The Price of Freedom: Americans at War Home Collection Search

Object Record

Nelson Miles Presentation Sword
Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Other views

Nelson Miles Presentation Sword

Nelson Miles Presentation Sword

Catalog #: 35074    Accession #: 87861
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 12" H x 37" W x 4" D

Physical Description

Presentation sword of forged steel with a metal scabbard.

Specific History

This sword was presented to Nelson Miles from the state of Arizona in recognition of his services in connection with the capture of the Indian chief Geronimo and the removal of the hostile Apaches from that State.

The general type of this sword is the same as that regularly used by officers during this period. The blade is diamond-shaped, long and narrow, and bears on the obverse the legend, in script, "Genl. Nelson A. Miles, U.S.A." and on the reverse, "Presented Sept. 4, 1887 at Tucson, Arizona." The grip is made of imitation ivory and is decorated with eight spiral grooves wound with gold wire. The pommel is urn-shaped and the upper portion bears an eagle with a tomahawk and a peace pipe in its claws. A large sapphire is set in the end of the pommel, which is surrounded by floral designs.

The knuckle guard consists of a circular strip, about which is entwined the United States flag and which terminates at the pommel in the head of an Indian. The counterguard, which is in one piece with the knuckle guard, consists of an eagle displayed with three beaks which rise above the blade in the position of a quillon. The wing on the obverse of the blade is inscribed "U.S."

The obverse of the scabbard is decorated with designs in relief showing scenes connected with the expedition of General Miles against the Apache Indians and their removal from the Southwest to Florida. The reverse of the scabbard is inscribed in relief in script, "Presented by the people of Arizona in grateful acknowledgement of distinguished services in the capture and removal of Geronimo and the hostile Apaches." The tip of the scabbard bears a relief portrait of Geronimo.

General History

Nelson Miles was an often controversial and larger than life player in the Army's campaigns against the tribes of the Great Plains. After Custer's defeat at Little Big Horn, he forced the Lakota onto reservations. Miles was instrumental in the capture of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. In April 1886 Miles became Commander of the Department of Arizona, replacing General George Crook. In September of that year he finally brought about the surrender of fearful Apache leader Geronimo.


Country: United States
States: Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota
War: Indian Resistance
Service: Army
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Printable ScriptVisit the MuseumEducationCredits