and Tinder Box, owned by early Texas Republic, and later Confederate personality, Spruce McCoy Baird (1814-1872). Baird was an early Texas immigrant who rose to military and civil prominence. The sword and other items offered here have descended directly in the Baird family.
Includes the following:
1. Ames M1833 Texas Officer’s Sword. Brass knucklebow and pommel, 34.25" etched quill-back blade with military motifs and the Texas star on the left side with the marking TEXAS between the star points having another star on the reverse blade. Ricasso marked Ames Sword Company/Springfield, Mass (no date). Shagreen grip with brass wire wrapping, tip of quillon stamped WS for Ames inspector William Smith. (See Hamilton, 1994:117). Metal scabbard. The sword retains an early buff leather sword knot and one buff leather hanger.
2. Half plate ambrotype portrait of Spruce Baird wearing a military greatcoat over civilian clothing, circa 1860.
3. A zinc tinderbox containing a strike-a-lite, and matchlite, ca 1850s-60s.
4. A notarized letter from Baird’s Cincinnati, Ohio descendants attesting to the provenance of the collection.
History and Rarity of the Ames Texas Dragoon Saber
In January 1840 William Henry Daingerfield, Commissary of Purchases for the Republic of Texas ordered 280 enlisted pattern Dragoon sabers and 40 artillery swords followed by 18 Dragoon officer sabers on February 4 for the small Texas army (see Hamilton, 1994:34 for a discussion of these purchases, along with illustrations of the original invoice). The single crate of 18 Ames M1833 officer swords is thought to have been brought back to Texas personally by Daingerfield and distributed directly to officers, and never put into arsenal inventory. Because of their limited production, any edged weapon made for the Texas Army is an exceptional rarity. Indeed, until this example was discovered during a routine Cincinnati, Ohio house call by Cowan’s employees, only two other Dragoon officer’s sabers were known to exist. Of these, only one – the saber of Capt. John C. Hays, founder of the Texas Rangers - carries with it any provenance. Baird’s saber is only the third example to survive.
Spruce McCoy Baird (1814-1872)
Born in Glasgow, Kentucky on October 8, 1814, Spruce M. Baird would become something of a frontier legend in his time. Baird was a teacher before migrating to Texas and establishing a law practice in Nacogdoches. Prior to the Mexican War, Baird acted in some as yet undefined official capacity as a dispersing agent on behalf of the Republic of Texas. Whether Baird held a Texas commission is unknown, but several handwritten documents authorizing funds to be paid to Texas militia companies during the 1842-1844 period are held in State Archives. Still, Baird is not found as an officer on The Military rolls of the Republic of Texas 1835-1845. An article entitled "What Became of Judge Baird?" written in 1940 suggests that Baird served in the Mexican War, to whit: Then came the Mexican War and Spruce thought that perhaps he could improve his situation by joining the invasion, so he enlisted in a Texas company recruited by Captain (afterwards Governor) Wood and was off south of the border down Mexico Way. No record of Spruce M. Baird as a Texas volunteer officer can be found in Heitman. Given the provenance of this saber, it is almost certain, however, that Baird held some officer’s position in the Texas Army.
Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Governor Wood appointed Baird a judge of the newly formed Santa Fe County in far western Texas territory in what is now New Mexico. Fractious border politics intervened, and Judge Baird was stymied in his attempt to organize the county under Texas jurisdiction. In 1850 the disputed territory was formally ceded to New Mexico as a result of the compromise. Out of a job, Baird joined the New Mexico bar and later secured a position as Indian Agent to the Navajos. In 1860 Judge Baird was appointed Attorney General of the New Mexico Territory, but simmering tensions in the east foretold of Civil War.
A Kentuckian by birth and Southerner by persuasion, Baird was forced to abandon his wealth and property in New Mexico when the rough and tumble Confederate Army retreated back to Texas. Reactionary Federal authorities indicted the judge for high treason in March 1862, confiscating an estimated 30,000 acres of property owned by Baird in what is now the city of Albuquerque. An ardent secessionist, Baird began to recruit troops for the re-conquest of Arizona at Eagle Lake, Texas, and in 1862 was commissioned Colonel, Provisional Army of the Confederacy.
