U.S. Military knives have seen many incarnations over the centuries, but the long tradition of protecting our country began in the American Revolution.
The army was made up of Continental soldiers, who were trained and outfitted by the government, and the militia.
The militia were irregulars, men over the age of sixteen who were called to serve when needed. All carried knives of one type or another, often homemade or native-American style.
American Revolution Knives
Patch knives were small knives used by the riflemen to cut patches to use with powder and ball for reloading the rifles or muskets. There was no set style for these knives; rather, the soldiers made use of what was available to them.
The bayonet was fixed to the end of a musket, giving the infantry greater reach when fighting. On occasion, the knives were used without being attached to the musket, though this was not the preferred method. Bayonets are long, triangular blades with two edges, and are designed specifically for stabbing.
The rifleman’s knife is the most likely precursor to today’s U.S. Military knives. Long, with a single sharpened edge and a flat spine, these were carried by civilians who joined the war. Also like today’s Military knives, they are high in carbon, which gives excellent edge retention, but since they can be brittle, they’re usually made as a larger blade.
Why There is No Set Standard
During the American Revolutionary War, there was no standard for U.S. Military knives. Quite possibly this was due to the fact the military was the Continental Army, and it was a motley crew. A mixture of trained soldiers and militiamen made up the army during the war, many of whom were self-supplied.
As iron was difficult to afford for the Continental Army, most men brought their own equipment from home, things they used on a daily basis. Hunting knives, skinning knives, daggers, and throwing knives were all used during the war. The soldiers’ primary concern was whether or not the knife could do the job, not if it was standard issue.
Role of Knives During the War
Due to the inaccuracy of muskets, and the rarity of rifles, much of the combat was hand to hand. As a result, knives, swords, and bayonets had a vital role as one of the primary fighting weapons available.
When used by a trained soldier, the bayonet was a very effective weapon and could be used as a knife or attached to a musket, creating a spear. The rifleman’s knife wasn’t just used for combat. It was used for everything the soldier needed, whether it was opening boxes, shaving, skinning, or anything else required.
These types of knives can be found online, and are made to be as historically accurate as possible. While there are U.S. Military knives for sale, consider purchasing a style used during the American Revolution to add to your collection. Bring history to the forefront of your home.