A wide variety of large knives and Bowie knives were employed by Confederate troops during the Civil War, with one of the most popular styles being a large "D-guard" like this example. Many of these knives were made in small numbers by local blacksmiths, and rarely bear maker's marks. This example is unmarked and measures 14 1/8 inches overall with a 10 inch, double edged, spearpoint blade. The iron guard has a large D-shaped knuckle guard, a ball finial on top, and peened tang visible on the pommel. The grip appears to be smooth walnut with a poured pewter band at the top. The leather sheath is fairly plain with large sections of the front burnt and absent and a belt loop on the back along with a faint handwritten ink inscription. The first line of the inscription appears to be the name "John W. Wright" or "Wrigth". The next line down is mostly illegible but may end in "Inf". Following that is what appears to be "Louisa co/va" and what appears to be "August [day illegible]/1861". There are multiple John W. Wright listings in the National Parks Service database as Confederate soldiers, however, the writer believes the most likely candidate is a private in Company B of the 56th Virginia Infantry Regiment. The 56th was raised in 1861 from Louisa, Mecklenburg, Buckingham, Nelson, and Charlotte counties in Virginia, and finished mustering in September. The regiment was captured at the surrender of Fort Donelson in February 1862, before being reorganized and exchanged in the spring and summer of the same year, and then were transferred to Pickett's Brigade of Longstreet's Division in the Army of Northern Virginia. During the Seven Days Battles they suffered 100 casualties out of 466 men. They took part in the battles of Second Bull Run and South Mountain, and by the Battle of Antietam were only able to field 40 men, of which seven were wounded. They took part in the Battle of Fredericksburg and, after receiving replacements, arrived at the Battle of Gettysburg able to field 289 men. Being part of Pickett's Division, they took part in the fateful charge named after him on the final day of the battle where, of the 289 men in the regiment, 51 were killed, 72 wounded, and 76 were missing or captured. They took part in many more battles in the final years of the war, including Drewry’s Bluff, North Anna, Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg. By the time of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox in April of 1865, only three officers and 26 men still remained.
Very good, the blade mostly a bright grey patina with some scattered patches of mild pitting, evidence of sharpening, and some minor nicks in the edge. The iron and pewter show a slightly darker grey-brown patina and the wood grip shows moderate wear but minimal dings or scratches. The sheath is fair with extensive fire damage on the front and otherwise moderate wear.