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West Point Cadets' Swords are Swords traditionally worn by cadet Officers of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. They are issued only to Officers for official
ceremonies such as parades, formations, and drills. Cadets always carry their swords while on guard duty; others who carry swords include the Officer of the day, cadets who are under arms,
honor council members at hearings, the color guard, and the band Drum Major, and, of course, graduation. The U.S. Army Generals continued to wear silk sashes in full dress until 1917.
"Today the West Point cadet officer is the only person in the Army who wears a sword and sash, the sole guardian of the tradition."
1802 to 1839 Model 1802
There are many questions about the first cadet-store-issued swords. There are no known examples, nor are there any photos. Most students of the subject believe that from 1802 to 1839, the sword probably looked like (or was) the French Grenadier Sergeant's model sword used in the Revolutionary army.
Sales are limited to cadets past and present.
Cadet swords made from 1839 to 1872 are very rare. The hilt is made of solid brass and the wire wrap grip is silver plated. Only 200 swords were ordered for West Point and there are only a few known examples of 1839 swords. West Point has two, the Springfield Museum has several more, and there a few in collectors' hands. The Springfield Armory Museum is said to have several prototypes of this sword. Harold L. Peterson points out in his book, The American Sword, that the Springfield Armory ordered the swords in odd lots of 40, 18, and 20. In all, a total of 200 were received.
1839 to 1872 Model 1839
This sword was never sold to cadets.
Ames made 40 for VMI. The difference is detectable in the makers' marks. The sword cost $11.00 for the first 100 before the price was cut back to $10.00. Copies of the orders from the Springfield Armory to Ames the contract maker are shown in his book the order clearly shows that they are ordering swords and not sabers.
The Board of Visitors of the Military Academy made a study of this matter in 1837, and reported to the Secretary of War that there was "a great want of swords to supply the cadets who, from time to time, act as commissioned and non-commissioned officers of their battalion. The present swords were used during the Revolution, are worn, scarcely capable of use any longer, and entirely unfitted for the purpose. A plan of a sword is understood to be in the War Department. The Board finally recommended a new West Point sword be adopted and issued to cadet officers, and two years later, in May 1839, these new swords arrived. They were straight-bladed with a brass hilt. The guard formed a simple cross--and this fact has led to the story that they were modeled after the swords carried by the Crusaders. It is more likely that they were modeled after the style of sword carried by the Finance Corps.
1868 to 1922 Model 1872
There is a lot to this so I created an eBay guide to include every thing I know about this very special sword check it out if you want the full story.West Point Cadet Sword M-1872 to 1922 Complete History
1923 to present: model 1922
The sword used today by cadets, the model 1922, is a slightly modified version of the cadet saber adopted in 1872. Both types have a cruciform hilt of gilled brass, with silver-colored grips. Both are engraved with U.S.M.A. custom-etched on the front side of the double-edged blades, and nickel -plated-steel scabbards with gilt-brass mounts. The principal difference between the earlier and the present version is the change to a new ornament on the crossguards, which now displays an oval emblem bearing the helmet worn in greek mythology by Athena, whose helmet design was incorporated into the Academy's heraldoc arms and insignia in 1922. The 1872 sword had its MA displayed in the oval. The first two contracts went to Ames and Rock Island Arsenal and the swords & scabbard had serial numbers as seen below. It is unknown if serial numbers were on all swords or just the sword produced by the Rock Island Arsenal.
The named sword V.B.H. listed below is in inventory as was given to the museum. "SWORD - U.S. SWORD MODEL 1922 WEST POINT CADET SN# 191 Maker/Manufacturer: ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL Catalog Number: SPAR 6602 Object Description: U.S. SWORD MODEL 1922 WEST POINT CADET SN# 191 Manufactured by: Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Il. Weighs 1.8. lbs. Complete with scabbard. Blade: V.H.B. U.S.M.S. Quillion: DUTY-HONOR-COUNTRY-U.S.M.A. Scabbard: 191
Cadets had no use for this type of sword in the Army, as officers, they carried the 1902 Army saber, so most cadets did not want to spend the money for a custom sword so they purchased a used one or took a issued one.
Ames, Lilley Company
M.C. Lilley & Company
Lilley-Ames Company of Columbus, Ohio
M.S. Meyers N.Y.C. N.Y.
Gemsco Inc. New York
Horstmann Company Philadelphia PA
Selling and other issues
U.S.M.A. cadet swords are copyrighted by the academy and are only sold at the Academy's cadet store. The sword is issued to cadet seniors for free, but must be returned at the end of their senior year. Any cadet or alumnus can buy a new sword for their own. The sword is made today only by WKC Stahl- und Metallwarenfabrik in Solingen, Germany.
This sword is not allowed to be sold new by anyone other than the cadet store at West Point. The Cadet Store today looks to the DOL-LLSO which is now the group accountable for the new design following strong historic references to the past cadet swords. These are ordered for and sold exclusively through the Cadet Store and to the WS4 as their only issue points.
Some retail outlets sell this sword new on the internet, in violation of West Point's policies. The West Point Book Store has never put in an order for sabers: they have only ordered swords.
"the only saber issued to cadets was between 1839 and 1947 and it was a light cavalry sword used for 108 years during mounted drills and tactics".
The Cadet's first saber
The West Point Cadet is never issued a Saber nor are they allowed to carry one. Commissioned Officers are allowed to carry the Army model 1902, carried in a scabbard hanging from a shoulder belt known as a baldric or from a waist-mounted sword belt. This is not an issued item and most officers today do not buy their own until they have a need for it.