1849 Rifleman's Knife
Rare example of the 1000 knives purchased by the Ordnance Department from the Ames Manufacturing Co. in 1849 for issue to U.S. Regiment of Mounted Rifleman. The Model 1849 Rifleman's Knife has the distinction of being the first knife officially designed and purchased by the U.S. Army. The massive knife is 18-inches long with an 11 7/8-inch spear point blade, cast brass cross guard and slab-sided walnut grips. The walnut grips have a distinctive brass lined thong hole in the pommel and are secured to the tang by three rosette-headed steel rivets. The blade is fitted with a buff leather washer. The knife is complete with the original black leather scabbard with brass throat and tip. The throat has an oval frog stud.
The Model 1849 Rifleman's Knife was procured as a special weapon for the U.S. Regiment of Mounted Riflemen who were armed with Colt Dragoon revolvers and U.S. Model 1841 rifles but did not carry sabers. The U.S. Mounted Rifles were ordered to Oregon Territory in 1849 and were subsequently assigned to garrisons in California. Large numbers of Mounted Riflemen deserted during the gold rush and many of the Rifleman's Knives probably left U.S. service with the deserters. The Ames Model 1849 U.S. Mounted Rifleman's Knife is the rarest and most desirable of all U.S. military knifes and is typically found only in advanced U.S. martial arms collections.