Confederate associated P1856 Saber Bayonet by Chavasse
Offered here is a nice example of a likely Confederate purchased P1856 type II Saber Bayonet and Scabbard. Early P1856 rifles were manufactured with a long guide bayonet lug, and their corresponding bayonets had a long lug groove cut into them to accommodate it. The guide was eliminated in production on English military rifles around 1858, although commercial manufacturers would intermittently use it until 1861 or 1862. The new Pattern 1856 type II bayonets would remain in use through the adoption of the P1860 and P1861 rifles, with the only further changes being an increase in the muzzle ring size to accommodate the P1860/61 rifles heavier barrels.
This bayonet is clearly marked on the reverse (left) ricasso of the blade with the maker's name CHAVASSE in an arched line. Horace Chavasse operated cutlery manufactory on Alma Street in Aston, near Birmingham from late 1860 until 1868.
Chavasse apparently sold some edges weapons very early on during the Civil War, and it was through this that he became acquainted with William Joshua Grazebrook. Their partnership was formalized in early 1862, and the pair bought a large amount of military wares to sale to the Confederacy. Their attempt at blockade running was disastrous, as well as financially ruinous, as the ship, the ill fated Modern Greece was wrecked off of Wilmington, North Carolina in June 1862.
Although some damaged cargo was salvaged by Confederate authorities and sold at auction, Chavasse would not receive any money from the cargo, as his partner, Grazebrook, would soon declare bankruptcy in June of 1863 after the capture of the Dolphin and Nicolai I in March of that year.
Chavasse would continue legal action against Grazebrook to no avail, as the courts determined that Grazebrook was insolvent in 1865. The financial ruin brought on by his support of the Confederacy would cause Chavasse himself to declare bankruptcy in 1868. He died virtually penniless in 1917 at the age of 87.
This bayonet is a nice example of a Chavasse marked P1856 type II Saber Bayonet complete with a Type II scabbard, which utilizes staples rather than pins to secure the iron throat and drag. The blade measures 22 and 5/8 inches and the bayonet has an overall length of 28 inches. The blade shows some scattered oxidation, most of which would probably clean off. There is also some scattered pitting on the cross guard and pommel, but it is quite light as well. The muzzle ring measures about 0.82 inches, indicating this bayonet was made for a heavy barrel P1860 or 1861 rifle.
Both grips are in good condition, although they do show some wear. The embossed checkering is still mostly visible on both grips. The left grip has pulled away from the handle slightly, but is still firmly attached.
The leather scabbard is in good condition as well. As previously mentioned the scabbard is of the Type II variety, as introduced in 1861, as the throat and drag are attached with a single iron staple each as opposed to the pins used on the Type I scabbards. The leather is still slightly pliable and retains the majority of its original finish. The stitching is still strong with the exception of a small separation about half way down the seam. There is a pinch in the scabbard body slightly less than half of the way down the scabbard.
Overall this is a nice example of of very likely Confederate purchased saber bayonet and scabbard. Other than an inventory numbered bayonet, I think you would be hard pressed to find a more Southern Enfield Rifle saber bayonet. This one is priced very reasonably and would make an excellent companion to a heavy barrel P1858/60/61 rifle.