Richmond Style Confederate Pike

In February of 1862, Georgia Governor Joseph Brown gave an address to mechanics throughout the state of Georgia.

Let every army have a large reserve, armed with a good pike, and a long heavy side knife, to be brought upon the field, with a shout for victory, when the contending forced are much exhausted, or when the time comes for the charge of bayonets. When the advancing columns come within reach of the balls, let them move in double quick time and rush with terrible impetuosity into the lines of the enemy. Hand to hand, the pike has vastly the advantage of the bayonet, and those having the bayonet, which is itself but a crooked pike, with shorter staff, must retreat before it. When the retreat commences, let the pursuit be rapid, and if the enemy throw down their guns and are likely to outrun us, if need be, throw down the pike and keep close at their heels with the knife, till each man has hewed down, at least, one of his adversaries.

Governor Brown gave this decree to all good people of Georgia but he was also broadcasting to other States of the Confederacy as well as other armies in the South.

So that brings me to my newest Confederate Pike, thought to be made in Richmond Virginia hence its name “Richmond Pike”. This pike is in very good condition with no cracks or missing parts. The blade has some pitting which just adds to its beauty.

Overall length is 98 ½”, with the spear point blade measuring 12 ½” long, and the iron collar at the base of the pike “ which is generally missing on most examples” measures 7”. The brass collar at the base of the blade measures 2” and is held in place a what appears to be a copper rivet.

The two metal straps that hold the blade in place run down the length of the pike beneath the brass collar and measure 17”. One strap is held in place with two copper rivets and 4 metal screws and the other strap is held in place with one copper rivet and 5 metal screws.

All in all this is a fine example of a Confederate Pike in great condition. If you have any questions about this weapon or any of the other weapons in my Arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn, Gene West. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the history.

Confederate Cloverleaf Flagstaff

Over the past year or so my collection of Confederate Pikes has grown expediently in relation to the rest of my collection. Like the other categories of weapons I collect (e.i. guns,, knives, swords etc…) my end goal to to have at least one of every example that exist. Whether or not I will have the resources or the access to all the neat pieces is another story.

The Flagstaff you see here is one I purchased a few months ago from Brian Akins of www.rebelrelics.com. I had purchased a few Confederate Pikes prior to this accusation from Brian and knowing that I had an interest in pikes/poles he asked if I’d be interested in the featured Flagstaff. After reviewing the photos and haggling a bit over price we negotiated and I became the owner of the historic gem.

Until recently these poles were thought to be pikes by collectors and dealers alike. But the collecting community generally agrees these are not at all pikes but Flagstaffs. The book “Collecting The Confederacy” by Shannon Pritchard who happens to be one of the leading experts in everything about the American Civil War, especially Confederate. Mr. Pritchard makes a valid case why these poles should be recategorized as Flagstaffs and not Pikes.

Only a handful of these Cloverleaf Flagstaffs are know to exist so much of there history is sketchy at best. Here are a few of the reason Mr. Pritchard suggest these be reclassified.

1. Some of the ones that do exist are painted with gold on the cloverleaf and red on there hickory wood poles. There would have been no reason to paint these poles if they were pikes.

2. Many of existing examples are stamped with makers marks, and all have tapered shafts these would have been unnecessary expenses.

3. Pikes would generally be jammed into the ground by the pikeman giving them leverage against charging horses/Calvary-men, but as you can see in the photos the Flagstaff has a baseball bat type butt which would be suitable for resting on the outer thigh or on the ground.

4. The area where the Cloverleaf meets the wood shaft is weak point. It is only 11/16” in diameter and would have surely broken if used against charging Calvarymen. All other known pikes have larger diameter shafts with the exception of the retractable pike.

5. It’s also thought that the Cloverleaf design wasn’t practicable as a pike however was attractive as an ornament atop a flagstaff.

6. Mr Pritchard write that he has seen an example that was excavated near the Burnside Bridge where Toomb’s Georgians were overrun in Sharpsburg Maryland. He suggest that they wouldn’t have been carrying pikes, but flags, when they were overrun.

So now that we’ve cleared up all the reasons why this is not a pike and is indeed a Flagstaff we can move on to the featured Confederate Cloverleaf Flagstaff.
The overall length from top to bottom is 84”, the metal straps on either side of the pole holding the Cloverleaf in place is 16.5” long and has 4 rivets holding all in place. The Cloverleaf measures 10.5” tall X 7.5” wide.

At one time or another the pole and cloverleaf were shellacked, however it was done a very long time ago. This is not unusual for items such as this since many were displayed in SCV OR GAR halls. There does seem to be a gold hue in the metal of the cloverleaf under the shellac suggesting that at one time it was painted gold that may have worn off or was removed prior to shellacking.

The two know makers of Flagstaff for the Confederacy were H. Stevens and Sam Griswold. It’s my opinion that this Flagstaff was made by H. Stevens of Georgia, however there’s no makers mark and it is speculation on my part.

There is a few small nails in the wood shaft of the flagstaff suggesting to me that this is were the flags or company pennants that it carried were fastened.

So there you have it another piece of Southern history brought to you by the Civil War Arsenal. If you have any questions about this item or any other items in the Civil War Arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attention Gene West. Thanks for stopping by.

