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Identified 9th Cavalry officer’s sword with great historical background.
The saber itself is an ordinary Model 1872 Mounted Officer’s type, with the military retailer’s name etched on the blade, “J.H. McKenney & Co., 141 Grand St. N.Y.” James McKenney, the senior, had gone into bankruptcy in 1882, and his son formed a new company J.H.McKenney & Co. in 1883. This date coincides with the transfer of its owner 2nd Lieutenant Gonzalez Sidney Bingham, who had left the 7th U.S. Infantry, and joined his new assignment with the 9th U.S. Cavalry.
It is most certain that the saber was purchased at the time of joining the 9th Cavalry, and there Lieutenant Bingham would remain with that regiment on the northern plains until 1895.
The saber shows use, but still retains a strong amount of original gilt finish (all brass furniture-80 percent plus). The sharkskin grip have wear, and two small age separations under the pommel cap; the twisted grip wire is intact. Branch guards, pommel and cap have floral work, with a Federal shield on the pommel. Scabbard ring mounts have that same floral work. The short drag on the scabbard is free of design, and here shows the most wear to the finish, yet a good amount remains. The nickel on the scabbard is generally very good to fine,with some nickel lifting near the lower ring mount, in an area of about 5 inches in length (not all one spot), due to rust coming through at this point. There is some lifting of the nickel in a few areas due to the rust build-up beneath the surface.
A 34 inch blade has mostly floral etchings on both sides of the blade, with a few panoplies of arms, and a spread winged eagle with “E.Pluribus Unum” on the left side of the blade, and Bingham’s name on the opposite side, “G.S.BINGHAM, U.S.A.” in English lettering. The blade is bright with light frosty etching mixing with the high polish on both sides. The original leather washer is still present on the underside of the hilt. There is a slight warp to the scabbard toward the lower section beyond the ring mount which causes some friction, but the blade will fit fully into the scabbard.
Gonzalez Sidney Bingham was born on October 10, 1857 in Pensacola, Florida, the son of Brevet Brigadier General Judson D. & Marguerite (Gonzalez) Bingham. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbian (new George Washington University) in 1877.
Bingham’s military career began on December 13, 1883, as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 7th U.S. Infantry, then stationed on the Northern Plains. He transferred to the 9th U.S. Cavalry the following August of 1884, where that regiment was serving on the Northern Plains as well. He would remain in the 9th Cavalry until 1895 (with exception to 20 days service with the 6th Cavalry in July of 1891). The 9th Cavalry at this time dealt with policing the plains, its garrisons covering Dakotas, and Nebraska (HQs at Fort Robinson, Nebr.). In 1890-91 the 9th was the first regiment to be sent to the field during the Sioux Uprising (Ghost Dances), in November of 1890, and was the last regiment to leave the following March.
Following his father’s career path, Bingham would be promoted captain, as an assistant quartermaster in May of 1895 and would remain in the Quartermasters Department until his retirement in 1911, having obtained he rank of colonel. During his service in the Quartermasters Department, Colonel Bingham has served at many posts in the states as well as in the Philippines, Hawaii, and in the Canal Zone.
An informative article in the San Francisco Chronicle, dated April 3, 1900, gives a good amount of further detail into his career and subsequent membership in several organizations that are recorded in his biography.
“Major Gonzalez Sidney Bingham, Quartermaster Department, U.S.A, until recently second in command at Schuylkill (PA) Arsenal, will play an important part in the future policies of the American Yukon. He is now en route to Seattle where he will meet with General George M. Randall, and assist that officer in his preparations of the erection of many military posts in Alaska. Major Gonzalez Sidney Bingham who was appointed a Second Lieutenant from civil life in 1883, is a son of Brevet Brigadier General Judson David Bingham, Assistant Quartermaster General, U.S.A., who retired in 1895 after forty-five years of service. Major Bingham bids fair to follow in the footsteps of his father in the Quartermaster Department. He is both an expert and an enthusiast in this important and vital branch of the service. The Pride of the major’s heart is his collection of Indian Trophies from the Sioux Campaign that brought about the death of General Custer. Major Bingham is one of the handsomest men in the service, a six-footer and an athlete. He has a wife and several children.”
Colonel Bingham’s biography list several organization he was a member in, including:
- Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
- Military Order of the Indian Wars
- Military Order of the Midnight Sun
- Military Service Institute
- Catholic Clubs (several through the U.S.)
- Lamb’s Explorers Club (New York)
- Arctic Explorers Club (Seattle, Wash.)
He was awarded a Campaign Medal for Indian War Service.
One of the several organizations, The Order of the Midnight Sun, I have yet to find out a great deal, other than a brief history: Taken from an article in the November 19, 2012 Skagway Sleuth; “In 1901, the most secret society in Skagway was the Order of the Midnight Sun which sought to overthrow the Yukon government and make it part of Alaska. It was made up of members of the Arctic Brotherhood another secret society, but one which furthered the interests of its members through brotherhood. Although no list of the Order members is known, the leader was Fred J.Clark…..” Interesting where all of this could go, but it is known that the Order did go head to head with Canadian North West Mounted Police in the Yukon, after the NWMP got wind of the plot to overthrow the Mounties and form an independent republic in the Alaskan boundary region. At his time the boundaries were not set while the Klondike Gold Rush was going on.
Time researching will most likely yield more details in the life and career of Colonel Bingham; certainly more is available in accounts of other officers from the 9th. I found one where Bingham was the officer of the day and was forced to put another officer in arrest for drunken behavior while with the 9th Cavalry. Also, and most interesting is the Alaskan history and the Order of the Midnight Sun, and his interest in Arctic Explorations.
This is a great saber with an appealing historical background that can still be uncovered.
|Dimensions||48 × 6 × 6 in|