Premier Firearms Auction
May 12, 13, 14, & 15, 2023
SWORD INSCRIBED TO EDMUND RUFFIN, THE MAN WHO FIRED THE FIRST SHOT OF THE CIVIL WAR.
Edmund Ruffin is the most famous “fire-eater” politician demanding secession years before the Civil War began. He was a brilliant scientist, writer, wealthy plantation owner, and even served in the war of 1812 in the Virginia militia. He witnessed John Brown’s execution. He traveled to Charleston to be part of South Carolina history when they left the Union first. Even though an old man, he donned the uniform of Charleston’s “Palmetto Guard” as honorary member at Morris Island. Due to his notoriety and friendship with commanding General P.G.T. Beauregard, he was given the honor of pulling the lanyard of cannon, firing first shot at Fort Sumter, 4:30pm April 12, 1861. War had begun.
36” overall, Ames cruciform 1850 militia sword engraved “E. Ruffin” & “PG” on either side of guard. 31” double edged blade signed “NP Ames / cutler / Cabotville” Mexican War era, solid brass scabbard is stamped “Ames Mfg. Co. / Chicopee Mass”, a later addition. This pattern was especially popular among officers in the South as noted by many photos, and images showing similar swords held by militia officers. Sword has an old locking wood case accompanying.
There are 2 CDVs of Ruffin accompanying sword. The first shows him seated with cane and hat, image has distinctive partial pasted Quimby, Charleston photographer’s label. The second is reproduction tintype of Ruffin at same sitting, same coat and hat, but now the addition of musket instead of cane, “PG” (Palmetto Guard) insignia on hat, cartridge box, strap & belt. Inscription on back of CDV “Fired the first shot at Fort Sumter. Killed himself in 1865 because he refused to live under the United States government”.
This sword was in noted collection of Don Bryan and his letter of history and provenance accompanies sword.