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Old South Military Antiques

North Carolina CS Bowie Knife
Item #: OS-7680

Every soldier North and South needed a knife when they marched off to the 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.

The maker of this large 17 ¼ inch Bowie knife is unknown, but because similar examples have been identified to North Carolina soldiers, and this one came out of North Carolina, this can be identified as a North Carolina made knife. Other North Carolina knives with similar pommels are discussed in detail in Confederate Bowie Knives, by Phillips, Melton & Sexton on pages 162-164. The main variation between this knife and those pictured is that the blade of this knife is made from a sword blade. Besides the bulbous pommel, it has the same brass pommel washer, but not inlaid.

The aforementioned North Carolina knives were produced in sizes ranging from 13 ½ inches, to 22 ¾ inches. The maker of this knife made it specifically as a fighting knife, with a bulbous grip. This bulbous grip prevented the hand from sliding off of the grip when wet and slick. This knife is very well made, having an iron, 1/16 inch thick, squared cross guard with a rounded middle to protect the hand, and a blade expertly formed from a sword blade to make an elegant and deadly knife with a true reverse edge. The grip is secured to the blade tang using a brass washer, sitting on top of the grip. This method works well, as testified by the knife being as tight as when it was made 160 years ago. The expertly formed blade remains bright, and it has not been cleaned.

The knife is still sheathed in its original and extremely well made leather scabbard. Even the original belt loop remains. The scabbard fits the knife perfectly and is in excellent condition except for a few small holes eaten by insects. The leather remains very strong and all of the stitching is tight.