Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Sword of T.H. Stevens from the War of 1812


Sword presented to Lt. Thomas Holdup Stevens for action in Battle of Lake Erie

Title: Sword, Presentation, Lt Thomas Holdup Stevens
Accession #: NHHC 1982-65-C
Circa: 1813
Size: 34.75 x 3.5"
Medium: Steel, Brass, Ivory
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command

This sword was presented to Lieutenant Thomas Holdup Stevens by the city of Charleston, SC for his conduct during the Battle of Lake Erie on 10 September 1813. Stevens commanded the sloop USS Trippe (1812) and engaged in battle with the English sloop Queen Charlotte. The Trippe also assisted USS Scorpion (1813) in pursuing and capturing two enemy vessels.

The sword has a steel blade with gilt and bluing decorations. The blade is inscribed “The Citizens of CHARLESTON to Lieut. THOMAS HOLDUP. He was in the Battle of LAKE ERIE.” The sword is silver hilted with heavy gilt wash finish. The eagle head pommel is typical of the period. Rococo knuckle bow is heavily decorated with a lion’s head and floral designs. The grip is made of incised ivory with a diamond cross-hatch pattern. The large turned down counter guard bears a relief design of the battle of Lake Erie with two wooden sailing vessels engaged in naval combat while a third is sinking in the background.

The obverse of the scabbard is heavily decorated and divided into four parts. The mouth is decorated with a band of grape clusters and grape leaves. The first section from the mouth has an etched design of a fouled anchor with foliage. The second section has an etched design of Neptune holding a trident with a US flag, riding in a sleigh drawn by two sea horses with a small figure ahead blowing a horn. The third part has an etched design showing a scene from the Battle of Lake Erie. The image shows a burning ship with a broken mast and a small boat with four occupants trailing behind her. The fourth part bears an etched design of a large anchor and shield with flags, cannon, and a stack of cannon balls.

Published: Tue Apr 14 08:59:53 EDT 2020