My book Bowie Knife Fights, Fighters, and Fighting Techniques is available from Paladin Press. This blog contains additional information about the bowie knife, as well as the fighting knives of other nations.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Making Fire With a Bowie Knife

Charles Goodnight (1836 – 1929) was a cowboy, Texas Ranger, Civil War veteran, and one of the great cattlemen of the Old West. Among the many accounts he left of life on the range is this explanation of how to start a fire with powder, primer, spurs and a bowie knife:
Like other outdoor men, the rangers were sometimes soaked from head to foot, and a fire became a matter of serious concern. As a last resort the scout rubbed a dampened calico rag through powder, held in the palm of his hand, until it was saturated with half-melted explosive. Then he placed a percussion cap upon one spoke of a rowel of his Mexican spurs, wrapped the powder-laden rag below it, and 'busted the cap' with the back of his Bowie knife. The rag caught the sparks and flashed into a blaze as the powder burned.
Goodnight also described a type of sheath for the bowie knife that I have never seen depicted:
In their belts [Texas Rangers] carried Bowie knives often sheathed in scabbards made from the tails of buffalo calves, slipped whole from the bone and dried over a whittled stick, exactly the shape of the blade.
Goodnight appeared as a character  in several of Larry McMurtry's western novels, and his friendship with Oliver Loving is said to have inspired the relationship of Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call in Lonesome Dove and its sequels.

1 comment:

  1. Is there a youtube video of this old time demonstration of bowie firemaking ?

    ReplyDelete