Leech & Rigdon
(Memphis Novelty Works)

The Memphis Novelty Works originated in 1861.  Thomas Leech, a former cotton broker, constituted its sole proprieter at that time.  Also known as the Memphis Novelty Works, Thomas Leech & Company, the firm established itself as a manufacturer of swords, sabers, knives, bayonets, and other edged weapons.  In the fall of 1861 or early 1862, Leech was joined by Charles H. Rigdon, a scale-maker and machinist from St. Louis, Missouri, who had previous associations with Dimick, and Shawk and McLanahan, all makers ofimitation Colts.  At this time the firm also became known as Leech &Rigdon, but it still retained its more common name of Memphis Novelty Works.  The company is best known for the manufacture of foot officer's swords with "CS" in an oval on the counterguard and cavalry sabers of a similar design. 

Leech & Rigdon remained in Memphis until May 1862.  Just beforethe city's fall to the federals on May 9, the firm relocated to Columbus,Mississippi, where Confederate authorities had set up an armory.  They opperated here until December 1862, when the approach of the Union Army caused them to move to Greensboro, Georgia.  Leach & Rigdon is known tohave made revolvers in addition to edged weapons, but it is generally believed that they did not do so until after they left Tennessee.  The Memphis based firm also produced a number of other pieces of military equipment including spurs, belt plates, and eating utensils.  Leach & Rigdon formally dissolved January 1, 1864, although Rigdon joined Jesse Ansley to complete the Leech & Rigdon contract with the Confederate government.

Return to Saber/Sword Manufacterers