DAHLGREN BOWIE KNIFE BAYONET AND SCABBARD

$2,495.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-3784

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 smooth metal, a muted silver in color with some thin gray spots, and very crisp blade marks: AMES MFg Co./ CHICOPEE / MASS on the reverse ricasso; U.S.N. / D.R. / 1863 on the obverse, with matching DR inspection stamp on the pommel in script letters in an oval cartouche of Daniel Reynolds, a civilian who worked as an inspector for both the army and navy, whose mark shows up also on navy cutlasses, as well as cavalry and artillery sabers, and musicians swords.

The grip and hilt are very good as well. The grip has a few light handling marks, scratches or wear spots, but a tight fit, nice color and surface, and well-defined contours to the ridges and finger grooves along the lower edge. The brass hilt has some fine scratches and age darkening that matches the scabbard mounts along with some slightly lighter areas natural from handling.  The scabbard is complete and matches the condition. The seam is tight. The leather surface has good color with only minor age cracking and one or two tiny spot of finish loss. The mounts are firmly in place, showing untouched age darkening with a little lighter tone to the top of the frog stud as is natural from handling.

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, 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 from 1861 to 1864, mostly based on the markings. This fits with his “Variation 3” on the basis of the markings, the 1863 date and with the grip secured by a wood screw set flush within the stud guide groove about a third of the way back from the guard. 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. A photograph from the Flayderman collection in McAulay’s Civil War Small Arms of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps shows an Old Salt wearing one of these Bowies, clearly recognizable from the contoured grip. We also note that at war’s end 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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