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James Batson

Knives 101: What is a Dog-Bone Bowie Knife?

The distinctive handle of the dog-bone bowie knife resembles a dog bone and allows the user to swing, slice, hack, stick and pull the knife without it flying or slipping out of the hand. A wrap of thin coin silver protects the end of the dog bone, or pommel. An oval-shaped silver ferrule supports the wooden handle at the guard. A metal ferrule is a characteristic of early American knives. It prevented the handle from cracking.

For decoration, thin coin-silver strips are pinned to the top and bottom of the handle from ferrule to pommel. Domed silver studs and rectangle escutcheon plates adorn the dark walnut handle. A thin silver cross guard decorated on each end provides protection to the user’s hand.

The decorated wooden handle without the silver pommel wrap slips over the blade’s hidden tang. A slotted cylinder nut secures the handle to the threaded tang. The photos accompanying this article show both the slotted nut on the handle with the silver pommel removed, and the silver pommel wrap covering this feature. The slotted cylindrical nut is a feature of knives made by the French cutlers of the time in New Orleans.

Dog bone knives
The decorated wooden handle without the silver pommel wrap slips over the blade’s hidden tang. A slotted cylinder nut (right) secures the handle to the threaded tang. A silver pommel wrap (left) covers this feature. (photo of exposed cylinder nut by, and courtesy of, Mark Zalesky)

The feature is evident on push daggers and on knives made by Blaise Pradel that originated in New Orleans. His mark of “PRADEL, A NEW ORLEANS,” is French for Pradel of New Orleans. A pupil of Charriere of Paris, France, Pradel lived on St. Charles Street in New Orleans. The blades were forged and flat ground into a triangular cross section.

They did not have a ricasso. The ricasso is the rectangular cross section of the blade before the guard on modern knives. Instead, they had a circular notch on the edge called a Spanish notch. It is a form of decoration. In the past, it may have had a purpose that is unknown today.

The Sea of Mud Knife: James Bowie’s Knife Found? Pt. 3

James Bowie knife
(relic image courtesy of the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University Libraries)

Editor’s note: Read part one and two of this series first.

Did the Sea of Mud Knife Belong to Davy Crockett?

Davy Crockett picture
Davy Crockett passed by James Black’s Shop in 1835 on his way to the Alamo. Could he have bought the Sea of Mud knife (above) from Black or received it as a gift?

On about Nov. 18, 1835, the most famous fallen hero of the Alamo and his entourage crossed Town Creek on the Southwest Trail that led up the hill past James Black’s Shop to the Elijah Stuart’s tavern in Washington, Arkansas. Did former Tennessee congressman, Col. David “Davy” Crockett, or one of his companions buy the Sea of Mud knife from Black? Did Black give the knife to the famous folk hero?

On Nov. 1, 1835, Crockett, along with three others—William Patton, Abner Burgin and Lindsey K. Tinkle—left Crockett’s log cabin home near Rutherford, Tennessee, on a journey of adventure, exploration and fortune hunting.

Having recently lost his U.S. House of Representatives seat to Adam Huntsman, “a one-legged Jacksonian,” Crockett told his constituents, “Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to the devil and I will go to Texas.” Most certainly he told this tale over and over, all the way to Texas, always to the delight of his audience. He traveled to Jackson, Tennessee, arriving there with 30 well-armed men, where he gave a speech from the steps of the Madison County courthouse.

Davy Crockett history
Crockett left his log cabin home in Rutherford, Tennessee, on Nov. 1, 1835, on a journey of “adventure, exploration and fortune hunting.”

From there he rode southwest to Bolivar, where he spent the night at the residence of Dr. Calvin Jones, once again drawing crowds—including one that sent Crockett off the next morning.
He arrived in Memphis with a much-diminished company on Nov. 10. There that night much time was spent enjoying horns of drink with citizens and comrades at the Union Hotel, Hart’s Saloon and Neil McCool’s establishment.

