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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Civil War Bowie Knives

In Collections of the Worcester Society of Antiquity (1885) there is this description of weapons taken as souvenirs from the battlefields of the Civil War:
In the way of military cutlery there are several items as follows: Two officers' swords, one from Gettysburg given up by a prisoner, the other from a similar source at Bull Run. These two are crossed over one of the windows in our first room. A cavalry sabre is hung over one of our doors. Though taken from a prisoner at Goldsborough, it is not supposed to menace those who pass beneath it, as did the one in history the head of Damocles. Hanging in one of the closets is still another captured weapon, having for a handle an eagle's beak fashioned from ivory. In the case are two rather gentle (?) instruments, one, yclept "Yankee Slayer," was surrendered by a captured man at New Berne; another knife obtained in a similar manner, looks much like a utensil used for many years by a butcher. The "Slayer" recalls the name of the man who invented the Bowie knife, and who, himself, used it with such terrible effect. Nothing in the whole Rebel armament was more farcical than the miserable knives with which some of the soldiers were equipped. A well directed bullet would render unavailable any number of "Yankee Slayers."

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