Old South Military Antiques

Confederate Knife from Malvern Hill Battlefield
Item #: OS-6766




The exquisite Confederate Bowie shown here has a label pasted to the scabbard that simply says "Malvern Hill” in period script. To anyone who lived through those times, no more needed to be said.

Malvern Hill was the culmination of the Seven Days Battles around Richmond; it saved McClellan’s Army, and it at last stopped the Confederate juggernaut that had rolled over that same army for the past week. In the process it decimated the boys in gray, who, fighting for their own homes and hearths had day after day charged recklessly into flaming sheets of fire, and who day after day had overcome the incredible odds against them.

Here at Malvern Hill there was no room for maneuver, it was simply charge straight up a rising hill into the cannon’s mouth. All 171 off them. Cannon stacked hub to hub, so thick that 91 more had to sit out the fight for lack of room.

Flesh and bone could not overcome. It was a prelude to Pickett’s Charge. Union Brig. General Fitz John Porter summed up the Confederate infantry charges at Malvern Hill this way:

"As if moved by a reckless disregard of life equal to that displayed at Gaines' Mill, with a determination to capture our army, or destroy it by driving us into the river, brigade after brigade rushed at our batteries, but the artillery of both Morell and Couch mowed them down with shrapnel, grape, and canister, while our infantry, withholding their fire until the enemy were in short range, scattered the remnants of their columns, sometimes following them up and capturing prisoners and colors.

5500 Confederates were shot down that day. The tag with the knife on one side reads:

"From Malvern Hill Battlefield 1862” and on the other "Lincoln Lamp” has been scratched out and "Rebel Dagger” written below. These clues lead me to the conclusion that this was picked up from the Malvern Hill Battlefield by one of the Yankee participants and later displayed in a Northern museum or a Grand Army of the Republic Veteran’s Post. Whichever it was, it also housed a "Lincoln Lamp”.

The ten and half inch knife is in virtually mint condition. The blade is finely formed but still shows crude file marks. The blade’s tang passes through a thick brass cross guard into a coffin shaped, one-piece, wooden grip. The grip is set into a silver ferule and has a mother of pearl slab inlaid into the right side. The mother of pearl no doubt covers the pin that holds the blade’s tang into the grip. The deep cross hatching was hand cut into the wood. The knife’s form fitted scabbard is made of two slabs of wood, pinned with silver along the edge and at the tip. A silver ferule encircles the throat. The scabbard is decorated with the same hand cut, cross hatching as the hilt.

This is a beautifully Confederate made knife, documented to having been used by a Confederate soldier who charged that terrible volcano on Malvern Hill in 1862. All in all, an incredible piece of history in the Confederate struggle for independence and yet only $2,950.00.


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