At 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 11, Crockett and his entourage of six to eight men left Memphis on a packet steamboat. He obviously was recovering from a night of carousing. The steamboat traveled 311 miles down the Mississippi River and up the Arkansas River, arriving at Little Rock at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 12. The local newspapers reported that hundreds of people swarmed into town to get a look at Crockett, and a group of leading citizens put on a dinner in his honor that night at the Jeffries Hotel. He spoke “mainly to the subject of Texan independence,” as well as federal politics.

Washington, Arkansas

Crockett had traveled 150 miles in nine days on his large chestnut horse with the star on its forehead. He had at least three more traveling companions with him when he left Little Rock that morning. It was only 125 miles down the Southwest Trail to Washington, Arkansas, and just a few more miles to Texas. It is not known how long he stayed in Washington, maybe just overnight, because he was so close to that wonderful land called Texas.

Hugh Armstead Blevins history
On the way to Washington, Arkansas, Crockett stayed at the home (above) of Hugh Armstead Blevins in present-day Blevins, Arkansas.

He had stayed with an old and dear friend from Rutherford County Tennessee, Hugh Armstead Blevins, in present-day Blevins, Arkansas, before riding into Washington. Blevins family tradition maintains that Crockett went on a weeklong deer-hunting trip with Hugh. Crockett stayed at Elijah Stuart’s tavern next to James Black’s shop in Washington. The people came in from all around to hear Crockett speak from the courthouse steps. After some celebrating, Davy and a half-dozen mounted companions could have ridden to the Red River and crossed into Texas at Dooley’s ferry.
Some historians say he went down the Fort Towson road 115 miles and crossed the Red River into Texas at Jonesboro, just north of present-day Davenport, Texas. He may have crossed the Red River at Dooley’s Ferry just as W.G. Featherstonhaugh did.

Davy Crockett travels
Crockett stayed at Elijah Stuart’s tavern next to James Black’s shop in Washington. He may have crossed the Red River at Dooley’s Ferry as did W.G. Featherstonhaugh. Some say Crockett went down the Fort Towson road 115 miles and crossed the Red River into Texas.

Several weeks after the fall of the Alamo Crockett’s widow, Elizabeth, received a small package from Isaac Newton Jones. The package contained a watch with Crockett’s name engraved inside. In an accompanying letter, Jones wrote:

“Last winter, Colonel Crockett … passed through Lost Prairie, on the Red River, where I live … the Colonel visited me the next day, and spent the day with me. He observed, whilst here, that his funds were getting short, and proposed to me to exchange watches. He priced his at thirty dollars more than mine, which sum I paid to him, and we accordingly exchanged … I was gratified at the exchange, as it gave me a keepsake which would remind me of an honest man, a good citizen, and a pioneer in the cause of liberty … the object of this letter is to beg that you will accept the watch which accompanies it … please accept, dear madam, for yourself and your family …”

Crockett’s Letter

Davy Crockett De Kalb
Crockett reportedly suggested the name for De Kalb, Texas and traveled through the area on his way to the Alamo.

The distance from Lost Prairie to Nacogdoches down Trammel’s Trace was 165 to 170 miles. At the rate of 25 miles per day Crockett should have arrived at Nacogdoches, Texas before the end of November. Crockett and his entourage were welcomed in Nacogdoches on Jan. 5, 1836.

Here is what Crockett stated in a letter written to his son and daughter from St. Augustine, Texas, dated Jan. 9, 1836:

“This is the first time I have had the opportunity to write to you with convenience. I am now blessed with excellent health and am in high spirits. Although I have had many difficulties to encounter, I have got through safe, and have been received by everybody with the open arm of friendship. I am hailed with a hardy welcome to this country. A dinner and a party of Ladys have honored me with an invitation to participate with them, both in Nacogdoches and this place. The cannon was fired here on my arrival, and I must say, as to what I have seen of Texas, it is the garden spot of the world. The best land and the best prospect for health I ever saw is here, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here. There is a world of country to settle. It is not required here to pay down for your League of Land; every man is entitled to his head right of 4,000 & 428 acres. They may make the money to pay for it off the Land.

