’s being found on the site of an Indian Wars battlefield this is not at all impossible; as you have noted various swords were exported around the world and no doubt one may have ended up in North America. The fact that this sword was reputedly found in Montana, and bears indications that associate it with the site of the Custer battle, obviously takes the story of this sword to a possibly different level. The story is not, in itself, intrinsically impossible

Anyway you are taking quite the right approach; cautious further research may prove the story of this, potentially, fascinating sword.”

“Thank you for your e-mail; yes this is indeed a P1796 sword and I can tell you that J H Reddell was active between 1816-21, making this a late production of the pattern.
It was common, as you say, for swords to be carried by others long after leaving the hands of the British.”

I am continuing my research and listing this in hopes of more information from you!
I gladly accept any intelligent opinions or perspective on this battlefield relic.

From an er 11/8/19 every bit of information helps thank you!!“I have studied the battle for 40 years now and I know that a Lakota warrior carried a saber that he had cut down and reshaped. I know that he went into the battle with it and that is all I remember. Let me dig into my books and I will send you the information. I am currently writing a book about the battle I am very knowledgeable about the battle and the warriors that fought there. I believe that you have a great piece of history and I hope that I will help clear up some of the mystery of the sword. If I remember correctly I believe that the warrior was killed or wounded there. I have the type of mind that retains information and I just have to shake it up.”
*Excerpt from Yellow Nose account:
"The appearance of this man was so striking and gallant that Yellow Nose decided that to kill him would be a feat of more than ordinary prowess. Yellow Nose was armed only with an old cavalry saber, having lost his gun. This saber had belonged to a boyhood friend, a Shoshone, at whose death his mother had given the saber to Yellow Nose. The battle had gone against the soldiers so heavily at this point that the officer stood finally alone. With saber drawn, Yellow Nose rode headlong at his enemy, prepared to cut him down at a stroke."
Courtesy of misanthropus
*See Yellow Nose drawing 1889 (sword) | Smithsonian Institution

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