Confederate Numbered P1856 no. 2 "Bar-on-Band" Rifle Saber Bayonet with Unit ID
Offered here is an exceptionally rare and quite nice Confederate inventory control numbered Pattern 1858 (1856 no. 2) "Bar-on-Band" Rifle saber bayonet. This bayonet, and all other numbered saber bayonets like it, was supplied as a portion of the second Sinclair, Hamilton and Company contract for 30,000 long and 10,000 short Enfields. These weapons are among some of the most desirable and well known of Confederate central government purchases.
The 10,000 "short" Enfields supplied under the contract were comprised of a variety of British patterns and their commercial volunteer brethren. The rifles are found with JS anchor viewers marks stamped at the rear of their triggerguards, and with inventory numbers stamped into the belly of the stock in the case of iron mounted rifles and engraved on the buttplate tangs of brass mounted rifles. These numbered rifles were delivered in late 1861 through early 1862 at which point the time consuming process of hand numbered the rifles was discontinued.
In addition to the numbers found on the rifles themselves, the rifles' ramrod, bayonets, and bayonet scabbards were all numbered to match. The hard use that most of these arms saw during the war means they are quite scarce today, and their numbered appendages, which were often lost or replaced during their period of use, are exponentially more so.
The bayonet offered here is a classic Confederate numbered P1858 (P1856 no. 2) "Bar-on-Band" Rifle bayonet. The blade is marked with the logo of J.E. Bleckmann, which consists of a drawn bow and arrow, with the letters B and M within the arms of the bow. The Bleckmann company, operated from 1808 to 1880 in Solingen, and was heavily involved in the blade making industry.
The blade is in good condition with an attractive gun metal patina and only some scattered light pitting. The left side of the blade has a "5" or "S" marked on it in white paint. The right side of the blade has a few small pieces of old tape. These could be easily removed, but I will leave that up to the future owner.
The leather grips are in generally good condition and are tight to the hilt. Their outer surfaces show some wear, which is more pronounced on the left grip. The locking lug functions properly and crisply and the bayonet would no doubt easily mount to its intended rifle.
The left side of the hilt is marked plainly with the Confederate inventory number 2355. This is quite fortuitous for us as a number of brass mounted Bar-on-Band rifles survive clustered around this number. In all, no less than 6 numbered rifles from 2321 to 2370 survive; with number 2370 being positively identified to Sergeant Richard Kirkland of the 2nd South Carolina Infantry Regiment. Sergeant Kirkland would go on to be immortalized for his actions at the battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862 for which he would be dubbed the “Angel of Marye’s Heights”. The presence of such a grouping of rifles in close numbered sequence indicates that at least one company of the 2nd South Carolina was issued brass mounted "Bar-on-Band" rifles.
In all, this is a nice example of a Confederate numbered saber bayonet with a really outstanding unit attribution. While there are no markings to specifically tie this bayonet to the 2nd South Carolina there is a very high probability that this bayonet was indeed issued to that regiment. This bayonet would be an excellent addition to a collection of Confederate imported arms, edged weapons, or one that focuses on the 2nd South Carolina.