Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, Ellenton Florida

After the Seminole War of (1836-1842) which removed many of the Native Indians from Florida, Congress passed the “Armed Occupation Act”. The act promoted settlement of the frontier and offered settlers 160 acres if they would cultivate 5 acres of property for five years. In 1843 Major Robert Gamble Jr. of Tallahassee claimed his acreage along the Manatee River, a region then remote from civilization with the hopes of establishing a sugar plantation. The Mansion took six years to complete using slave labor and local craftsman. Gamble eventually accumulated about 3500 acres and produced large amounts of sugar, but fortune did not favor his efforts. Natural disasters and a fickle Sugar market drove him into debt by 1856 forcing him to sell the plantation in 1859.

The Gamble Mansion or Gamble Plantation also known as the “Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park”, wow that’s a lot to say……also home to the Florida Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, located in Ellenton Florida on the Manatee River. The historic antebellum Mansion is the last remaining on of its kind in the Florida Western Peninsula. A 40,000 gallon cistern fresh water holding tank supplied drinking, cooking and bathing water for those on living on the plantation. At its peak the plantation had between 160-200 slaves maintaining the property and the fields.

The columns and the two foot thick walls are constructed of Tabby an indigos material that substituted for brick. Tabby is made with a mixture of crushed sea shell, lime and sand creating a perfect material for insulating the Mansion from the hot tropical sun and the many sever storms Florida is know for.

At the outbreak of the war in 1861 the Mansion was occupied by Captain Archibald McNeill the famous Confederate blockade runner. Archibald sailed from Europe to ports in the South with great success supplying the Confederacy with supplies needed for the war effort.

Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary of State and President Jefferson Davis escaped Richmond Virginia in April 1865, fleeing the Union Army that was tightening the noose around the Southern capital. Somewhere along there escape they separated and Jefferson was captured in Georgia and imprisioned. Meanwhile Judah who was arranged for the assassination of President Lincoln and feared he wouldn’t receive a fair trial headed further south making his way to the Gamble Mansion. Captian McNiell aided Benjamin in escaping to the Bahamas and then eventually sailing to England arriving with hardly any resources. He went on to establish a distinguished second legal career in London and in 1872 was selected as the Queens Counsel…..similar to America’s Federal Supreme Court Seat.

Meanwhile back in America, Union Raiders destroyed the Gamble Sugar Mill leaving only brick ruins today. However they did spare the Mansion and in 1925 the Mansion and the grounds were purchased by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and donated to the state of Florida as a memorial to Judah P. Benjamin who served three Cabinet positions under Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Today the Gamble Mansion serves as home to the Florida Division United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). In 1937 the UDC installed a memorial plague to Benjamin at the Mansion. Also on the grounds is the Confederate Veterans Memorial Monument erected October 10, 1937.

Ames Enlisted Model 1860 Cavalry Saber

Troopers in the field were unhappy with the model 1840 commonly referred to as the “old wrist breaker” they wanted a lighter and more maneuverable Saber. The new model 1860 Saber as the Ordnance Department response. The light Cavalry Saber had a blade that was shorter, not as thick or wide, and came with a scaled down scabbard to fit the new blade. The center of balance was moved back more toward the hilt by slimming the overall blade and the tip from the hatchet type tip to more of a sharp point.

So in 1857 the Ames Sword Company received a request from the US Government to provide sample patterns of a new light Cavalry Saber made after the French model of 1822 and referred to in the Ordnance Department records as the “new pattern”.

Pre War US Government procurements were as follows.

Prewar 1859-1860
Made by Ames
1856-57 – 1000
1858 – 1800
1859 – 5000
Total. 7800

Wartime 1861-1865
Made by Ames
1861 – 10000
1862 – ——–
1863 – 23500
1864 – 31000
1865 – 10000
Total. 74500

The sword you see here is stamped U.S. ADK, 1862 on one side of the ricasso and Ames Mfg. Co, Chicopee Massachusetts on the other side. One of the branches on the knuckle-bow has an inventory # 18320…..the drag plate on the scabbard is also marked ADK, these initials are of the weapons inspectors who’s name was King.

The blade measures 34” long and the handle is 5.5” for a total length of 39.5” with a small and a large fuller. The leather grip is in excellent condition and has 13 rows of brass wrappings. Overall this is a nice example of a Ames Enlisted Model 1860 Calvary Sword, in my opinion it’s a early version probably from the 1856-57 Government procurements.

If you have any questions about this sword or any of the other items in the Civil War Arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West