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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.

1813 British Capture: US Navy Blue & Gilt Sword of Capt W H Allen, USS Argusimage v45 1

Sales enquiries

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!

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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 to Plymouth.

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 1970s/80s.

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