810: Civil War grouping, Comm. Robert Townsend of NY
Civil War grouping belonging to Commander Robert Townsend (1819-1866) including a sea chest, naval sword, epaulettes, book & towel. Townsend's grouping was discovered at the family's estate sale in Colorado and the purchaser has consigned them. Robert first entered the United States Navy on August 4, 1837, serving first as a midshipman on the ship John Adams. In 1838 he was ordered to the battleship Ohio, then in each subsequent year to the sloop Falmouth, the steamship Missouri. In 1843 he was promoted to midshipman and served on the frigate Raritan, then a year later on the brig Porpoise. Townsend was the great grandson of Peter Townsend, whose iron works forged the Great Chain across the Hudson at West Point during the Revolutionary War, to prevent the British from taking control of the Hudson River. Robert himself commanded the USS Essex an ironclad river gunboat that, during the Civil War under Admiral David Farragut, was responsible for effectively taking control of the Mississippi River and cutting Confederate forces in two. Robert died of heatstroke in 1866 while in command of the USS Wachusett on the Yangtze River in China in 1866. His remains are in Albany Rural Cemetery under a carved marble monument with a great anchor on top. Sword description: Blade manufactured and marked Weyersberg Brothers, Solingen and the opposite side W. H. Horstmann & Sons, Philadelphia. This U.S. Naval Non-regulation Eagle head sword was made by W. H. Horstmann & Son, Philadelphia, between 1837 and 1843. The eagle head on the back of the guard stretches all the way to the ferrule. The knuckle guard has four branches into the counter guard, which shows a relief of fouled anchor and an eagle. The quillon shows a design of leaves ending in an acorn. There is also a hinged rear counter guard. The heavy quill back blade is deeply etched which when viewed from the side looks like a rope design. The blade is etched and needle engraved with a fouled anchor and the Native American Tecumseh, holding a hatchet. There is an eagle with wings spread and a banner with ï¿½E Pluribus Unumï¿½ under an arch of 13 stars. There appears to be a Native American headdress and the remainder of the blade is covered with leaves, flowers and stems to the end of the etching on the blade. The opposite side of the blade is decorated with a panel stating ï¿½United States Navyï¿½ , arrows in a quiver, shield, native American axe, crossed American flags all below an eagle with the same motif as preceding. Scabbardï¿½ Sharkskin covered leather, brass mounted the facing side engraved with a peace wreath at the top and a fouled anchor beneath. A scroll in copper attached to the opposite side bears the name Horstmann & Sons, Makers, Philada. It is presumed that this sword was purchased by Robert during his first tour of duty and subsequently used, as it was customary to continue the use of a naval sword, during the Civil War as well. Sea Chest description: Chest constructed of mahogany with dovetailed corners belonging to Commander Robert Townsend and identified on the lid in paint Commander Robert Townsend, U. S. Navy, 76 James St., Syracuse, N. Y. further marked Care of Chas. Maguire, Esq., 196 Front St., New York. Each end painted above the original beckets R. T. , U. S. N. Likely the chest that was sent back to New York after his premature death in China and containing his sword and epaulettes along with other possessions. Epaulettes description: Pair of Civil War epaulettes belonging to Commander Robert Townsend and housed in a toleware box. A single silver fouled anchor decorates the top of each as does the gilded button with American eagle and fouled anchor design. Book: Insight is gained into Robert's personal being with 21 answers to questions such as 1. What quality do you most admire? 2. Who is your favorite poetress? 12. What is the sweetest Word? He answers 'Home' this is signed by Townsend and dated Jan. 10th, 1865. Towel: A note attached describes it as a hand woven towel used by Capt. Robert Townsend while in the U. S. Navy. This was the grandfather of H. Eleanor Ware. In period script on the towel is written 'Townsend, 1852'. Provenance: By descent in the family to the grandson of Robert Townsend, Lt. Commander Francis Ware's widow Eva Ware to Mike Graham in March 2011. (See accompanying letter) Total Size: H. 16" x W. 42.5" x D. 18" Total Weight: 62.5lbs
Condition: Sword: Some blade discoloration and light rust. Scabbard: Brass hardware loose and missing the drag. Box: The box key missing and box was entered by altering the lock mechanism, split in floor of box, period reinforcing on corners with brass plates some of which are now split, beckets strong. Epaulettes: paint loss to box, some very minor deterioration to epaulettes. Towel: very good noting minor toning and fold marks.