DAHLGREN BOWIE KNIFE BAYONET AND SCABBARD

$1,975.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 490-3008

This is a very good example of the scarce Civil War U.S. Navy Bowie knife bayonet developed by John A. Dahlgren. The blade has a good point and edge with no nicks or sharpening and is largely bright, showing some thin gray areas on the ricasso and smaller spotting on the lower edge and the upper edge for about a third of the length back from the tip. The grip is excellent, with a tight fit and brass hilt rates excellent as well, with age darkening and age spots, but nice metal and surface. The scabbard is complete and matches the condition. The seam is tight. The surface has good color with only age cracking and no finish loss, and the mounts are firmly in place, showing untouched age darkening. The drag has some dings. The throat retains the frog stud. The markings are crisp: AMES MFg Co./ CHICOPEE / MASS on the reverse ricasso; U.S.N. / D.R. / 1863 on the obverse; and DR on the pommel.

Dahlgren suggested a bayonet in the form of a Bowie knife in 1856, though he envisioned it mainly as a handheld weapon for use in boarding actions. He described it as, “a short broad and stout knife of the well known Bowie pattern, the principal use of which I designed to be in the hand in close conflict, such as boarding. In campaigning it would also serve many wants: but it may be fixed and used as a bayonet.” For this reason, it is sometimes found issued in conjunction with his Whitney-Plymouth Navy Rifles, such as in June 1864 when Dahlgren requested 1,000 of each for his squadron, but was also issued on its own as a Bowie knife, such as the 500 ordered and delivered in late 1861 to the Washington Navy Yard for use of the Potomac Flotilla, more than a year before delivery of the Dahlgren rifles began, which, when they came, were equipped with Collins and Company saber bayonets.

Hardin notes four slight variations in the pattern, dated 1861 to 1864. This fits with his “Variation 3,” with the grip secured by a wood screw and the blade dated 1863. Records seem to be incomplete, but McAulay records 1,000 were ordered in two batches in August 1863, with 500 going to the New York Navy Yard and 500 to Washington, all delivered by the end of the year, with some delivered to Dahlgren, who issued them along with rifles and revolvers as arms for his picket boats.

We show a photograph from the Flayderman collection, published in McAulay’s excellent book Civil War Small Arms of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps showing an Old Salt armed with a revolver and one of these Bowies at his hip. At war’s end we note 178 were sent to Philadelphia from an ordnance depot in Florida and as late as December 1866 1,445 were on hand at various naval stations.

This is a great example that would fill a spot in a Navy, Bayonet, Civil War arms, or Bowie knife collection.  [sr] [ph:m]

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