Congressional Presentation Sword and Scabbard of Major General John E. Wool (1784–1869)

Sword cutler: Samuel Jackson (American, Baltimore, active 1833–70)

Date: 1854–55

Geography: Baltimore, Maryland

Culture: American, probably Baltimore

Medium: Steel, gold, brass, diamonds, rubies

Dimensions: L. with scabbard 39 3/16 in. (99.6 cm); L. without scabbard 38 13/16 in. (98.5 cm); L. of blade 31 7/16 in. (79.9 cm); W. 5 5/8 in. (14.3 cm)

Classification: Swords

Credit Line: Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Goelet Gifts, 2009

Accession Number: 2009.8a–c


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.