“I expect in all probability to settle on the Bodark or Choctaw Bayou of Red River. That, I have no doubt, is the richest country in the world. Good Land and plenty of timber, and the best springs and good mill streams. Good range, clear water and every appearance of good health, and game plenty. It is in the pass where the Buffalo passes from the north to south and back twice a year, and bees and honey plenty.

“I have a great hope of getting the agency to settle that country, and I would be glad to see every friend I have settle there. It would be a fortune to them all.

“I have taken the oath of the Government, and have enrolled my name as a volunteer for six months, and will set out for the Rio Grand in a few days with the volunteers from the United States. All volunteers is entitled to a vote for a member of the convention, or to be voted for, and I have but little doubt of being elected a member to form a constitution for this Province.

“I am rejoiced at my fate. I had rather be in my present situation than to be elected to a seat in Congress for life. I am in hopes of making a fortune for myself and family, bad as has been my prospects.

“I have not wrote to William, but have requested John to direct him what to do. I hope you show him this letter, and also your brother John, as it is not convenient at this time for me to write to them.

“I hope you will do the best you can, and I will do the same. Do not be uneasy about me, for I am with my friends.

“I must close, with great respects, your affectionate Father, Farewell David Crockett”

Crockett spent December roaming the north Texas countryside along the Red River visiting friends and looking for a prosperous place to settle down where there was good bear and buffalo hunting. He was also dodging Comanche Indians. He headed west along Ridge Trail or Choctaw Trail 175 miles along the Red River as far as Choctaw Bayou. Choctaw Bayou runs from Grayson County northeast into the Red River at the northwest corner of Fannin County above Sherman and Denison, Texas.

Davy Crockett Texas
Crockett stayed at Elijah Stuart’s tavern next to James Black’s shop in Washington. He may have crossed the Red River at Dooley’s Ferry as did W.G. Featherstonhaugh. Some say Crockett went down the Fort Towson road 115 miles and crossed the Red River into Texas.

It is said that the morale of the defenders of the Alamo in San Antonio enjoyed a boost on Feb. 8, 1836, when the former U.S. congressman from Tennessee, bear hunter and Indian fighter rode in with a contingent of Tennessee Mounted Volunteers.

Next time: The fortifications by the defenders and the probing of them by the Mexican Army during the Alamo siege.

Read part three of this series here.

Keep Learning About Knife History

BLADE magazine back issues

The Sea of Mud Knife: James Bowie’s Knife Found? Pt. 2

Sea of Mud knife

James Black’s original blacksmith shop was located on Franklin Street, one block northeast of the town square in Washington, Hempstead County of the Arkansas Territory. According to the author, Black made the Sea of Mud Knife. Click image for a larger view. (relic image courtesy of the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University Libraries)

Editor’s note: Read the first part of this series about the “Sea of Mud Knife” here.

“Only Men of Means Could Own One”

To acquire a James Black silver-mounted coffin-handle knife similar to how the Sea of Mud Knife originally appeared, you would have had to visit Black’s shop circa 1830 or so. The price would have been high—more than $20, which would be at least 500 in today’s dollars. Only men of means could own one.

There are indications Black made knives that were less ostentatious for the common man. These were tools and as tools were worn out and discarded. Few have survived.

James Black blacksmithing shop

The Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation built a recreation of James Black’s blacksmithing shop in Washington, Arkansas, in 1960.

Black’s shop was located on Franklin Street, one block northeast of the town square in Washington, Hempstead County of the Arkansas Territory. Black had apprenticed for Stephen Henderson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for at least nine years. Henderson learned the art and craft of making Sheffield silver plate in Sheffield, the cutlery center of England.

He could clad silver sheet to the ricasso area of the blade.

Black had set up his blacksmith shop on his town lot in 1829 after he married Anne Shaw. Black had worked in William Shaw’s shop doing general blacksmithing for five to six years. Black made knives of cast steel, the best steel known at the time from Sheffield. He knew how to heat treat to get the best cutting edge. Back then, most crossroads blacksmiths made knives of inferior steel with hardly any heat-treating expertise. Some were even made of wrought iron. Black’s knives became known for their edge holding, craftsmanship and beauty.

