Old South Military Antiques

Beautiful Burger Bro. Confederate Bowie
Item #: OS-6516








Every soldier North and South needed a knife when they marched off to war and in the South it was fashionable, if not practical, to carry a large fighting knife, the bigger the better judging from war era photographs.

Like the Code Duello, knife fighting was a Southern custom that was rarely engaged in by those above Mason – Dixon’s line. In truth, relatively little fighting was done with them North or South, but there are numerous documented cases of Confederates engaging in hand to hand combat with knives.

During the decade before the War, Bowieswere in fashion and were widely carried by men North and South. Therefore, it is impossible to categorize Bowies as Confederate knives unless they have a documented history of Confederate use or are one of the few that have Southern maker marks or characteristics. This beautiful Bowie has many of the classic Confederate hallmarks, but more importantly, it is stamped with the rare "BURGER & BROTHERS” over "RICHMOND-VA” maker’s mark, as such it is a quintessential Confederate Bowie knife.

Prior to the War Between the States, Edwin Boyle and the Burger Brothers were in the saw manufactory business. When the Northern states invaded Virginia, Mr. Boyle joined with a P. Gamble and began the manufacture of various types of edged weapons, including knives and swords for private purchase and for the Confederate Government. The Burger Brothers had a much smaller production, but they too made swords and knives. I would like to think that the Burgers and Mr. Boyle were motivated by patriotism; but I am sure, as an astute businessman he could see that there was going to be a bigger demand for swords than saws.

Most of Burger Brother’s and Boyle & Gamble’s products are unmarked; fortunately, they did mark enough of each type of weapon for the modern collector to readily identify their unmarked products.

The Burger & Brother Bowies follow a distinct pattern, the blade is flat, having no ridge, the clip point has a false edge, the back is beveled, the two piece wooden slab grips are attached by three iron rivets and the cross guard is made of beveled brass. These desirable knives are encountered with variations on the above; but the knife pictured here has all the desirable "characteristics” and a wonderful Burger & Brothers Richmond VA maker’s mark. The Bowie measures fifteen and three quarter inches overall and is in very good condition. The leather scabbard is original to the knife and it too is strong, and, with the exception of the missing toe and belt loop, it is in very good condition. I have never seen another marked Burger knife in its original scabbard, though it may exist. The toe would have been like the throat, made of brass. The remains of a leather lanyard are affixed around the knife’s pommel; this served two purposes, it prevented the wielder’s hand from sliding off of the knife, even when wet, and if it should come out of the hand, it remained with its owner. All in all, it is a very practical addition.

The labels that you see attached to the knife and scabbard are the collection numbers of Lewis Leigh, Jr. and the knife has been published at least twice, once in Phillips Confederate Bowie Knives and once in North South Trader Civil War.

This extraordinary knife has not been on the collector’s market for a generation and I expect it won’t be again for a generation.

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