Old South Military Antiques

Massive Confederate D-Guard!
Item #: OS-7372

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. The Confederates preferred a knife with a "D” shaped knuckle guard that curved around the hand. The knife takes its name from the "D” shaped knuckle guard and is known simply as a "D” Guard to the modern collector. All "D” Guard knives from the war era can be considered Confederate. "D” Guards were designed as fighting knives. Like the Code Duello, knife fighting was a Southern custom and 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.

These knives were brought from home or were made at Confederate arsenals, by private cutlers, blacksmiths and mechanically oriented entrepreneurs. Some of these were practical, some were cumbersome and some were just plain absurd. Because there was such a wide range of makers with various levels of skill, "D” Guards run the gamut from a file beat into a knife with the rasp grooves plainly visible, to works of art made by the finest cutlers in Richmond, New Orleans and Charleston.

The large D-Guard shown here is exceptionally well made. The blade alone is just over twenty inches long; the full length including the grip is an incredible twenty-five and a half inches. The blade is very well formed, having a four and a half inch reverse edge. The blade’s tang passes through the forged iron D-guard, which is as well formed as the blade. The slab grips are morticed to enclose the tang completely and is secured by three iron rivets. The hilt remains as tight as the day it was made. The entire knife exhibits a level of workmanship well above average indicating that it was not made by a common blacksmith, but rather someone skilled in the art of knife making.

I typically do not buy knives without scabbards, but the knife was so large and so well made that I could not resist buying such quality, even without the scabbard.