By the end of the year Judge Baird had formally organized the 4th Texas Cavalry, Arizona Brigade, taking command of the under-strength regiment in February 1863. Recruiting lagged and Colonel Baird and his officers were forced to relocate to the Pecos River in far western Texas where draft evaders, deserters, and other rift-raff who had drifted into the no-man's-land between Confederate Texas and Union-held New Mexico were signed on. Not until late in 1863 did the regiment finally take the field, organized into two battalions commanded by Colonel Baird and former California politician turned soldier Lt. Colonel Daniel Showalter.
The 4th Texas-Arizona Cavalry, as it was styled, was almost immediately broken up with Showalter's battalion sent to Fort Washita in the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) where it engaged hostiles in November 1863 and Baird's battalion to Brazoria on the Gulf coast. Baird's battalion did not see any action before being ordered to San Antonio in anticipation of a Federal sea-borne invasion. The unified battalions of the 4th Texas Cavalry were then assigned to a new command known as "The Cavalry of the West" under the authority of Colonel John Salmon Ford, an eccentric known as "R.I.P. Ford." Transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department, Ford and the 4th Texas fought a series of successful engagements on the lower Rio Grande pushing Federal forces back and capturing the stronghold of Brownsville in July 1864.
It seems that Colonel Baird did not participate in any of these actions. When his battalion was ordered to San Antonio in February 1864 Baird objected to serving under Ford over a point of seniority. Judge Baird's colonelcy was Provisional Army of the Confederacy while Colonel Ford had been commissioned by the state of Texas. Baird felt he had a stronger claim to overall command and pressed the point with his superiors who rejected his argument. It is uncertain whether Colonel Baird ever formally resigned his commission, but shortly after losing his appeal (February 1864) he turned over command to Lt. Colonel Showalter "and left." Later in the summer the regiment under Lt. Colonel Showalter would play a distinguished role in the capture of Brownsville and the Gunboat USS Ark.
Colonel Baird's subsequent service to the end of the war is clouded in some controversy. Subsequent research suggests that Colonel Baird may have been given authority in June 1864 to raise a command of 100 men for the purpose of harassing Union supply trains on the Santa Fe Trail and that the company became a battalion by October 1864, also under Baird's command. An affidavit dated May 3, 1865 places Baird's illusive command at Gainesville, Texas in Cooke County and states that the unit included some of Quantrill's and Anderson's bushwhackers and that the unit mutinied when ordered to leave Gainesville. A Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph report dated May 24, 1865 wrote of "the capture of Baird's command by two Confederate regiments near Gainesville, Texas on or about May 1, 1865."
Colonel Baird was paroled in July 1865 and in 1867 relocated to Trinidad, Colorado in the Spanish Peaks country where he resumed his law practice and dabbled in land and cattle. Eccentric to the end, it is said that Judge Baird assumed the unusual habit of wearing his bright red flannel underwear on the outside over his clothing. The 1870 Census lists Judge Baird and his wife Cassandra (m. 1848) with three teenage children, Bowdry (19), Helen (17), and James (14), all born in New Mexico Territory, living in Golden, Colorado. Judge Baird died at Cimarron, New Mexico on June 5, 1872. Evidently, in the 1880s his remains were removed to the Baird family plot in Golden, Colorado where the consignor's grandmother was born.
Descended Directly in the Family of Spruce McCoy Baird
Condition: Shagreen handle has darkened and shows minor scuffing at the top around the pommel. Some scuffing on the handle. Brass hilt, pommel, and knucklebow have nicely tarnished. Etched panels are visible, but show wear. Blade has some salt and pepper pitting from the tip coming up about 10". Some salt and pepper throughout the blade. Edge of blade has been sharpened. Scabbard is covered in a light coat of surface rust leaving it brown and speckled with salt and pepper staining. Original buff leather saber knot and one hanger probably later added and more than likely was used during the Civil War.