TYPE: Sword/Scabbard
DIMENSIONS: The sword, approximately 39 1/2" long overall
COMPONENTS: The sword and its engraved scabbard are impressive. The sword bears a sharkskin-type wire-wrapped grip, still tight, with just a few nicks, with circular bands with oak leaf wreaths above and beneath. The cast bronze pommel above is decorated with an American eagle and shield on the reverse, with a sunburst design on top. The hand guard likewise bears American shield and eagle designs, and the inside guard folds down. Interestingly, a whistle is built into the crossguard as well! Half of the steel blade is etched with flags, eagles, shields, etc, and remains very clean and bright. It bears a hallmark of a walking bear-like figure, unknown to us. The polished steel Scabbard bears three highly-detailed gold (plated?) decorative additions, namely an eagle with outstretched wings, a full standing knight in armor, and as a drag, an assemblage of flags and flag poles.  Between the top two scabbard adornments appears a period engraving: "Presented to CAPT. WM R. STAFF by the non commissioned officers of Company 'B' 49th U.S.V. Infty. San Francisco June 30th 1901".
CONDITION: Sword fits very tightly into scabbard, else both are in very good to fine condition.
NOTES: Imorptant artifact.
ITEM ID: 3614
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Presentation Sword Given to African-American Captain William R. Staff, Hero of San Juan Hill

DATE
Year: 1901

An extraordinary presentation sword given to Capt. William R. Staff, a hero of the Battle of San Juan Hill who served with the 24th U.S. Infantry from 1892 to 1897 and re-enlisted in 1897, joining the 49th U.S. Volunteer Infantry.  Staff’s full records are also included, including an 1895 enlistment document indicating him initially as being a “Negro”, later changed to “Light mulatto” with a citation noted at the change. Other records show Staff enlisted in Co. C, 24th Infantry (Colored) at Fort Leavenworth on June 30, 1892 and re-enlisted in June, 1897 at Fort Douglas, Utah as a private. Promoted to captain in the 49th U.S. Vols (Colored), he served during the Philippine Insurrection, at the siege of San Juan and at San Juan Hill. Major A. C. Markly, commander of the regiment, commended Staff for bravery at San Juan Hill: “Srgt. Staff… cutting the wire entanglements under fire, and afterwards commanding a squad of the thin line holding the hill to the right of Fort San Juan with no intrenchments… is suitable for a commission in the U.S. volunteers…” A copy of a full-length photo of Staff in uniform is also provided, with additional extensive records.