Old South Military Antiques

Samuel Griswold Cloverleaf Pike/Flagstaff
Item #: OS-6908

Sam Griswold is best remembered for having produced more revolvers for the Confederate Government than any other Southern manufactory, but his factories also manufactured other war material, including the cloverleaf pattern flagstaff shown here.

The collecting community has long referred to the cloverleaf pattern tipped shaft, as a pike. I do not believe that it is a pike, but instead, is a flagstaff.

When Georgia Governor Joe Brown called for the manufacture of ten thousand Pikes in February of 1862, he stipulated that a pattern would be supplied by the ordinance office at Milledgeville. Governor Brown required that shafts were to be made of "ash, white oak or hickory with heads of well-tempered steel.” He also stipulated that five dollars would be paid for each Pike accepted into service. Looking at this offer strictly from a business point of view, as I am sure Griswold would have done, it would have been absurd for him to manufacture and paint such an extravagant Pike, when he would have been paid the same five dollars for a simple, unpainted steel tipped shaft.

Almost all of the Griswold and Stevens cloverleaf patterns I have examined, whether half shaft or full, had shafts painted red and cloverleafs painted gold, though most only retained traces of the original paint. The paint on the shaft and head have been attributed to surplus dealer Francis Bannerman’s post war displays, but as you can see from the photographs, the shaft was cut for display after it was painted, which casts doubt on this theory. Another unnecessary expense was stamping his maker mark into the crossblade. If he was selling them under the terms of Joe Brown’s proclamation, who was he advertising to? A third unnecessary expense and an obvious flaw if this were intended for use as a Pike is the tapered staff. The staffs of both the Griswold and Stevens’ pattern cloverleaf are narrow at the neck and swell in the center before tapering back down. Clearly shaft strength would have been a major concern in manufacturing a pike, yet both the Griswold and Stevens’ shafts at the head are only 11/16” in diameter, obviously a very weak link. The extra expense of gracefully shaping the staff was unnecessary and even counterproductive if meant for use as a Pike. Both the Griswold and the Stevens were manufactured with a wide, baseball bat type, butt suitable for resting on the outer thigh as opposed to true Pikes which have an iron band at the base suitable for resting on the ground.

This was made with a single piece shaft. Usually when these are encountered, they consist of only the upper shaft, because most that have survived, survived because Yankees saved them as souvenirs. The yanks saved them by sending them home and they usually cut them in order to send them home. Probably a few have been cut since the War for displays in GAR or UCV halls etc.. A few, such as this example, were cut to ship, and then rejoined later. This could easily be rejoined by screwing it together with a two headed lag bolt.

This example retains much of its original gold paint on the head. The S. Griswold stamping is crisp and the overall condition excellent.