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FETTERMANN MASSACRE SWORD, GEORGE W. GRUMMOND SWORD - Lot #4729

I know several of you collect Indian War weapons and artifacts. Here's one for you, the likes of which you'll seldom get an opportunity to purchase again. It is without question, one of the most important artifacts of the Plains Indian Wars to have ever been offered for sale. It deserves to be in the finest of personal or museum collections. There is so much information on this (The Fetterman Massacre), one of the key events in American History that it's mind-bogling. Search the net for more.

This sword is an imported, high-grade Staff & Field Officers Presentation Sword by Clauburg. It is in relic condition, obviously having been heavily field-altered and then exposed to the elements for a long period. In it's day, it was a beautifully gold-gilded, high-grade presentation sword with ruby or garnet stones decorating the pommel and an eagle-head quillon with ruby eyes. It is inscribed on its top mount, "Presented to Lt. Col. Geo. W. Grummond by the Staff & Line Officers of the 14th Mich. Vol. Infty, as a token of their esteem, Brentwood, Tenn. May 25th 1863".

George W. Grummond was one of the most controversial figures of the American Civil War and Indian War periods. He has been described as courageous, heroic, reckless and careless in varying accounts of both his military service and personal life. On the surface Grummond had enjoyed what appeared to be a stellar Civil War career, rising from sergeant to lieutenant colonel in the volunteer army. Closer inspection of his military record, however, reveals that the rapid promotions resulted from near-reckless bravery in battle. His sometimes irresponsible leadership was matched by his sometimes violent and drunken behavior off duty.

Grummond's conduct extended to his personal affairs. In 1862, during the second year of the war, he returned to his home in Detroit to recuperate from an illness. When Grummond re-enlisted in mid-1863 and left for Tennessee, his wife, Delia, was pregnant with their second child. A few months later Grummond was courting a beautiful Union sympathizer from a slave-owning family named Frances Courtney whom he had met while provost marshall in Franklin, Tennessee. In the Carolina campaign, he was sited for conspicuous gallantry leading the 14th when it captured almost 400 Confederates and the colors of the 54th Virginia and the 65th North Carolina regiments. When the war drew to a close, Grummond, instead of returning to his family in Michigan, headed to Franklin to "renew" his relationship with the clark-haired belle. Meanwhile, Delia filed for divorce and received a two-thousand-dollar judgment against Grummond in absentia on the grounds that he "grossly, wantonly, and cruelly refused and neglected" to support his family.

Grummond appeared unconcerned with such legalities; he had already been married to Frances Courtney for twenty days when the Detroit judgment was rendered. Fleeing his financial obligations, Grummond applied for frontier service and accepted a commission as a second lieutenant, a huge demotion in pay and prestige even for the postwar officer corps. In June 1866, Grummond was under the command of Colonel Henry B. Carrington as he advanced into the Powder River country, the hunting grounds of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Northern Arapaho. His objective was to protect emigrants traveling the Bozeman Trail. Carrington had 700 soldiers and 300 civilians under his command. He established three forts along the trail, including his headquarters at Fort Phil Kearny, near present day Buffalo, Wyoming. About 400 of the soldiers and most of the civilians were stationed at Fort Kearny. At Fort Phil Kearny the bigamist officer Grummond quickly resumed his dangerous behavior being nearly killed in an Indian ambush. Accounts claim after running out of ammunition, Grummond cut his way through a band of Indians with his sword, hacking their skulls left and right to escape, which he did successfully.

The great Chief Red Cloud and his people soon tired of the white presence. He chose 4 warriors, Crazy Horse, Hunts the Enemy, Man Afraid of his Horses and American Horse, making them "Shirt Wearers", a type of promotion within the tribe to plan and execute a raid on the Pony Soldiers. The result of their effort was the famed "Fetterman Massacre", one of the main reasons for America's aggressiveness against the Plains Indians. I had barely heard of the Fetterman Massacre until I purchased this sword. To read about it gave me a new understanding of both the respect and often times hatred of the Sioux and Cheyenne. These four warriors set a trap for the Long Knives, assembling an estimated 1,000 - 2,000 braves, ready in ambush. About 10 a.m., on December 21st, 1866, Carrington dispatched a wagon train to the "pinery" – about five miles northwest and the nearest source of construction timber and firewood for Fort Kearny. Less than an hour later, Carrington's pickets on Pilot Hill signalled by flag that the wagon train was under attack. Carrington ordered a relief party, composed of 49 infantrymen of the 18th Infantry commanded by William J. Fetterman, 27 mounted troopers of the 2nd Cavalry under the command of Lt. Grummond and two civilians armed with the famed Henry Repeating Rifles, James Wheatley and Isaac Fisher.

