Old South Military Antiques

Marked Burger & Brother Bowie Knife
Item #: OS-7482

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.

Like the Code Duello, knife fighting was a Southern custom that 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.

During the decade before the War, Bowies were in fashion and were widely carried by men North and South. Therefore, it is impossible to categorize Bowies as Confederate knives unless they have a documented history of Confederate use or are one of the few that have Southern maker marks or characteristics. This Bowie has many of the classic Confederate hallmarks, but more importantly, it is stamped with the rare "BURGER & BROTHERS” over "RICHMOND-VA” maker’s mark, as such it is a quintessential Confederate Bowie knife.

Prior to the War Between the States, Edwin Boyle and the Burger Brothers were in the saw manufactory business. When the Northern states invaded Virginia, Mr. Boyle joined with a P. Gamble and began the manufacture of various types of edged weapons, including knives and swords for private purchase and for the Confederate Government. The Burger Brothers had a much smaller production, but they too made swords and knives. I would like to think that the Burgers and Mr. Boyle were motivated by patriotism; but I am sure, as an astute businessman he could see that there was going to be a bigger demand for swords than saws.

Most of Burger Brother’s and Boyle & Gamble’s products are unmarked; fortunately, they did mark enough of each type of weapon for the modern collector to readily identify their unmarked products.

The Burger & Brother Bowies follow a distinct pattern, the blade is flat, having no ridge, the clip point has a false edge, the back is beveled, the two piece wooden slab grips are attached by three iron rivets and the lozenge shaped cross guard is made of beveled brass. These desirable knives are encountered with variations on the above; but the knife pictured here has all the desirable "characteristics” and a the highly desirable Burger & Brothers Richmond VA maker’s mark. The rustiest place on the blade happens to be on the stamp and some of the letters are defaced by rust, but it is easily legible. The Bowie measures thirteen and a half inches overall and is in fair condition. The original slab grips are completely tight, there is slight movement of the brass cross guard. Though not a beauty, it is a wonderful opportunity to those who acquire a ten thousand dollar marked CS knife.