Confederate Bridle Cutter Pike, Louis Froelich

During the war on Northern aggression the C.S.A Arms Factory in Wilmington North Carolina had contracts to manufacture two types of lances. The first was a straight steel blade, 18” long X 2” at its widest point. Secured to the hickory shaft with a 1” iron pin that was flattened at both ends. The hickory shaft measured approximately 7’ – 9” long with an iron collar at the bottom end of the shaft that was held in place with an iron pin.

The second type of lance was similar to the first with the addition of a sickle shaped bridle cutter. The sickle and the blade are actually two different pieces held in place with the 6 ¾” iron collar. This primitive type of weapon would have been used against Calvary troops charging artillery batteries.

If the user could hook the sickle portion of the blade around the leather bridle portion of the charging Calvary Horsemen they would cut the bridle leaving the rider of the horse with no control and vulnerable to attack from foot soldiers. I’m not certain of any documented use of these weapons but it doesn’t mean they weren’t used in rare instances. By the time of the American Civl War, most of these types of Napoleonic weapons were obsolete…..remember Calvary-men had breach loading carbines such as Sharps and Spencer’s that could shoot up to 7 shots before reloading.

Exactly how many lances and bridle cutters were made by Louis Froelich and Company is not known, but extant examples are extremely rare. An article in the “Home Industry” April 28th, 1864 edition of the Wilmington Journal reported that Froelich manufactured 3,700 lance spears during the war. It’s not clear how many of the 3,700 were bridle cutters but it’s the authors opinion that it’s few at best. As of this blog post there are only 7 Louis Froelich bridle cutters know to exist.

Which brings us to the newest weapon in the Civil War Arsenal. Over the past year or so I’ve been on a mission to grow my collection of Confederate poles of all types….Pikes, Lances, Bridle Cutters and Flagstaffs. They make great conversation pieces and display nicely in my War Room/Arsenal. Most collectors like the guns and edged weapons (I do too) but don’t normally collect pole type weapons. Probably because there hard to display, due to there size and even though they were made during the war not many were used during in battle……and many collectors want weapons that have provenance, not pieces that sat in arsenals waiting to be used.

This Bridle Cutter is in great condition, it’s hickory shaft has no cracks and the iron has a nice darkened patina to it. It even has its iron collar at its base which is usually missing on other pikes and lances. Just another great piece of American history with North Carolina provenance, you gotta love the South.

I’d like to thank John W. McAden, Jr. and Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr., there book “Louis Froelich Arms-Maker to the Confederacy”. Without collectors and enthusiasts like them we would know little about the history of pieces like this.

If you have any questions about this Bridle Cutter or any of the other pieces in the Civil War Arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West

Confederate Retractable Pikes

For the longest time I’ve been wanting and waiting for a Retractable Pike to become available that had all the characteristics that I demand for my collection. I’ve seen a few over the past years that drew my interest and curiosity but it wasn’t until I examined them that I realized they didn’t meet my expectations. So year after year, show after show it’s been one of those Southern Weapons that I’ve been on the hunt for but never could find that ONE that I could call mine.

As luck would have it I was on one of the more prominent Civil War Dealers web sites and low and behold their it was in all its glory, the retractable pike that said “I’m yours, buy me”. Interestingly enough there wasn’t just one pike to choose from there we’re two. One had a lighter wood finish, that may have been cleaned at some time and it had a shorter blade by about 2 inches. Then their was the pike that called to me.

This pike has a beautiful blackened wood and metal finish. Unlike so many of the pikes that I’ve handled over the years that always seemed to be missing a part or two or had cracks in the wood or a damaged blade, this pike was just stunning it wasn’t missing anything. It had all its hardware and a longer blade then most, which really drew my curiosity.

The pike has a spear point blade that’s extremely sharp. The shaft is six foot 1 inch long when the blade is in the closed position, the blade is 16 inches long and the pike has an overall length of 7 foot 5 inches when the blade is in the opened position.

The retractable pike was invented by Reverend Doctor Graves, a Methodist minister originally from Vermont, living in Georgia at the time of the war. Probably made in Macon Georgia these pikes were originally designed to have a spring that would eject the blade (kinda like a large stiletto or switchblade) to the open position however the South didn’t have the capabilities of making such a spring so they were made without them. The user would slide the bolt on the side to manually move the blade to open and closed position.

Georgia Governor Joseph Brown gave an address in February, 1862 appealing to the blacksmiths and mechanics throughout the state to show there patriotism and turn out ten thousand pikes to be six feet long and have an eighteen inch blade.

Suggesting that armies should be armed with pikes and a long heavy side knives and when advancing columns come within reach of the balls, let them move in double time and rush with terrible impetuosity into the lines of the enemy.

Governor Brown stated in his address that long range guns sometimes fail to fire and waste hundreds of balls to one that takes effect, but the short range pike and terrible knife when brought within their proper range, and wielded by a stalwarts patriots arm never fail to fire and never waste a single load.

There’s no doubt Gov. Browns intentions were good but I’m not fighting anyone who has a gun that shots lead with an accuracy of 500 yards if I’m only armed with a 6 foot pike. I Believe a Georgia Regiment almost committed mutiny when told they would have to fight with such a weapon. Can’t say I blame them.

So there you have it, yet another fine example of a Southern Edged Weapon. I hope you enjoy the photos if you have any questions about this weapon or any of the other weapons here at the Civil War Arsenal I can be reached at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Eugene West