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Cool Things - Blunt's Sword & Accoutrements

Blunt's presentation sword

James Gillpatrick Blunt was the only Kansan to attain the rank of major general during the Civil War. This is his sword.

A native of Maine and a physician by profession, James Blunt settled in Anderson County, Kansas, in 1856 as a free-state advocate. He became acquainted with John Brown and James Lane, both of whom had reputations for erratic behavior. Lane became one of the state's first U.S. senators, and used his influence with President Abraham Lincoln to make Blunt a brigadier general.  Blunt took command of the Army's newly formed Department of Kansas.

Blunt's connection with the volatile Lane cast suspicions on him, although initially his Civil War career soared. Success in a series of battles and skirmishes late in 1862 gained Blunt a promotion to major general. Much of this reputation was undone on October 6, 1863, when Blunt and his escort were routed by William Clarke Quantrill near Baxter Springs. Some professional standing was regained during the Price Raid of 1864.

Blunt with his presentation sword, epaulets, and sashBlunt's prominence occasionally brought him gifts from admirers. After his promotion to major general he was presented an elaborately designed sword made by Tiffany & Company of New York. The sword was a gift from Captain Merritt H. Insley and Alexander McDonald. Insley, a Leavenworth hotel owner, served in the Army Quartermaster Department at both Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott. McDonald was a Fort Scott businessman, and in 1863 was awarded the position of post sutler at Fort Smith, Arkansas. After the war he became a U.S. Senator from that state.

The sword's grip is inscribed, "From I. and Mc. To Maj. Gen. J.G.B." Patriotic images are inscribed against a gilt background on the sword blade. The hilt is made of cast silver, gilded except for the cannon-shaped grip.

Blunt also used major general's epaulets made by Tiffany & Co. The sword and epaulets were given to the Kansas Historical Society in 1920 by Blunt's son and daughter, Rufus G. Blunt and Mrs. J.H. Gillpatrick.

In 1936 another Blunt artifact came to the Historical Society. Grandson and namesake James G. Blunt donated a Henry rifle that had originally been presented the General by the officers of his staff. Gold-plated, the gun is inscribed with the General's name.

All are on exhibit in the main gallery of the Kansas Museum of History.

Entry: Cool Things - Blunt's Sword & Accoutrements

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 2000

Date Modified: November 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.