I'm Richard Spring, an intern for the San Diego, California, County Historian. We need help in identifying a saber that purportedly was recovered from the site of the Battle of San Pasqual, a small but fierce Mexican War engagement fought near San Diego in December, 1846. If the saber is indeed from the battlefield, it is a very significant piece of both California and U.S. military history. The combatants were General Stephen Kearney's First U.S. Dragoons accompanied by frontiersmen including Kit Carson, versus Californio lancers led by Andres Pico, the younger brother of California's Governor, Pio Pico. Unfortunately, the saber was donated to the county in the 1930s without precise provenance. However, we cannot yet rule it out, and we would greatly appreciate any assistance you could give us.
The saber is modified and in poor condition, but it appears to be an M1840. The blade has a square back and the front of the brass quillon has a ridge around it, both of which are characteristic of the pattern. However, at some point the saber's grip was covered by crude piece of leather sewn over the wooden handle. Two branches of the knuckle bow were cut off, and the blade was probably shortened (it measures only 30" long). It appears that the ricasso may have been pushed into the hilt and the end of the blade screwed to the grip. This makes identification difficult as we can't see any manufacturer's marks. Also, the drag is missing from the scabbard. In order for this saber to have been present at the battle, I believe it probably has to be a very early M1840. Perhaps an S&K or an Ames. I think any later versions were probably delivered too late to have made it to the First Dragoons in time for the battle. We have no other information about the specific attributes of these sabers. If it is indeed an early M1840, it's authenticity will remain a fascinating possibility.
Our goal, of course, is to make an accurate classification, regardless of the saber's origin. Do you have any saber experts who can help? I have jpeg photos I can send. Again, thanks in advance for any assistance you can give us.
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