Posted May 2015

If you have a Civil War item that you can't identify or something you want to know the value of, contact John (mail: Box 510, Acworth, GA 30101; email John at with Civil War in the subject line or call 770-329-4984 or 770-974-6495). John needs a good description of the item, condition, manufacturer's marks and any other markings, and photos. Please Note: All questions MUST be accompanied with a Photo, it should not be more than 200k in file size.

Hello, as I was going through some things in my grandfather's storage, I came upon a travel trunk. Inside, it contained around 40 documents and more than 100 handwritten letters, all from the Civil War. They are in excellent condition. I found some of it very interesting: records, a daily log of the signal officer’s report, and a letter from years later recounting a battle and capture, just to mention a few. I also came across this belt buckle and this unknown item.

Apparently, my grandfather was related to this man, Capt. James M. McClintock, who was a signal officer with the Union Army and served under Grant and Sherman. I'm hoping you can help me in finding out if there is any value to the collection. I have attached a few pics to give you an idea of what I'm talking about; however, it’s only a fraction of what I have. I am having trouble finding someone in San Diego to look at them.

JS: Your documents are from a notable Civil War officer, James M. McClintock, who was a member of the elite U.S. Signal Corp. A brief biography about him taken from the Huntington Library where his journals are deposited: "James M. McClintock (1839-1921), a Union officer from Coshocton, Ohio. In Apr. 1861, he enlisted as a private and, upon the expiration of his three months service, he re-enlisted on Sept. 1861 in the 51st Ohio Infantry Regiment and was commissioned as Captain of Co. F. Early in Jan. 1862, he was detailed by the War Department to the U.S. Signal Corps. He remained with the U.S. Signal Corps for the duration of the war, rising to the rank of Captain and Acting Chief Signal Officer of the Army of the Tennessee. McClintock served with Grant during the Vicksburg Campaign and with Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea. After the war, he established a woolen mill and mercantile business. In 1884, he and his family moved to Vashon Island, Wash., taking up a homestead. James M. McClintock died in 1921 in Seattle."

Hand-drawn map of Confederate positions at Arkansas Post (Ft. Hindman) and Union approaches, $400-$500.

There are other official documents of Captain McClintock at the Library of Congress. Your documents tell a bit of his personal wartime and postwar story. There is a rare wartime map showing the Confederate positions at Arkansas Post and Union approaches on the Arkansas River—that is the most valuable piece here. The overwhelming defeat of 550 Confederate defenders against more than 30,000 Union soldiers and sailors set the stage for the Vicksburg Campaign. The long postwar letter from a member of the 6th Texas Cavalry defending Arkansas Post telling of Confederate valor at the post is very good and a great complement to the map.

You sent copies of about a dozen pieces, and they all appear in excellent condition. If the other 50 documents and letters are in same genre, your group would be a good candidate for auction as an archive. McClintock was a well-written officer among the Signal Corp and is even depicted in a painting by renowned Civil War artist Don Troiana, showing signal officers in front of Ft. McAllister, near Savannah, Ga., on a signal platform.

Valued as single pieces of paper, the muster-in document sells for $20-$50, and the discharge and enrollment documents with imprinted eagle vignettes sell for around $75-$125 each. The wartime map of Arkansas Post (Ft. Hindman) might bring $400-$600 with the postwar 6th Texas Cavalry letter, but as an archive with other documents in auction, the group could bring several thousand dollars. I would recommend finding a good historic auction to sell this in.

A "sticking Tommy" candle holder, $100-$400.

Capt. James M. McClintock

The buckle Captain McClintock brought home as a souvenir is a South Carolina militia buckle circa 1840 and appears in fine condition with good patina. Similar buckles sell for about $2,000 in the Civil War market. It would not enhance your archive so it should be sold by itself.

Your other "spiked" iron item is popularly known as a "sticking Tommy;" the straight spike end or the small curved hook "sticks" into wood or other appropriate material for support, and the round end holds a candle. They were used historically by miners, and many are signed by blacksmiths or makers. Typically, these are priced at trade shows for $100-$400, depending on the vendor and the markings. 

Hi John, I have seen your articles and wanted to see if you could help my Uncle and me with a sword that he has. It is a sword from the Nashville Plow Works Company. He says it is the real deal and not a reproduction. We know that there are many reproductions of this sword out there. The interesting thing about this sword is on the handle; it has been inscribed with the name “Cpt P Kemmett” with a marking after his name. We have tried searching for the name on Google, and other Civil War websites and have not run across anything on him. Have you ever seen the name before in your research or the marking that is after his name? Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated.

JS: I hate to be the one to tell you, but not only is the sword not original and not the real thing, it is indeed a newly made "fantasy" piece. Nashville Plow Works never marked their blade with maker’s information. 

John Sexton is an independent appraiser and expert of Civil War memorabilia. He is an accredited member of various appraiser organizations. He can be contacted at 770-329-4984 or If you have a Civil War item for him to appraise, email a photo and a description to .




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