Plaque James Black blacksmithing shop

A cat keeps vigil on the rock pedestal that marks the original 1829-1832 location of Black’s shop (right). The iron plaque on the pedestal gives one version of how the original bowie knife was made. There are other versions, too.

The Southwest Trail

The frontier town of Washington is located on a sand hill in southwest Arkansas on the Southwest Trail. The Southwest Trail, or the Military Road, led from St. Louis, Missouri, diagonally across Arkansas through Washington to Fulton on the Red River. It was only 12 miles from Washington to Fulton. Across the Red River is Texas. In Texas, Trammel’s Trace led to Nacogdoches and to El Camino Royal—and to San Antonio de Bexar and the Alamo.

The Southwest Trail was the major land route from the Northern United States to Texas. You left Washington, D.C., by the National Road to Parkersburg, West Virginia, and boarded a steamboat to the Falls of the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky. You crossed the river to New Albany, Indiana, and took a stagecoach to East St. Louis, and crossed the Mississippi River to the Southwest Trail. You could also go by steamboat down the Mississippi River and up the Arkansas River to Little Rock and down the Southwest Trail.

Three other roads intersected at Washington. The road due west led to Fort Towson in the Indian Territory above the Red River and the ferry crossing into Jonesboro, Texas. A road led due east past Nick Trammel’s Tavern through Camden to Gaines Landing on the Mississippi River in Chicot County, Arkansas. Trammel’s Trace, the route in Texas to Nacogdoches, originated at Trammel’s Place and crossed the Red River at Dooley’s Ferry below Fulton. The other trail led south to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and to Texas.

From 1832 to 1834 most of the Choctaw Nation was removed from Mississippi and Alabama down the Southwest Trail from Little Rock, or from Gaines Landing across the Mississippi River from the Choctaw Trail, which intersected the Natchez Trace in Mississippi. From Washington they proceeded down the Fort Towson Road to Doaksville, Oklahoma, one mile west of Fort Towson.

Black’s Shop Visitors

Two struggling young lawyers from Logan County Kentucky who died at the Alamo, Daniel William Cloud, 21, and Peter James Bailey III, 26, passed by Black’s Shop in the fall of 1835 on their way to Texas. Could they have bought the Sea of Mud knife from Black? They had headed to Illinois where they heard there were more clients.

However, they found the weather too cold, the fees too low, and the “Yankee Lawyers” too active. They went down the Southwest Trail in Missouri and found the same thing. So they went further south through Arkansas to the Red River. From there they took the road to Natchitoches, Louisiana.

James Black blacksmithing shop

The sign outside the recreation of James Black’s blacksmith shop carries the year 1961. According to at least one other source, the recreation was built in 1960.

On Dec. 29, 1835, near Natchitoches, Cloud wrote his brother a letter describing his trip to Texas:

“We found Arkansas Territory in some places rich, well watered and healthy and society tolerably good, but the great body of the country is stony, sandy, and mountainous, in passing through, we traveled ten days constantly in crossing the mountains.

“On Red River the lands were immensely rich, and planters also, many of them worth two and three hundred thousand dollars. Had we chosen to locate in Arkansas, we could have made money rapidly if blessed with health and life; dockets and fees being large.

“The reason for our pushing still further on must now be told, and as it is a master one, it will suffice without the mention of any other one. Ever since Texas has unfurled the Banner of Freedom, and commenced warfare of liberty or death, our hearts have been enlisted in her behalf. The progress of her cause has increased the ardor of our feeling until we have resolved to embark in the vessel which contains the Flag of Liberty and sink or swim in its defense.”

An Englishman, George William Featherstonhaugh (pronounced “Fenshawe”) came down the Southwest Trail through Washington in late November or early December 1834.

He writes in his journal, Excursions Through the Slave States of North America:

“And we made an agreeable excursion in the neighborhood, calling for a short time at the little insignificant wooden village of Washington, where the government land sales were holding.

