Old South Military Antiques

Gettysburg Survivor D-Guard
Item #: OS-7261

The D-Guard knife shown here started life as a sword, but was, at some point, cut down to make it into an infantryman’s fighting knife. I have no doubt that it was ideal for that occupation. The knife is one of the larger of its type, coming in at 22.5” by the tape. The knife was picked up in the Confederate lines at Williamsport, Maryland.

The Confederates held Williamsport from July 6 to July 16, 1863, as part of the Gettysburg Campaign.

During the night of July 4–July 5, General Robert E. Lee's army began its withdrawal from Gettysburg, moving southwest on the Fairfield Road toward Hagerstown and Williamsport, screened by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry. The Union infantry followed cautiously.

On July 7, Brigadier General John D. Imboden, who commanded the massive Confederate wagon train, stopped Union cavalry from occupying Williamsport and destroying Confederate trains. This allowed Lee's infantry time to arrive at the rain-swollen Potomac River but water was too high to allow them to ford. Lee entrenched a line to protect the river crossings and waited for Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Army, much like a slightly wounded lion that has been backed into a corner. On July 12, Meade reached the vicinity and probed the Confederate line. On July 13, skirmishing was heavy along the lines as Meade positioned his forces for an attack. In the meantime, the river fell enough to allow the construction of a new bridge, and Lee's army began crossing the river after dark on the 13th.

On the morning of July 14, Kilpatrick's and Buford's cavalry divisions approached from the north and east respectively. Before allowing Buford to gain a position on the flank and rear, Kilpatrick attacked the rearguard division of Maj. Gen. Henry Heth taking more than 500 prisoners. Confederate Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew was mortally wounded in the fight.

There is quite a bit of history that can be deduced from careful study of this knife. The first has already been mentioned; that it was reduced from a sword to a D-Guard knife. We know that it was picked up at Williamsport, Maryland because of the note on the blade and we can tell from where it was picked up, that it went on the Gettysburg Campaign. While we cannot be certain that it was in Pickett’s Charge, or even for certain that it was in the town of Gettysburg, it cannot be doubted that it served in some capacity on the campaign. We can also tell from the condition of the knife that it lay on the field for 2-3 years before it was picked up. The hand guard has been painted silver; this was a common treatment by G.A.R. posts. Since it was painted by a G.A.R., it tells us that a Union Veteran picked it up, and that it was displayed at the G.A.R. Hall, which is why its particular history was painted onto the blade.

This is quite a remarkable bundle of history wound into one inexpensive artifact.
Price $1,950.00 USD