Following the War of 1812, the State of New York awarded twelve swords to military officers who commanded troops within its borders. This example was presented posthumously to Brigadier General Daniel Davis (1777–1814) of the New York Militia, who died during an engagement at Fort Erie on September 17, 1814.
The sword's design reflects the classical inspiration of the Federal period. The hilt, with its downturned shell, is based on French Empire models. The image of Hercules and the Nemean Lion, emblematic of strength and courage, is probably copied from an English engraving after a Classical gem or cameo. The eagle-headed pommel, on the other hand, is typically American, as is the style of engraving on the scabbard, illustrating the battle.
Inscription: Inscribed on the scabbard: As a testimonial of the high sense entertained of the services and gallantry of Brigadier General Daniel Davis, particularly in the Sortie at Erie where he fell leading his fellow Citizens to victory, this Sword is presented by his Excellency Daniel D. Tompkins Governor of the State of New York pursuant to Resolutions of the Senate and Assembly of the said State to Alfred Davis, his eldest Male heir; engraved on plate: Brigadier General Daniel Davis, New York Militia; inscribed on the side-plate of the grip: Palomor(?) & Hinsdiali(?).
Marking: Marked within a rectangle on the blade: I T.
Alfred Davis, eldest son of Brigadier General Daniel Davis (presented to him on March 4, 1817; by descent through the family until 1921; sold to Summer Healey); [Summer Healey, New York, 1921–22, sold to Francis P. Gavan for $200]; Francis P. Garvan, New York (1922; his gift to MMA).
Belote, Theodore T. "American and European Swords in the Historical Collections of the United States National Museum." United States National Museum Bulletin (1932), pp. 30–31, no. 4, pl. 6 (similar swords of this type ill.).
Ensko, Stephen Guernsey Cook. American Silversmiths and Their Marks. Vol. 3. New York: privately printed, 1948. pp. 128, 199 (mark of John Targee discussed).
Peterson, Harold L. The American Sword, 1775–1945: A Survey of the Swords Worn by the Uniformed Forces of the United States from the Revolution to the Close of World War II. [1st ed.] ed. New Hope, Pa.: R. Halter, 1954. pp. 193–195, no. 160 (a similar sword presented by the State of New York to Maj. Gen. Jacob Brown, in the U.S. National Museum).
Peterson, Harold L. The American Sword, 1775–1945: A Survey of the Swords Worn by the Uniformed Forces of the United States from the Revolution to the Close of World War II. New rev. ed. ed. Philadelphia: Ray Riling Arms Books Co., 1965. pp. 193–195, no. 160.
Hamilton, John D. "Man at Arms for the Gun and Sword Collector." The Indian Princess and the Neoclassic Sword (July–August 1984), p. 42 (Targee swords discussed).
Hamilton, John D. "A Roland for an Oliver: Swords Awarded by the State of New York During the War of 1812." Bulletin of the American Society of Arms Collectors (October 1987), pp. 3–11.