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 attn: Gene West

1862 Richmond Carbine

It was the Fall of 1862 and the South was struggling to keep pace with their Northern counterpart. The Northern government and private contractors were manufacturing about 50,000 long and small arms a month, while in the South the two government armories in Richmond, Virginia and Fayetteville, North Carolina were struggling to piece together 2000 usable weapons a month, I say piece together because many of the Musket Rifles were made from parts captured at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal or from battlefield pickups.

Fast forward 150 years, I’m at the Civil War Gun Show at Gettysburg Pa. hoping to find the Confederate Carbine that’s on my wish list. I’m with my wife (Melinda) and her instructions are to help me find a Richmond Carbine and negotiate a price, which is her expertise. It seems as though non collectors don’t have an emotional connection so there not as likely to over pay for the item there negotiating for. So were walking up and down the aisles and there’s a few OK carbines but there in bad to poor condition and I had my heart set on a cleaner version. When finally there it is the Holy Grail of Carbines, an 1862 Richmond Virginia Low Hump Carbine in good condition. I break down the Carbine hoping that it’s historically accurate. First the lock plate then the barrel next the stock and it seems to be 100% correct. The metal all of which is Southern made (except one barrel band and the butt plate) is got a brown patina (not rust) that is smooth to the touch the barrel has a front pinched sight, the hammer is southern made everything is what you hope to find in an early model Richmond Carbine. The stock is probably the neatest of all the features the carbine has to offer.  The stock is split into 2 pieces under the barrel band closest to the lock plate and there are 2 staples holding it together. I’ve read about these types of Confederate guns and I’ve even seen a few in books but I had never held one.

So to make a long story short I fall in love with the Carbine and my wife works here magic negotiating the best price possible while I’m salivating in the next aisle of the show, I went to the next aisle because I didn’t want to show my hand to the seller who might not have moved off his price.

We spend the rest of the weekend in Gettysburg doing battlefield exploration type stuff, having dinner, drinks and the best pretzels I’ve ever eaten at the Irish Pub. Mean while I can’t wait to get home break down my new Carbine and study it from top to bottom.

We finally get home and there I go taking my new toy apart hoping to find what nobody else was able to find. I use gun oil to clean everything hoping it may reveal that one thing that everyone else missed and low and behold there it is on the left side of the stock  a name carved (ever so likely)into the wood, John Taylor.

So then it becomes my mission to learn more about John William Taylor. It turns out John Enlisted April 21st 1861 in Stafford Virginia, roster of the 9th Virginia Cavalry, Company A and served for the duration of the war. We know that all the Carbines made at the Richmond Armory were issued to Virginia Cavalrymen; we know John was promoted to Cpl. Early 1863 which should have given him leverage in getting issued the Carbine.  So it’s fair to say that This John William Taylor carried this Carbine, HOW NEAT IS THAT!

John William Taylor

John William Taylor Tin Type

This is just one of the many Civil War stories I’m hoping to share with anyone willing to listen and I encourage you to tell one of your neat stories about Civil War finds and artifacts.
If you have any thoughts or questions please contact Eugene West at