“I was not desirous of remaining long at this place. General Houston was here, leading a mysterious sort of life, shut up in a small tavern, seeing nobody by day and sitting up all night … There were many persons at this time in the village from the states lying adjacent to the Mississippi, under the pretense of purchasing government land, but whose real object was to encourage the settlers in Texas to throw off their allegiance to the Mexican government.”

Sam Houston was back from his peacemaking journey among the Texas Indians. He was staying at Elijah Stuart’s Tavern that was next to Black’s shop on one side and the town square on the other.

Plantation Bound

“It was a charming sunny day, the thermometer (Dec 11) stood at 74 degrees out of doors, and not a cloud in the sky,” Featherstonhaugh wrote.

The Englishman crossed the Red River at Dooley’s Ferry into what the ferryman called “Spain.” After three or four miles, Featherstonhaugh came upon a dry and black land called Lost Prairie, “a tract of about 2,000 acres of incredible beauty and fertility, bearing extraordinary crops of cotton, and gracefully surrounded by picturesque woods.”

James Black Judge Buzzard bowie knife history

After James Black (believed to be at left in the above vintage daguerreotype) lost his eyesight, Dr. Isaac Newton Jones tried to restore it circa 1840. Around the same time, Black went to live with Judge Jacob Buzzard (believed to be at right) on Buzzard Bluff southeast of Dr. Jones’ plantation.

He rode to Dr. Isaac Newton Jones’ plantation and spent the night. After a short stay exploring this area of Texas, Featherstonhaugh returned to Little Rock upon his steed, Missouri, loaded down with bundles of Texas treasures. He then went to New Orleans by steamboat.

The Jones plantation is located about 3.5 miles south of Fulton in Miller County, Arkansas. In 1835, Lost Prairie was in the Texas province of Mexico but was also claimed as part of the Arkansas Territory. Arkansas Gov. Daniel Webster Jones was born on the plantation on Dec. 15, 1839.
Southeast of the Jones plantation is Buzzard Bluff, home of Judge Jacob Buzzard. In about 1840 after James Black had lost his eyesight, Black lived with Jacob Buzzard on Buzzard Bluff. Buzzard died in 1842.

Meanwhile, try as he might, Dr. Isaac Newton Jones could not restore Black’s eyesight. However, he took Black into his home and cared for him.

After Jones died in 1858, his wife and the Jones’s son, Daniel Webster Jones, cared for Black until Black’s death in 1872. Daniel penned the definitive story of Black’s life in 1902. In that story he wrote: “About 1833 or 1834, perhaps earlier, James Bowie came to Washington and gave Black an order for a knife …”

Read part three of this series here.

Keep Learning About Knife History

BLADE magazine back issues

The Sea of Mud Knife: James Bowie’s Knife Found? Pt. 1

James Bowie history
Did the corroded coffin-handle bowie knife relic found by Dr. Gregg J. Dimmick in the Sea of Mud belong to James Bowie? Note the absence of a guard, one of the design traits of James Black. At press time the relic was in storage at Texas A&M University along with other items found in the Sea of Mud. (relic image courtesy of the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University Libraries)

Off to See a Relic

Jim Bowie knife Alamo history
BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame© members B.R. Hughes (left) and the author, James L. Batson, stand in line outside the Alamo Chapel before entering it in 2012.

On a warm and sunny Saturday morning in August 2010, my friend and fellow BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame© member, B.R. Hughes, and I left the American Bladesmith Society All-Forged Knife Expo at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, on foot to hike the quarter mile to the Alamo. Our mission was to see the coffin-handle bowie knife relic in the Sea of Mud exhibit at the Alamo gift shop. The relic had been unearthed years earlier by Dr. Gregg J. Dimmick, author of the highly acclaimed book, Sea of Mud.

Made during Cutlery Hall-Of-Famer James Bowie’s lifetime, the relic may have been used in the defense of the Alamo, which fell on March 6, 1836. I had not seen the relic but ABS master smith Greg Neely had sent me a picture he had taken a few years earlier. Below the relic was a placard with the following inscription: BOWIE KNIFE.

