|Description and Photograph||
The knife shown here is the only brass mounted D-Guard knife extant made and marked by Alabamian T. L. Pruett. Several iron mounted examples are known; one is shown here beside the brass model. As you can see the models are nearly identical.
Pruett was a blacksmith by trade and evidently a very skilled artisan judging by the workmanship exhibited in his D-guard knives. The huge weapon he produced was of the very highest quality. In 1860, forty year old T. L. Pruett, a native Kentuckian, was plying his trade just east of Montgomery, in Prattville, Autauga County, Alabama. When War was forced upon the South, Pruett, like many other craftsmen, utilized his skills to aid the South. In the fall of 1861 he made knives for the Autauga Guards, then, in June of 1862, he enlisted in the 1st Battalion Alabama Partisan Rangers, Co A at Camp Forrest, Alabama. Pruett’s metalworking skill must have attracted attention because the following June, Major General Buckner ordered him to Mobile to work on C. S. gunboats.
Pruett’s ultimate fate is unknown though a year later he was listed on the Ranger’s rolls as being on detached service by order of General Buckner.
The huge brass mounted D-guard Pruett created is nearly twenty-two inches long, over two inches wide and over a quarter inch thick! The flat spear point blade has a three inch reverse edge. The wooden handgrip is set into two brass ferrules. The guard is made of brass. Pruett’s name is stamped into the hand guard using the same dies that he utilized in marking his iron guarded knives.
He apparently made this knife especially for Doctor J. A. Robinson, as it is the only Pruett knife known to have the owner’s name stamped into it. Using the same dies Pruett stamped: J. A. Robinson M.D.
into the blade.
In 1860 J. A. Robinson was a 29 year old physician living and working in Autaugaville,
approximately five miles from Pruett's home in Prattville, Autauga County, Alabama. The AG. stamped into the blade positively dates the knife’s manufacture after Robinson’s September 16, 1861 enlistment in the Autauga Guards under Captain T. L. Faulkner. By the end of September 1861, Pruett had supplied all 39 enlisted men in Captain Faulkner’s Autauga Guard with a huge iron mounted D-Guard knife with a nineteen inch blade, as witnessed by the October 19, 1861 edition of Vanity Fair published in Boston, Massachusetts under the heading:
“We gather the following cheerful item from a late Southern journal.
‘In Captain Faulkner’s company, of Autauga, Alabama, about to start for Richmond,
each man is furnished with a knife, the blade of which is nineteen inches long, and
weighs two pounds and a half.’ You couldn’t have made those blades twenty inches,
Captain, could you?
Nineteen is such an awkward number of inches to have stuck into one you see. But,
perhaps, each of your men is ‘just nineteen years old,’ and ‘can whip his weight in
wildcats (or Yankees) in nineteen minutes.’ If so, the nineteen inches’ are happy.
By the way, Captain, if you have not determined on a name for your company of
‘blades,’ let us suggest one. What do you think of dubbing them the Autauga
The thirty-nine knives referred to in Vanity Fair probably accounts for all the knives Pruett made, certainly for all the knives of this massive style. After extensive research, I believe that only four out of the original thirty-nine have survived. Three mounted in iron and this one brass mounted example.
At the time the article was written in a “Southern journal” the Autauga Guards thought they were headed for Richmond, Virginia; instead they became company G, Blythe’s Regiment, 44th Mississippi Infantry and served out the war in the Army of Tennessee.
The 44th Mississippi association has led me to another fascinating discovery; we have been looking at a War era photograph of one of Pruett’s knives all through the years.
In the fabulous photograph of the 44th Mississippi’s very heavily armed Andrew and Silas Chandler, Andrew is holding a Pruett D-Guard!
This knife, in its original scabbard had remained in the possession of Robinson’s descendants and was still residing in Alabama until the spring of 2002.
Article in October 16, 1861, Vanity Fair
Andrew and Silas Chandler, Co. F, 44th Mississippi Infantry
posing with what is probably a Pruett made D-Guard
Close-up of Andrew Chandler holding one of Pruett's D-Guards
J. A. Robinson's Brass Mounted Knife Beside an Iron
Mounted Pruett from the Abel's Collection