Civil War Navy POW Carved Powder Horn ID'd Paymaster George W. Simmons USS Clifton Sabine Pass Texas

Our Price: $ 3,500 

Civil War Navy POW Carved Powder Horn ID'd Paymaster George W. Simmons USS Clifton Sabine Pass Texas.

Near dawn, on the morning of September 8, 1863, a Union flotilla crept up river with the purpose of invading and occupying Texas. Prior to the Battle of Sabine Pass, there was little action for the Confederate forces. Some of the officers occupying the area were sent there as punishment. To combat boredom, soldiers practiced firing rounds at range markers placed in the river. Their adept shooting served them well and thwarted the four Union gunboats and seven troop transports. Their victory resulted in the capture of 300 Union prisoners and two gunboats. One of the gunboats captured was the USS Clifton which is depicted in detail on this horn.

George W. Simmons is listed in a number publications related to the Harvard Class of 1861. One was published in July 20, 1864 where he is noted as being prisoner in Texas with 'Hopes soon to be exchanged. Another, called 'the fifth report' with sketches of Harvard Graduates, class of 1861, published in 1892. George Washington Simmons Jr, of Boston, was born July 4, 1839. Completing his studes in Europe and the Holy Land.  June 10, 1863 he sailed on USS Clifton as acting assistant paymaster and was taken prisoner September 8, 1863, with most of the Clifton's officers and crew, at the Battle of Sabine Pass. He was sent to Houston, Texas, and afterward to Shreveport, La, where he escaped, only to be recaptured within 75 miles of the Union lines. He was taken back to Shreveport, then back to Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas. His service is also listed in 'The Harvard Graduates Magazine' of September, 1911. 'taken prisoner and confined till March, 1865; exchanged; resigned, June 14, 1865.'

After Simmons was exchanged one of his drawings of the interior of Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas was made into a woodcut and published in the March 4, 1865 issue of 'Harper's Weekly'. Simmons must have had some artistic ablility and it is quite likely that Simmons carved his own horn.

After the Civil War, in 1874 he and his father established G.W. Simmons & Son at Oak Hall in Boston. After Simmons Sr. death the business continued. G.W. Simmons & Co. advertisement appears in 'The United States Army and Navy Journal and Gazette of the United States', March 14th, 1896 describes the business as "Manufacturers of Uniforms and Equipment for Army, Navy, Revenue Marine Service, National Guard, Military Colleges, Band and Drum Corps." Indeed his business was among the more prolific military outfitters of the late 19th century. On Feb. 22, 1898 Simmons died of gun shot wounds to the chest in Nahant, Ma. and was buried in Forest Hill.

His powder horn is very large, nicely curved size, overall approx. 22 in. Finely curved wooden face with fancy acorn carved motif at its top. Very nicely and specially carved wide octagon spout, with original fancily carved removable wooden plug that is still affixed to the horn with original narrow iron chain.

The carving style is typical of other examples made at Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas. The center of the powder horn features three very large lines in quite fancy, upper and lowercase, block lettering, G.W.S. JR. / Sept. 8th, 1863 / Sabine Pass, and below the Sabine Pass marking, an open branch and leaf with floral motif. Lower section of horn features a very large, rather crude (but original) illustration of an American naval vessel that is identical to period illustrations of the USS Clifton (side paddlewheel steamer type) with a long flowing narrow American flag flying at top of the rear mast and a larger American flag flying on pole at extreme stern, with a cannon barrel just behind it and another cannon facing forward at its extreme bow.

Provenance: Estate of Norm Flayderman


Light surface wear, few scratches. 

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