Civil War Steel

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Texas Slim, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. Texas Slim

    Texas Slim

    Feb 12, 2007
    Thanks to Facebook, I recently connected with a distant member of my paternal family who has been a wealth of family history, providing me with long sought information on my clan and a photo or two including this one of my Great-great-grandfather in his CSA private's uniform with a serious chunk of steel that I believe he knew how to use. I was a little surprised at the size of this knife. Was that common among enlisted men at the time or do you think it was a photographer's prop?

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  2. foxx


    Sep 5, 2010
    It could be a prop, but lots of photos from that era show warriors with their tools. Think about all those images of Native Americans and their hawks. They were very proud of their tools.
  3. Blueskat


    Feb 5, 2008
    From what I have researched, ..... most units in the CSA were fortunate to just get what they could in supplies. I am from West Tennessee, and 3 of my grandfather's family members were captured by General N.B. Forrest after he had made his initial raid into Kentucky and brought back supplies confiscated from the Union supply trains. A real piece of gem history you have there. And yes, I believe it belonged to your Great-great-grandfather.
  4. Tostig


    Jun 16, 2009
    Hard to tell from the pic but , Coffin handled bowie type ? Looks almost like a coffin handled smatchet. :)

    Gotta remember that folks back then usually only had one , maybe two knives that they used for everything.

    It would be so cool if that particular "yankee slayer" was still in the family , hm ?

    Nice picture , thank you for sharing.

  5. CWL


    Sep 15, 2002
    You know that the bayonet on a Springfield rifled musket was 18" long? A feller needed some reach back then.

    That was a romantic era, Jim Bowie's namesake was common for soldiers to take with them to war, at least until they had to lug those hunks of steel in their kit.
  6. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    I've seen a lot of CW era pics of guys with knives that size. Some of the pics were of groups of men, several of whom appeared to be carrying knives that size. The knives were sized and shaped for their purpose as weapons.

    For a more definitive answer, you might post that pic in the Bernard Levine forum and pose the question there. > Knife Related Subjects [​IMG] Bernard Levine's Knife Collecting & Identification
  7. Shawn B.

    Shawn B.

    Dec 1, 2007
    I use my great great grandfather's (Maj. William Walker McDaniel CSA) picture as my avatar. He seems to be toting a big piece of steel also.
  8. jimnolimit


    Oct 28, 2009
    nice piece of history.

    p.s. if i was fighting a war with a musket, i would definitely want to carry a large piece of sharpened steel as backup!
  9. orca8589


    Jan 27, 2007
    Great picture, and a very intense looking individual. I know some photographers provided various things as props, including knives and sometimes pistols. However, many Confederate soldiers carried their own, too.

    Did your great-great-grandfather survive the War? Our family had several who marched with the Army of North Carolina, and a couple never made it home. (One of whom we're fairly certain was a deserter.)

  10. CWL


    Sep 15, 2002
    People in olden time photos always looked so stern because they had to hold that pose for a long time to create an exposure on the glass negatives. Any sort of movement would ruin the picture. That's why you never see any smiles and people looked so stiff and serious.
  11. DennisStrickland

    DennisStrickland Banned BANNED

    Jun 24, 2009
    many soldiers from this time carried big knives since the guns in blackpowder were'nt as reliable as modern ammo. many of the north & south carried bowies made in england but also local blacksmiths made a lot of these big blades. needless to mention but all of these command big collector bucks.--dennis
  12. cbach8tw

    cbach8tw Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    Check out the book Civil War Knives by Mike Silvey, great book with great pics, also there were Wheats Louisiana Tigers who were known to carry large blades, some D-guards.I heard alot of infrantry men threw away alot of heavy bulky items on the long marches. Most of the time what the South had were what they could get from home or a local blacksmith. Artillery units would also, I heard, carry some big knives to use to clear gun enplacements for cannon and the path of fire
  13. Screwdriver


    Feb 27, 2010
    Hand colored daguerreotypes are pretty rare, and Confederate ones are even more so because of cost. Does your family member own the original?
  14. Texas Slim

    Texas Slim

    Feb 12, 2007
    Thanks for the input Y'all!

    I like that, I like that a lot. lol

    I was guessing the blade was near 12 inches and with a spear point, it looks like it could inflict some serious damage.

    He served with 39th Reg Co E, North Carolina Troops, was held prisoner at Louisville, Kentucky and released about May 1865 at Chattanooga, TN. The story is he walked back home to Georgia. I was going to say something smart about how if he hadn't survived, I wouldn't be here. Then I remembered they married early back in those days.

    You are correct, which leads me to:

    I haven't seen the actual photograph but am told it's a glass plate that is kept in a small wooden box, which made me think it's a hand colored ambrotype. And yes, it's still in the family. Pretty cool. I hope to see it in person one day.

    Thanks again to all of you for your input!

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