This extraordinary American Civil War presentation sword is among the highest grade and most ornate of its kind ever made. Crafted by the renowned Ball, Black & Co. of New York, the exceptional sword was presented to Charles J. Stolbrand, a Swedish artillery specialist who emigrated to the United States during the Civil War to serve as a brigadier general of the Union Army. The sword was presented to him by Svea, a Swedish society in Chicago, as a symbol of his countrymen’s pride in Stolbrand’s military achievements.
The design and quality of the sword is simply magnificent. The stunning 32 ½” Damascus blade is intricately adorned by numerous patriotic motifs, from an eagle with ribbon stating the motto of the United States, E Pluribus Unum (“Out of many, one”) to stars and an array of arms. The brass scabbard is similarly elaborate, decorated with high relief mounts including an applied silver wreathed “U.S.” Perhaps the most impressive decoration is the full-standing American Indian brave with a tomahawk and quiver of arrows that forms part of the ornate grip, designating it as a purely American sword.
The inscription to Stolbrand can be found on the blade itself, and it reads “Presented to Brig. General C. J. Stolbrand by his countrymen of Chicago, March 25, 1865.” Stolbrand had been appointed to the rank of brigadier general just over a month earlier, on February 18, 1865. In order to commemorate the occasion, the Swedish association Svea in Chicago prepared a celebratory reception for Stolbrand, along with other Swedish soldiers of the Sparreströmska battery. The reception for them all took place in Chicago’s German Hall, and it was there where Stolbrand was presented with this specially made sword from his fellow countrymen. It is a testament to the pride the Chicago-based Swedes had in Stolbrand’s achievements, and the sword represents the recognition and respect that followed his efforts on American soil.
Stolbrand began his military career in Sweden at the age of 18, when he entered the Royal Vendes Artillery as a cadet. During the First Schleswig War in 1848, Stolberg took part in the successful defense of Denmark against Prussia. However, when fighting neared an end in 1850, Stolbrand cut his ties with the Swedish army in order to move with his family to the United States. Initially living in New York, the Stolbrands eventually settled in Chicago, where he made his living as a land surveyor and county clerk.
When the Civil War began in 1861, Stolbrand organized a volunteer artillery company, which became Battery G, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery, with himself as captain. He was later promoted to major and eventually brigadier general thanks to his remarkable success as an officer of the artillery. According to Colonel Hans Mattson, it was General Sherman himself who recommended Stolbrand to President Abraham Lincoln for his promotion to brigadier general. It was shortly after that historic moment when he was presented with this extraordinary sword by his fellow countrymen as a symbol of his remarkable service to the Swedish community in Chicago and to the United States of America.
Tack General!, Recito Förlag, 2011, by T. Risbecker, p. 53 (illustrated)