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Historic 6th Alabama Officers Sword killed at 7 Pines, Virginia
Item #: df1
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Mitchell and Tyler foot officers sword of Captain Thomas H. Bell 6th Alabama Infantry killed in action at the Battle of 7 Pines. Nicely inscribed on the throat of the scabbard is Capt. John A. Bell 6th Alabama CSA. For many years since as early as 1885 there was some confusion as to who Capt. John A. Bell actually was. After 150 years extensive research by Nancy D. Rossbacher has concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that the sword in fact was Captain Thomas H. Bell of the 6th Alabama Infantry killed at 7 Pines. Evidently the engraver had misspelled the name when the sword was originally purchased. In 1885 an attempt was made to find the owner of the sword by the Mayor of Philadelphia Penn. to find the family of the Captain Bell. In the Advertiser of Saturday morning appeared the following paragraph: A sword bearing the name of "John A. Bell, 6th Alabama, C.S.A." was received by the Mayor of Philadelphia last week with the request that he try to find the family of the man and return it to them. The sword was captured by a resident of Philadelphia and a member of the Grand Army, who requested that upon his death an effort will be made to find Bell's family. The note attracted the attention of Mr. J. C. Hardwick, late of Co. E, 6th Alabama Regiment, a heroic soldier who served his people well, and he writes to the Advertiser that John A. Bell was captain of Co. A, 6th Alabama Regiment, and was killed at Seven Pines. Col. Gordon was commanding the regiment on that day. "Capt. Bell was from Henry County, Ala., I think from Columbia," writes Mr. Hardwick. "His company was the Henry County Blues, and at Seven Pines the day he fell twenty-seven of his men lay dead on the field. He was a brave and gallant soldier," concludes Mr. Hardwick, "and fell battling for his people. It is hoped that this notice may reach Capt. Bell's family in Henry County, if they still are there, and that they may succeed in recovering the sword. A letter addressed to Mayor (William Burns) Smith, Philadelphia, Pa., would no doubt be promptly answered. Montgomery Advertiser, March 29, (1885)." "...Col. Oates remembers Capt. John A. Bell, whose sword captured at Seven Pines is now in the hands of Mayor Smith, of Philadelphia, notice of which appeared in Sunday's Advertiser. Of Capt. Bell, Col. Oates says: "He was shot down at the head of his company, falling on his knees mortally wounded, and while in that position he drew his revolver and emptied every chamber at the foe, not more than thirty yards away. The brave man then fell back, exclaiming: "I die content, for I have the bravest company in the world!" Capt. Bell's people are now living in Henry County." Macon Weekly Telegraph, April 3, 1885. Sometime later the sword was sold to a Medical student from Arkansas while going to school in Philadelphia. In October 1911 his sister corresponds with a General Oxford of Arkansas and attempts to try to find the decedents of Captain Bell. In 1912 she is still attempting to find the family of Capt. Bell at the UDC convention in Richmond, Virginia. It is unclear if the Bell family ever received the sword. In 1956 it appears in the Phillip Medicus collection that was purchased by Norm Flayderman and which was sold for several years later. The sword retains all of it's leather grip and wire wrap. The blade is unetched and retains a deep mottled gray appearance. All the brass parts have a deep age patina. The leather scabbard is in good condition and entirely original to the sword.


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