Congressional Presentation Sword and Scabbard of Major General John E. Wool (1784–1869)
Samuel Jackson (American, Baltimore, active 1833–70)
American, probably Baltimore
Steel, gold, brass, diamonds, rubies
L. 39 3/16 in. (99.6 cm); L. of sword 38 13/16 in. (98.5 cm); L. of blade 31 7/16 in. (79.9 cm); L. of scabbard 31 7/8 in. (81 cm); W. of hilt 5 5/8 in. (14.3 cm);
Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Goelet Gifts, 2009
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 372
This sword was awarded by the United States Congress to General Wool in 1854 in belated recognition of his pivotal role in the American victory at Buena Vista (February 1847) during the Mexican War. The massive gold hilt incorporates the American eagle as the pommel, an ear of corn for the grip, and a cactus branch entwined with snakes (for Mexico) as the cross-guard. The sword's elegant proportions, novel design, sculptural conception, and superb finish make it an outstanding example of mid-nineteenth-century silversmithing. As the blade is by a Baltimore cutler, Samuel Jackson, the hilt and scabbard may be the work of a Baltimore silversmith not yet identified.
Inscription: Inscribed within a shield with stars and stripes, applied to the eagle's breast on the hilt: BUENA VISTA / FEB. 22 & 23 / 1847; on the blade, within a scroll in the mouth of an eagle: E PLURIBUS UNUM; stamped on each side of the base of the blade: SAMUEL / JACKSON / BALTIMORE; engraved on the outer face of the scabbard between the ring mounts: Presented to / Major General John E. Wool a testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of / his gallant and judicious conduct at the battle / of BUENA VISTA, in accordance with a Joint Resolution approved / January 23rd, 1854.