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WWI Navy Cross Recipient's Sword - Turn of the Century

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On the topic of old Navy swords, figured I would start a thread on this one. It is a Navy officer's sword from approximately 1896. The ricasso is marked "Shannon / Miller / & Crane" (a New York based firm that made swords from approximately 1867 to 1896). Unlike later swords, this model still has what I believe is rayskin on the handle.

 

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It belonged to Benjamin Grady Barthalow, who was born on February 6, 1878 in Kimbolton, Ohio. He was appointed as a naval cadet on September 5, 1896, which is approximately the time this sword was made and obtained by the veteran. After faithful service, he was appointed as a lieutenant commander on July 1, 1913. He moved up to Commander (his final rank) on October 15, 1917. During World War I, he commanded the USS Lenape, which was formerly a passenger ship that the Navy took command of in April 1918 to use as a convoy ship. While in command of the Lenape, he oversaw the transport of allied troops through German waters into European ports. For his service, he received the Navy Cross. Following the war, he was scheduled to get his own new ship to command. However, his health began to decline in 1919. On August 18, 1920, he died on an Army transport ship heading to San Francisco. The records conflict some on the cause as either being the flu or perhaps cancer. It is my guess he may have had some preexisting condition and was unable to fight off the flu (which killed so many at that time).

 

Here is a copy of the citation:

 

Barthalow, Benjamin G.

Commander, U.S. Navy

Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Lenape

Date Of Action: World War I

 

Citation:

The Navy Cross is awarded to Commander Benjamin G. Bartholow, U.S. Navy, for distinguished service in the line of his profession as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Lenape, engaged in the important, exacting, and hazardous duty of transporting and escorting troops and supplies through waters infested with enemy submarines and mines.

 

(Please note too that while period accounts and Mr. Barthalow's census indicates the spelling is BARTHALOW, you will find many online sources have perpetuated the typo made in Gleim's book, which is "Bartholow.")

 

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WANTED: USMC / Marine Corp items from all periods!

 

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!" - John J. Pershing

 

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More pictures. Ran out of space above:

 

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WANTED: USMC / Marine Corp items from all periods!

 

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!" - John J. Pershing

 

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BENJAMIN

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GRADY

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BARTHALOW

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WANTED: USMC / Marine Corp items from all periods!

 

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!" - John J. Pershing

 

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Here is the USS Lenape with WWI camo paint on it.

 

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WANTED: USMC / Marine Corp items from all periods!

 

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!" - John J. Pershing

 

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A beautiful sword with a great history. The Naval Officer swords are not much changed from the time the blade narrowed after the Civil War until the present day.


Steve B in Alabama.....Roll Tide


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A very nice Shannon, Miller, & Crane Naval Officer's sword. This is a difficult dealer to find on a sword. I particularly like the hand engraving on the scabbard mounts. Is the scabbard body metal or leather?


"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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Thanks for the compliments guys! Glad you enjoy seeing it. thumbsup.gif

 

I must admit that my favorite part is the fact he went the extra step to put his initials on the scabbard mounts. Definitely know it wasn't a marriage of two pieces.

 

A very nice Shannon, Miller, & Crane Naval Officer's sword. This is a difficult dealer to find on a sword. I particularly like the hand engraving on the scabbard mounts. Is the scabbard body metal or leather?

 

It's leather that is surprisingly in great shape..


WANTED: USMC / Marine Corp items from all periods!

 

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!" - John J. Pershing

 

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Great patina... so nice to see it left alone to age. Any idea of the material used on the handle grip... looks like ivory?



The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. (General A. A. Vandegrift, USMC, 5 May 1946)

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Great patina... so nice to see it left alone to age. Any idea of the material used on the handle grip... looks like ivory?

 

I believe it is shark skin or rayskin.


WANTED: USMC / Marine Corp items from all periods!

 

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!" - John J. Pershing

 

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The handle is, in fact, rayskin or shark skin. All models before the 1930's implemented these on the grips. With the advent of bakelite and plastics in the late 1920's and 1930's, the grips changed. It was much less costly to use plastic, and plastic tended to endure high stress environments (although dress swords usually weren't used in battle).

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My grandmother, ​ Alice Barthalow Johnson was Benjamin Barthalow"s sister. I have many old letters from him while he was away serving our country. And many personnel belongings of his but I had never seen the beautiful sword you have. Possibly we are related, would love to know if you are a descendant also.

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PM being sent. :)


WANTED: USMC / Marine Corp items from all periods!

 

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!" - John J. Pershing

 

donation2007.gifdonation2008.gif

donation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gif

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A very nice Shannon, Miller, & Crane Naval Officer's sword. This is a difficult dealer to find on a sword. I particularly like the hand engraving on the scabbard mounts. Is the scabbard body metal or leather?

 

The actual maker was The M.C. Lilley Co., Columbus OH.

 

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I recently acquired a similar sword belonging to Medal of Honor-winner Rear Admiral George Maus Lowry. Admiral Lowry was a 1911 graduate of the Naval Academy who won the medal for his actions as an ensign during the 1914 Navy capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico.

In 1914, Ensign Lowry led the First Company of armed Navy sailors from the USS Florida. Tasked with capturing the city's Customs House, Lowry's company became pinned down by "murderous rifle and machine-gun fire." Deciding not to risk his entire company in a frontal attack, Lowry instead asked for volunteers to approach the Customs House from the side. Lowry led five volunteers into a narrow alley, where they came under a cross fire from riflemen in the Customs Building and machine gunners in a nearby hotel. During this fighting, "A bullet clipped one of the buttons off Lowry's cap and another tore through his right legging, creasing the flesh". Two of his men were also injured, one being shot through the head and soon died. Lowry and his surviving men worked their way up the alley and scaled the wall around the Custom's House. After Lowry and his men smashed through a window of the Customs House, the personnel inside surrendered. Several days later, Lowry returned to the scene and counted numerous bullet hits on the wall he and his men had climbed. Lowry received the Medal of Honor for his actions. The citation read “For distinguished conduct in battle, engagements of Vera Cruz, 21–22 April 1914; Ens. Lowry was in both days' fighting at the head of his company, and was eminent and conspicuous in his conduct, leading his men with skill and courage.”

Lowry rose to the rank of LtCmdr before resigning from the Navy in 1927, after which he was a quite successful stock broker. When WWII broke out, he returned to the Navy and served until he retired as a Rear Admiral in 1947. He died in 1981 and his ashes were scattered at sea.

The sword was probably made by Ames, using a German blade, in about 1910. The 31” blade is marked “MADE EXPRESSLY/FOR/F.J. SCMIDT CO.” (a Washington, D.C. tailor shop which sold uniforms, etc) and is etched with the owner’s name “G. M. Lowry U.S.N.”. The scabbard, like yours, is a premium quality product with extra engraving on the gilt mounts. It does not, however have the owner’s initials on the top mount but rather a fouled anchor.

 

I am brand new to this site, and will need to figure out how to best post photos. In the mean time, if anyone is interested, I have previously posted a number of other photos of this sword on the following SFI thread, replies 44 and 46: http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.php?111916-US-Naval-Officers-Swords-1872-to-1942/page2

 

 

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Here are a couple photos of Adm Lowry, the first his Academy yearbook photo, the other from about 1926.

 

 

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Here are a couple photos of Adm Lowry, the first his Academy yearbook photo, the other from about 1926.

 

 

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