Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Big 'Uns


Sorry, sorry, sorry. Yet again I abandoned my faithful readers (all three of them - and one of them's my Mom) for a embarrassingly long time. My excuse is that I've regressed to my teenage years in yet another way. I'm a paper boy again. Well actually the wife and I accomplish what was done by one fifteen-year-old back in the day. Up every morning at 3:30, a brisk walk of two or three miles and, together we make less than minimum wage as "independent contractors". The short version is that my sleep cycle has been so toasted it's all I can do some days to stay out of bed.
Having fallen on my sword sufficiently now I can now move onto the subject at hand. Confederate Bowie knives, specifically D-guards. Many of the serious reenactors are scornful of them as they were heavy and cumbersome and, even though a huge percentage of early studio photos show the lads brandishing such - and a significant number remain extant, they feel most were probably sent back home or just shitcanned. Fair enough. Probably the case. I'm sure on a fifty mile hike in the Southern heat with bad food and worse shoes, the big scary knife that seemed so awesome when you joined up would quickly have become more trouble than it was worth.
personally, I don't care. It's of no importance to me whether or not a big Bowie ever slew a Yankee or not. For me they seem to illustrate the mindset of the young bucks headed off to war and that's what I find interesting.
Big knives were considered a fashion accessory in the 30's and 40's and Jeff Davis himself commanded a unit in the Mexican war that was armed with knives possessing eighteen-inch blades so there was certainly precedent set in the pliable young Southern minds.


The opening picture, way back up at the top, is of the one that set me on the D-guard trail as it were. I've always thought they were cool and wanted to sell them on the site, but I was concerned about "authenticity" - the reenactor crowd being sticklers for such and rightly so. However this one convinced me that their was no absolute standard, neither for design nor quality. This old piece of crap. which sold for $2800 by the way, was hand made from a file - and crudely. My suspicion is that some guy used his farm's mule-shoeing forge to make himself a knife before he marched off. I'm sure he did it to the best of his abilities, but no self-respecting smith of the period would have let this thing out of his shop.
Given the title with which I've saddled this post, I'll toss in a few more pics of larger examples I've uncovered over the years on various antique and museum websites.
This final shank is so huge that, using my standard guestimate of four to five inches for handle length, the blade of this monster runs over two feet, and it won't win any beauty contests either.














One final bit of business: Long ago I left you with the "cliffhanger" of whatever-happened-to-the-Volcanic-lever-action-pistol?
This last photo hints even more specifically. The Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. eventually became Winchester.

No comments:

Locations of visitors to this page