Twenty-Eight Inch D-Guard!


Description and Photograph




     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 Dixons 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 twenty-four inches long; the full length including the grip is an incredible twenty-eight inches.  One side of the blade is elegantly formed into a nine inch reverse edge; the other side is flat, without fuller or ridge.  The beautifully bright, uncleaned blade is set into a brass mounted wooden grip by means of a threaded tang, secured by a square nut.  The brass mountings for the walnut grip are obviously reused pieces from some unknown piece of equipment. The iron D-guard is as elegantly formed as the blade.  The grip remains as tight as the day it was made.  The entire knife exhibits a level of workmanship well above average.  

     It is still sheathed in its original wooden scabbard which fits it perfectly.  The scabbard is made from two mortised slabs bound with tin straps and tin toe.  The scabbard remains perfectly tight just like the knife.               




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