US Navy Blue & Gilt Sword of Capt W
H Allen, USS Argus, Sold
In overall good though aged condition, by repute, the 1813 British
Captured US Navy Blue & Gilt Sword of Captain William Howard
of the USS Argus.
There is very strong provenance (see further below) that this is
the sword of US Navy Captain William Howard, who was captured after
being mortally wounded and was buried with full military honours
by the British on the 21st August 1813, in England.
We hope this sword returns to our former foe but now valued ally,
the United States, and hopefully his family descendants can be traced
in order to reunite them with his sword. But we will, of course,
sell to anyone who would like to own it!
The 28 1/2 inch blade is in very good condition for its age and
sea service; much blue and gilt etching remains. The blade is firm
in the grip but the hilt has movement and the backpiece has bent
a little outwards. The chequered ivory grip shows its age with cracks
and some loss under the eagle head pommel. The scabbard leather
is really aged and the bottom fitting (chape / drag) is missing.
The sword sheathes and draws well.
A superb evocative sword and a great investment at only £?
(too late, now sold). Please quote item reference V45 (0983). Further
/ full sized images available upon request.
Commander William Henry Allen was born in Providence, Rhode Island
1784 and entered service with the US Navy as a midshipman in April
1780. He received the rank of Commander in July 1813 and Captained
the brig USS Argus, eluding the British blockade off the Atlantic
coast and undertook a successful commerce raid on merchant shipping
in the English Channel and Irish Sea.
After the capture of nineteen ships, the Admiralty sent out orders
for all ships to hunt down the Argus and on the 14th August 1813,
HMS Pelican sighted the Argus 15 miles southwest of St David's Head
and engaged her. Though the Argus was faster, Allen decided to engage
HMS Pelican and early on during the battle he was mortally wounded
by cannon fire. HMS Pelican captured the Argus and she was taken
Though the Argus ship's surgeon had amputated Allen's leg, his condition
deteriorated and he was moved to Mill Prison Hospital where he was
attended by Sir George Magrath. Captain Allen died on the 18th August
from his injuries. He was buried on the 21st August 1813 with full
military honours. It is believed that Sir George Magrath was presented
with Captain Allen's sword after the funeral and it remained in
his possession until his death in 1857. Upon his death, Sir George
left his whole property to his nurse of five years Miss Palmer.
The sword was acquired by the previous owner (before us) when the
Palmer family estate was sold at auction in Plymouth during the