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A Sword with Three Centuries of History


Edmund Freeman's sword.
Edmund Freeman’s sword.

Fort Ticonderoga preserves an extensive collection of swords spanning more than two centuries encompassing an encyclopedic array of styles and types.  While the memory of who used most swords faded away long before they became part of the museum’s collection, a few notable examples have important provenances.  One such sword is that owned by Edmund Freeman.

Edmund Freeman was born in June 1657 in Eastham, Massachusetts.  While very little is know of his personal life, records indicated that Freeman served in the military as early as 1690 as a private or possibly non-commissioned officer.  As with many people during that era, he likely served in local militias throughout is life, but is probably around the time that he joined the 1707 expedition to Port Royal that he acquired this sword.

During the early 18th-century conflict known as Queen Anne’s War, French ships based in Port Royal, Acadia (Nova Scotia) regularly harassed New England’s colonial fishing, trade, and navigation industries.  In 1707 the 1st [Massachusetts] Regiment sailed to Port Royal, Acadia to capture the port town and end French hostilities with New England.  Edmund Freeman enlisted as a captain in the regiment on April 23, 1707, and set sail on the expedition led by Colonel John March on May 13.  The expedition was fraught with hardship from the beginning.  By early September, after two failed attacks on Port Royal, the expedition returned to Boston and Captain Freeman returned to private life until his death in 1717.

The sword is an exceptionally fine example of an English infantry small sword popular ca. 1700-1740.  The Freeman family has lovingly cared for Edmund Freeman’s sword since his death in 1717.  After passing through eight generations of Freeman family ownership Freeman’s descendants, Harvey Freeman, Caroline Jacobson Freeman, and Hope Freeman Schultz presented the sword to the museum in 2006 so that it will be preserved and Edmund Freeman’s role in America’s history will always be remembered by future generations.  The sword and its history is presently exhibited in the museum’s weapons exhibit Bullets & Blades: The Weapons of America’s Colonial Wars and Revolution.

Blog post by Christopher D. Fox, Curator Fort Ticonderoga