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Bown & Tetley TURNER Rifle Bayonet & Scabbard

Bown & Tetley TURNER Rifle Bayonet & Scabbard

  • Product Code: EWB-1320-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

Here is a unique and rare saber bayonet that is associated with the famous German immigrant Turner organizations that served with such honor during the American Civil War. The Turnvereinie or simply Turners in America were nationalistic German-American gymnastics (athletic) clubs. Many were recent immigrants to the US, arriving in the late 1840’s and early 1850’s. When war broke out in their adopted land, many Turners rushed to enlist, and often sought out units comprised of their own members. The most famous Turner regiments were the 9th OH volunteer infantry (raised in the Cincinnati area) and the 17th MO volunteer infantry, known as the Western Turner Rifles raised in the St. Louis area. Although both of these units were raised in specific areas, they drew Turner’s from all over the US, including cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia, as well as those in the mid-west and west. Many of these men arrived in camp with their own personal weapons. Usually they arrived with civilian style percussion rifles, both half stock and full stock, in calibers that were typically between .42 and .45. While the styles and variations of the rifles were quite wide ranging, the two features that were typical of the guns were the addition of sling swivels (uncommon on civilian rifles) and a large lug to accept a saber bayonet (almost never encountered on civilian guns). The saber bayonets were typically very large, featuring Yatagan blades in excess of 20” and cast brass handles. Often they were cast with slogans in their brass grips, like BAHN FREI (meaning: look out or get out of the way). These bayonets were much less varied than the guns they went on, and while blade length and overall size and minor cosmetic features did vary somewhat, the basic form remained relatively constant.

Offered here is a classic Turner bayonet complete with the original scabbard. This bayonet was produced by the famous mid-19th century cutlery maker Bown & Tetley of Pittsburgh, PA and is so marked on the ricasso. In typical Tuner form, the bayonet has a massive 21” long, 1 ““ wide , Yatagan blade, a 5 ““ heavy cast brass handle and a large cast slot on the handle to engage the bayonet stud and guide on the Turner rifle. The overall length of the bayonet is 26 ““ . The brass grip is in excellent condition, with a rich, un-cleaned patina. The blade is a medium gray with some scattered age staining and peppering throughout. The blade has been cleaned at some point, and has also been sharpened, and there are a few light marks visible on the blade as a result. What may be the best part about this bayonet is the fact that the original period leather & tin scabbard is present. The scabbard has a leather interior that is made much stronger by wrapping it in sheet tin. The scabbard has a brass throat, and likely had a brass drag, which is now missing. This type of tin and leather scabbard is sometimes encountered with some CS Bowie and side knives. As can be seen in the images, the tin scabbard covering is a couple of inches short of being full length, essentially missing the portion where the brass drag used to be. The leather scabbard is short slightly as well, and as can be seen, the exposed leather is in well-worn condition. The scabbard’s brass throat has separated from the main tin body, but is still stable. It has a crude copper rivet-like stud soldered onto it to attach it to a belt frog, clearly a period repair as it is obvious where the hole that held the original stud is on the throat. The other interesting feature is a tin loop on the lower rear of the scabbard that appears to have been intended to allow the scabbard to be attached to a strap on the soldier’s leg to keep the large scabbard and bayonet from flapping around and becoming difficult to deal with in the field.

Many consider this the most desirable form of the classic Turner Bayonet. These bayonets are seldom encountered with the strong makers marks found on this one, and almost never found with their original scabbards. This is an item that anyone would be proud to add to their collection of Civil War era edged weapons. I recently saw a similar Bown & Tetley bayonet in about the same condition offered for sale for just under $4,000. That one did not even have a scabbard. Another similar Turner bayonet was also being offered in the same general price range without a scabbard. This one is priced well under those prices and includes something that is almost never found with one of these bayonets- the original scabbard. These massive bayonets in the hands of angry German immigrants must have struck terror into the hearts of the Confederate soldiers who faced the Turners on the field of battle, and truly made the soldiers facing them feel that they should BAHN FREI!


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Tags: Bown, Tetley, TURNER, Rifle, Bayonet, Scabbard