Measurement: Overall length: 40.5"; hilt: 7", blade: 33”
Condition: The blade has been lightly cleaned and is now a dull pewter gray patina
with moderate light surface pitting from the foible forward on the obverse and about
from the point of percussion forward on the reverse. There is a very small, soldered
repair through the thin web at the base of the knuckle guard where the sword knot
would attach, and another very small trivial, soldered repair midway down that same
guard, neither are conspicuous.
Additional Information: Statue Hilt Presentation Saber to Brig. Gen. James W.
McMillan, by Collins & Co., Hartford, CT, From the 160th New York Infantry
A very stunning sword, rarely encountered with such a high quality ornate chiseled-in-
relief martial hilt, presented to a gallant officer by hard-fighting men under his
This sword displays martial panoplies and an extremely ornate chiseled and pierced hilt,
with a chiseled-in-relief silver Roman centurion. The blade is straight with a flat center
medial, each edge beveled. The obverse etching shows a standing Union infantryman
with his rifle-musket, with ornate flowing scroll beneath, above the scroll is displayed a
centurion breastplate with shield and fasces, more ornate scroll above this. The reverse
showing the Collins & Co. Hartford Connecticut marking with the same scroll, here the
Union infantryman bears the Standard of the Union, with more scroll above him and
“U.S.” in fancy script, more scroll above this. The heavy guard features ornate
intertwining foliate rococo scroll with a single outer branch having oakleaf and acorn
decoration to the knuckle bow. The backstrap shows thin incise plain and foliate ribs,
surmounted by a draped pommel with a spread-winged American Eagle at the buttcap,
surmounting a Federal Shield. The most striking feature of the hilt is the grip area which
shows a standing Roman centurion of silver, his gaze affixed left…left hand on sword
and right on shield which is faced with an image of Medusa. The throat is rather simple
and lightly engraved while each of the collars show open foliate and geometric
engraving with punch dot accenting; the top collar showing chiseled-in-relief fasces and
torch, the lower with a Federal Eagle surmounting Federal Shield. There is a rather
large tip [drag] chape about 5” in length showing open intertwining scroll and foliate
decoration with a furled blazon of flags tied with tassel.
The presentation is between hangers: “Brevet Maj. Gen./James W McMillan/from the
Enlisted Men of the/160th New York Volunteers/As a Token of Respect/April 1865”, just
below the lower collar is: “Conquer We Must/for Our Cause Is Just”.
James Winning McMillan, originally a Kentuckian who moved to Illinois, served his
country in both the Mexican American and Civil wars. He was appointed Colonel of the
21st Indiana Infantry and was with Butler’s forces during the occupation of New Orleans
in 1862, being wounded in the chest at Baton Rouge against Breckenridge’s forces. He
was promoted to Brigadier General in November 1862, which gave him command at the
brigade, and at times, divisional levels of the XIX Corps under Brigadier General Emory
from March 1863 to May 1864.
He was in the Red River campaign and active most notably at the battles of Mansfield
and Monett's Ferry, the latter where he and the rest of the 1st division held a steady line
rallying on despite the near panicked union retreat. After this action the XIX Corps
joined Gen. Philip Sheridan’s army of the Shenandoah; McMillan was wounded during
the Battle of Winchester when a shell fragment hit him in the head.
Later he would engage in the repulse of Jubal Early’s assault on Washington and
later his pursuit after the rout of Early’s forces. Interestingly, the 160th New York was
present at all these engagements, clearly under the command of McMillan in XIX Corps
at one point or other, one very notable historical entry during the Third Battle of
Winchester: “Upton sent Colonel Mackenzie and the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery
Regiment past the XIX Corps regiments to a rail fence where they fired upon Gordon's
right flank. They received unexpected assistance when Brigadier General James W.
McMillan from Dwight's 1st Division of the XIX Corps arrived with the 160th New York
Infantry Regiment and deployed on Mackenzie's right flank. This caused Gordon's men
to retreat, and Thoburn's men leapt the wall and attacked.”
McMillan was brevetted Maj. Gen. on March 5 of 1865 in recognition of his Civil War
service and resigned from the Army in May of that year, clearly this sword presented by
adoring men that he once commanded just after that promotion.