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 firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Eugene West