Posted June 2015

If you have a Civil War item that you can't identify or something you want to know the value of, contact John (mail: Box 510, Acworth, GA 30101; email John at with Civil War in the subject line or call 770-329-4984 or 770-974-6495). John needs a good description of the item, condition, manufacturer's marks and any other markings, and photos. Please Note: All questions MUST be accompanied with a Photo, it should not be more than 200k in file size.

John, is this a Civil War sword or spear? It has C.S.A. stamped on the blade and was found in my backyard in Devil's Garden, Fla. Not sure if it is real or a reproduction? I hope you can answer my question, sir.

JS: What you have is not a sword or a spear; it is actually known as a pike. I have not seen Confederate pikes reproduced, and this relic appears original from photos. Pikes and other pole-arms have been used over the centuries by militaries worldwide. The advent of accurate firearms made the use of such a hazardous profession, as one could be shot quite easily while approaching with such a primitive weapon.

The Confederates did make a good many pole-arms early in the Civil War. Some were simply used as flagstaffs. Originally, the pole this was attached to would have been about eight feet long. The CSA marking on this pike head is thought to be one manufactured in Richmond, Va., possibly by Boyle & Gamble, a well-known edged weapon maker. Identical pole-arms are shown in several publications including Confederate Arms by William Albaugh and the primary text American Pole Arms by Rodney Hilton Brown. Mr. Brown's book traces pole-arms from the French and Indian Wars and the American Revolution through the Civil War.

Your particular pike head is quite rusted and looks like it was possibly turned into a knife; a modern screw was utilized when originally an iron pin would have held it in place along with long languets to strengthen support to the head.

Average dealer prices for a CSA-marked pike like this one with complete shaft and base are $3,000-$5,000. Just the head with rust and pitting but fine markings would probably still retail for around $400-$600; with smooth metal; it might have brought $1,000.

Hi, John. My father was given this sword last year by his mother who was 99. She told him it came from his great-great grandmother who's last name was Lyle. He is looking for more info on it if possible and the value of it.

J.S.: Your sword dates to circa 1830 and is known as an American "eagle pommel" militia officer's sword. These were very popular among militia and state troops with many varieties and makers; most were European-made for U.S. market. Similar examples can be priced at antique arms show for about $400. 

I have been told this is 1830 gun was used in the war. It was found buried in a swampy area.

JS: Your old "Kentucky rifle" probably dates to circa 1840. Missing the lock and sort of rough appearing, it may sell for $200-$300 unless signed, and then it could bring a little more.

Rifles such as this are known among long rifle aficionados as "poor boys," being made as tools without ornamentation or even a patchbox in the stock. Every rural western and southern home had one in antebellum America. They were used to bring home small game and could protect the household if needed. These usually small-bore rifles were not practical as military weapons, but some were with soldiers in the early war as some recruits from both the North and the South may have carried their hunting rifles early in 1861 to muster-in. Some larger bore rifles in the Deep South were actually fitted with bayonets, but again, that was only very early in the Civil War.

John Sexton is an independent appraiser and expert of Civil War memorabilia. He is an accredited member of various appraiser organizations. He can be contacted at 770-329-4984 or If you have a Civil War item for him to appraise, email a photo and a description to .




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