A sword that once belonged to Civil War General Samuel R. Curtis is now part of the museum collection at Pea Ridge National Military Park thanks to funding from Eastern National. Read on to learn how Chief of Interpretation Troy Banzhaf leveraged the park’s relationship with Eastern National to procure this important historical artifact.
For the past several years, we kept a close eye out for museum artifacts to enhance the museum experience for visitors at Pea Ridge National Military Park. Our museum has a lot of educational exhibits but little in the way of actual battle-related artifacts.
In May, I received a phone call from Jay Teague, the owner of Historic Antique Arms, and he explained that the family of a prominent Civil War collector was selling off part of a major collection of high-grade American Civil War swords. Included was a presentation sword of Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis, the overall Union commander at the Battle of Pea Ridge. The sword is inscribed to General Curtis and was purchased and given to him by the officers of his staff in January 1862, just before the Pea Ridge campaign began. Jay asked if the park would have any interest due to the Curtis connection. I told him absolutely!
Jay sent me several photos of the sword, and I did research on the sword as well. The sword is a beautiful Ames pattern 1850 staff and field officer’s sword with scabbard. The sword itself has a few nicks on the blade, but otherwise it is in fantastic condition and has wonderful blade etching. The inscription on the scabbard is still in very good visible condition. The sword has several wear spots along the side and on the rings of the scabbard from the actual wearing of the sword. Since Curtis was a newly minted brigadier general far out in the Trans-Mississippi Theater, this sword was most likely worn by Curtis during the Pea Ridge campaign and beyond. The wear marks along the spots of the scabbard would attest to that.
Thanks to our partnership with Eastern National and the funds in our Eastern National donation account, we were able to purchase the sword and bring it home where it belongs. If not for this partnership, the sword would have likely gone to a private collector, and both the public and the park would have lost an important piece of Pea Ridge history. This is not the first time that Eastern National helped purchase important museum artifacts for the park. We truly appreciate all the help Eastern National has been able to give us, and we look forward to our continued partnership into the future.
Photo: Left to right: Troy Banzhaf, Pea Ridge National Military Park chief of interpretation; Helena Adcock, EN Southern regional manager; Megan Shelley, EN chief operating officer; and Latisha Pippin, EN site supervisor, with General Samuel R. Curtis’ sword.
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