May 16, 2020 09:00 AM EDT Asheville, North Carolina


Rare and Important General Felix Zollicoffer's Civil War Foot Officer's Sword

30 in. blade ornately etched in Roman letters "CSA", brass hilt and guard, sharkskin grip with twisted wire; leather scabbard with brass mounts; Officer's sash, likely associated; includes sell sheet from Gary Hendershott, images of College Hill Arsenal, notarized statement from descendent, family information from UDC Zollicoffer-Fulton Chapter 16

Note: This is the very sword carried by General Zollicoffer the day he was killed at Mill Springs in Kentucky, January 19, 1862.

Felix Kirk Zollicoffer, 1812-1862, was born in Maury County, Tennessee. By 1841 he was appointed Attorney General of the State of Tennessee as well as Comptroller. Within eight years of that appointment, he was in the State Senate and later elected to Congress to represent the Nashville District, a post he kept for three consecutive terms. 

By all accounts he was a devoted Union man, but continued aggravation of the Lincoln elections drove him over to the Confederate side. When war eventually broke out, he organized the Tennessee Army for the Confederacy and was appointed Major General of state forces in May of 1861.

In January of the following year, he found himself in command of four thousand men at Mill Springs, Kentucky. Recognized by Union Kentuckians hiding in the woods, Zollicoffer met his demise shot from his horse by multiple balls.

Daniel Hartzler, author of Confederate Presentation & Inscribed Swords and Revolvers, describing this sword writes:

 "This unmarked, brass-hilted, foot officer's sword was made at College Hill Arsenal. The large, plain pommel has a nice oval area in the front, a large encircling ring and a two-step circular build up. The knuckle bow is pierced for a sword knot, has two lateral lines which come down and form the edges of the guard and meet out on the flat-sided quillon which bears a feather. The counterguard is pierced and bears flowers, leaves and scrolls. The grips are covered with sharkskin, wound with twisted brass wire that slants from the knuckle bow towards the front. The reverse side of the grips are badly indented, supposedly from the fall of Zollicoffer when he was killed. The blade is square-backed, slightly curved, has a fuller on each side and is etched in a simple pattern of rhythm of fern along with diagonal ribbon strips. In a scalloped box are the letters 'C.S.A.' in heavy modern Roman letters. This is the third different style of lettering used for the initials of the Southland on Cunningham's swords. The reverse side is also etched in stylized ferns that are open and tightly closed along with slanted lines appearing as ribbons." (p. 338-339)


Provenance:Donald R. Tharpe Collection; offered by Gary Hendershott, Sale 154, Lot# 1504 for $75,000; Property From a Franklin, Tennessee Historic Home


retains 90% original gilt (carried for less than six months before Zollicoffer was killed in action), hilt with noticeable bend from when he was shot by Union soldiers and fell from his horse; scabbard with some distress to leather, currently supported by a splint; associated sash with considerable wear and deterioration 

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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