Excellent US Navy Dahlgren Bowie Bayonet with Scabbard and Rare Boston Navy Yard Marked Frog
- Product Code: EWB-C235
- Availability: In Stock
Probably no bayonet of the Civil War era is more instantly recognizable than the US Model 1861 Bowie Knife Bayonet better known as the “Dahlgren Bayonet" because of its creator and the man who was responsible for pushing for its adoption by the Navy. The massive knife bayonet with a 12” blade, an overall length of just under 17” and weighing in at about 2-pounds was the brainchild of US Rear Admiral John A Dahlgren (1809-1870). Dahlgren was a student of weapons technology and was responsible for many naval weapon designs adopted by the Navy during the mid-19thcentury. As such he is often referred to as the Father of American Naval Ordnance. Chief among these inventions were a series of bronze boat howitzers and rifles, large caliber smoothbore iron cannons and rifled iron guns as well. He also developed a series of small arms such as the US Model 1861 Naval Rifle aka “Plymouth Rifle” and the accompanying Bowie Knife-Bayonet offered here.
According to bayonet researchers Jerry Janzen and Albert Hardin, the Dahlgren Bowie Knife Bayonet was produced in four distinct variations. The earliest, and apparently the least often encountered type had the wooden grip secured to the brass hilt by three copper pins that pass through the brass backstrap and the wooden grip. Their research indicates that this early variation does not appear with naval inspector marks or USN markings of any kind on it. It is simply marked on one side of the ricasso with the Ames Manufacturing Company information and on the other side with the date 1861. Admiral John A Dahlgren appears to have invented the bayonet that bears his name not so much as a bayonet, but as a somewhat creative way to get a serious knife issued by the Ordnance Department. These early knives may have been prototypes as much as regular issue items. It is interesting to note that many researchers now believe that the Dahlgren Bowie was never actually intended to serve as a bayonet at all, but rather was the Admiral’s creative way of skirting Naval bureaucracy. At that time there was no official issue knife for the Navy and Dahlgren was a supporter of a large heavy knife for boarding parties to use and for utility use on board the ship as well. Although a brass handled saber bayonet was already standard issue for use on the “Plymouth” Navy Rifle, it is believed that Dahlgren designed this Bowie Knife as a bayonet so that it would actually go into production and be issued to his sailors. The subsequent variations are primarily identifiable by the way in which the walnut grip is secured to the hilt and the way in which it is marked.
The truly wonderful example of the Dahlgren Bowie Bayonet offered here is in about EXCELLENT condition and is complete with the scabbard and the original frog, an item that is very rarely encountered with these knives. The reverse ricasso is marked in three lines AMES MFG CO / CHICOPEE / MASS, with the first two lines in a banner-like arch over the word “MASS” which is extremely weak and almost illegible, suggesting an uneven strike or a damaged die. The obverse ricasso is marked U.S.N. / D.R. / 1864. The upper two lines are the original inspection and acceptance mark of US Navy sub-inspector Daniel Reynolds. The date was applied by the Ames factory and the mark is rather weak, this time almost certainly due to a worn die. The top of the brass pommel cap is struck with Reynolds script DR cartouche. The accompanying blackened buff frog is clearly ink stamped on the rear in three lines and in the correct font and style:
The steel blade is quite bright and retains much of the original bright factory polish, with some minor scuffing and light surface abrasions here and there on the blade. There is some lightly scattered oxidized freckling and minor discoloration here and there on the metal, but the blade remains in really lovely condition. The brass guard and hilt has a lovely, untouched ocher patina with some mottled discoloration ranging from deep mustard to bronze to brown. The brass shows scattered impact marks and dings, as is common for these hilts. In particular the pommel cap shows dings where the bayonet apparently saw service as an erstaz hammer. The wooden grip is in FINE condition with only lightly scattered bumps, dings and minor surface scuffs from handling, light use and storage. The grip is secured with a brass screw through the hilt that is visible on the mortise cut for the key on the rifle’s bayonet lug. The spring steel bayonet stud catch is in place in the grip and works exactly as it should. It retains some faded and dulled blued finish. The original scabbard and belt frog accompanies the knife, and the scabbard fits the blade like a glove. The scabbard is in VERY FINE condition, with strong leather throughout and excellent tight stitching. There are some surface scuffs and mars to the leather finish and some areas of lightly scattered crazing. The stitching all remains tight and intact. The brass mounts that consist of the pinned throat and drag are in VERY FINE condition as well and have a rich, dark patina similar to the brass on the knife itself. The original mounting pins for the throat and drag are present and in fine shape as well. The belt frog is also in VERY FINE condition. As noted, it is blacked white buff leather with much of the surface finish intact on the face, with some fading and loss. The rear was left in the “white” and it is here that the black ink stamp noted above was applied. The frog shows some light wear, minor crazing and some surface discoloration but retains tight stitching and is a really wonderful example of a rarely found accessory for the Dahlgren Bayonet.
Overall, this is a really fantastic example of a late-war Dahlgren Bowie-Bayonet, with a fine scabbard and the rare belt frog that is marked to the Boston Navy Yard. The bayonet and frog have matching 1864 dates and it is really nice to know where this bayonet was sent for subsequent issue and use. These massive Dahlgren Bayonets always attract attention in any display of Civil War era bayonets, edged weapons, or US Navy items. This is a very high-quality piece that is good enough for the finest of collections and would be a wonderful addition to any collection that concentrates on the mid-19thUS Navy, and the Boston Navy Yard in particular.