According to a Cheyenne informant named White Elk, who was interviewed as he walked the battlefield 48 years after the event, 10 warriors were chosen as the decoys to lead Fetterman into the ambush: two Arapaho, two Cheyenne, and two from each of the three Lakota bands present: the Oglala, Brulé, and Miniconjou. Approximately three times as many Lakota were in the battle as Cheyenne and Arapaho. White Elk said there were more Indians present than at the Battle of the Little Bighorn which would indicate an Indian force of considerably more than 1,000. Red Cloud was not present at the battle. To make a long story short, the soldiers were dispatched in under an hour, the result of the most terrible and barbaric slaughter recorded by the United States Army in the history of Indian warfare. The Indians had scalped, stripped, and mutilated the bodies of the soldiers. In his report to his superiors, Carrington listed some of the items he found on the battlefield the next day: eyes torn out and laid on rocks, noses and ears cut off, teeth chopped out, brains taken out and placed on rocks, hands and feet cut off, genitals severed and stuffed into unmentionable places, entrails scattered across the field, all muscles cut from virtually every body. The Oglalas seemed particularly vindictive towards the two civilian volunteers Wheatley and Fisher, who carried brand-new sixteen-shot Henry repeating rifles which may have caused a disproportionate number of Native American casualties. The two had had their faces 'smashed into bloody pulp, and Wheatley had been pierced by more than a hundred arrows. Carringtons official report claims that only six men were killed with bullets. The Indians killed most with arrows at first and waited for the Troopers to run out of ammunition. When that happened, the Indians closed in to capture and torture the survivors.

The last trooper to die in the battle may have been Adolph Metzger, an unarmed teenage bugler who used his instrument as a weapon until it was battered shapeless. Metzger was the only soldier whose dead body was not mutilated by the Indians, for they instead covered it with a buffalo hide. It is thought that the warriors left his body untouched as a tribute to his bravery in standing alone against several enemies. Passing the place where the greatest slaughter had occurred, a relief party marched cautiously along the trail. Bodies were strung along the road clear to the western end farthest from the fort. Here they found Lieuten­ant Grummond. There were evidences of a desperate struggle about his body. Eyewitness Indian accounts claim Grummond decapitated the first Indian that approached him with his sword and dispatched several others before he was pulled from his mount, then beaten and dismembered alive. His skull was crushed with a war club and head nearly decapitated. All his fingers had been removed and his body filled with arrows. The judgment of the veteran soldiers and the fron­tiersmen, who knew that to retreat was to be annihilat­ed, had caused a few to hold their ground and fight until they were without ammunition; then with gun-stocks, swords, bayonets, whatever came to hand, they battled until they were cut down. Grummond had stayed with them, perhaps honorably sacrificing himself in a vain endeavor to cover the retreat of the rest of his command. The Indian loss was very heavy, but could not exactly be determined. Possibly the greatest mountain man of them all was with the party that viewed the battlefield, Jim Bridger, and he cut a lock of Grummonds hair for Carrington to return it to Grummond's wife back at the fort.

As the years past, Carrington eventually married Grummond's widow. That's where this sword becomes very interesting. This sword was found around 2008 by a young woman in Wallingford, Connecticut. She was starting a framing business and the sword was in the wall of a home between the kitchen and living room that was being converted into her new frame-shop. You'll recall that Carrington was originally from that town. There is no question that this is George W. Grummond's sword. That is absolute fact. When studying the sword, it's apparent that the guard was clipped or cut off with some type of crude tool. It is heavily aged but retains etching and original gold wash on the blade. It's only my personal opinion, but I believe this sword was altered and carried by an Indian for a long time after the battle from where he captured it. It's also interesting to note that the shirt-wearer "Hunts the Enemy" changed his name after the massacre to "Sword Owner". He also had a brother named "Sword" or "Man who owns a Sword". According to my research, they are separate individuals. I believe that whoever captured the sword returned it to the Army or it was re-captured and turned in at a reservation and then forwarded to Grummond's (Carrington's) wife or to Colonel Carrington. Perhaps a historian can tell us more.

More research needs to be done on this important artifact. I ask that anyone out there that has additional information to feel free to contact me. Please note the addition photos to those of the sword as 1. The old man photo is Mountain Man Jim Bridger, 2. The Battle scene is an artists rendition of the Fetterman massacre, 3.The Indian and Trooper on horseback is an artists rendition of George W, Grummond and a mounted warrior engaging at the Fetterman Massacre, Last, the two photos of a young Officer are those of George W. Grummond.
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FETTERMANN MASSACRE SWORD, GEORGE W. GRUMMOND SWORD

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