Officer’s small sword with leather scabbard  
Unmarked
Continental Europe
1750-80

Small swords – so called because of their diminutive and dainty appearance when compared to other war sabers of the time - were the primary type employed by Patriot officers during the American Revolution.  Although overall this piece fits within the standard style most mid-18th century small swords, this particular piece is outfitted with a few upgrades likely ordered by its owner, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Unlike the many other inexpensively made small swords of the era, Pinckney’s is adorned with an ivory handle wrapped in a gold wire. Furthermore, there is evidence of silver plating on the brass hilt. Despite its lighter weight and elegant appearance, small swords were durable and sturdy; the concave triangular blade was far stronger than the average flat blade.

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a prominent Charleston attorney, was a member of several revolutionary committees but favored resolving differences with Britain until separation appeared inevitable.  A Continental militia officer during the Revolutionary War, he saw action in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida; served as an aide to George Washington; and commanded Fort Moultrie during the Siege of Charleston. He later resumed his legal and political career, served as a minister to France in 1796 and was the Federalist candidate for President in 1808. Click to view Pinckney’s silk diplomatic uniform jacket and his silver gorget.

Weaponry Wednesday: Each Wednesday we post an object (or group of objects) from the Charleston Museum’s diverse weapons collection. Many Weaponry Wednesday items may be on permanent exhibit in our armory or elsewhere in the museum, but some pieces rarely see exhibition, temporary or permanent, but are well worth sharing.  We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on WEAPONRY WEDNESDAY! Also, we always want to learn more about our collection - if you have some insights on a piece, please feel free to share!  #WeaponryWednes