The relic is iron and has brass connectors in the handle. There are two small strips of decorated silver on the blade near the handle on both sides. A very small amount of the silver can still be seen. The relic had been cleaned by electrolysis. The relic is interesting due to its similarity to Bowie No. 1, the coffin-handle bowie attributed to James Black of Washington, Arkansas.


james black bowie knives
The Carrigan coffin-handle bowie knife James L. Batson indicates was made by James Black more closely resembles the relic than either the Marks & Rees or Crown Alpha knives. The Carrigan is on display in the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. (Courtesy Historic Arkansas Museum, Little Rock, AR)
History of bowie knives
The knife known as Bowie No. 1 does not have the same pin pattern as the relic but has many of the same characteristics of the Carrigan bowie. Bowie No. 1 has a bigger handle and much longer blade. Overall length: 18.5 inches. (image from The Antique Bowie Knife Book)

I had learned early on that you cannot identify or verify an authentic bowie knife unless you hold it and see it—in this case, eyeball to rusty metal. From Greg’s picture I could not be sure how big the relic was. However, from the shape of the blade and coffin handle, along with the pin pattern and the studs in the handle and the silver overlays on the blade in front of the handle, I suspected that it was made by Black circa 1831-1838, in Washington, Hempstead County, Arkansas Territory.

From my bowie knife research, I have concluded that Black originated the coffin-handle style that became one of the most popular of bowie knives. A Black knife did not have a guard. Makers in America and Sheffield, England, incorporated guards into the design.

antique bowie knife history
Crown Alpha of Sheffield, England, also made coffin-handle bowies with silver overlays on the ricasso, this one for Gravely & Wreaks of New York.
marks rees bowie knives
Marks & Rees of Cincinnati, Ohio, made coffin-handle bowies with silver overlays on the ricasso. Marks & Rees was the first to advertise bowies for sale.

Two of those that made coffin-handle bowies with the silver overlays on the ricasso area were Marks & Rees of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Crown Alpha of Sheffield for Gravely & Wreaks in New York. Marks & Rees was the first to advertise bowie knives for sale, and the Crown Alpha Bowie had Arkansas Toothpick elaborately etched on the blade.

As you can see in the fourth image up, the small Carrigan knife made by Black more closely resembles the relic than the Marks & Rees (above) or the Crown Alpha knives (above Marks & Rees). Also, you can see that Bowie No. 1 (third image up) does not have the same pin pattern as the relic but has many of the same characteristics of the Carrigan. Bowie No. 1 has a bigger handle and much longer blade (13.5 inches).

“I Could Tell He Made It”

B.R. and I arrived at the Alamo gift shop after paying homage to the fallen by visiting the Alamo Chapel. Boy, was the Sea of Mud exhibit crowded! We had to stand in line.

There was the relic and I could tell Black made it. I could tell from the studs that at one time had secured wood scales to the full tang. To my knowledge, Black was the only person to use this technique. The blade lengths of the relic and seven known silver-mounted Black-made, coffin-handle bowies are about 6 inches, with handle lengths of about 4 inches. The placement of the six pins looks as if Black used the same pattern to drill the holes in the tang of each knife.

The relic had been on or in the ground for at least 160 years, but where were the top-and-bottom silver tang wraps? Where were the two silver wraps around the front of the wood scales? Where were the two silver escutcheon plates? Where was the silver pommel wrap, and where were the twelve domed silver washers that secured the scales to the tang? And where were the walnut scales?

If the relic had been dropped by accident or lost, some of the silver mountings should have been part of the artifact, since silver is a noble metal and difficult to corrode. The wood may have deteriorated or rotted away, taking some of the attached silver mounts with it.

Lost to Time

bowie knife sea of mud
The coffin-handle bowie knife relic was found on the west side of the West Bernard River below the mouth of Clarks Creek in Wharton County, not far from Hungerford, Texas. Mexican Gen. José de Urrea’s division crossed the West Bernard River from west to east on April 20, 1836, the day before the Battle of San Jacinto and a month-and-a-half after the fall of the Alamo.

I contacted Dr. Dimmick and asked if he found any evidence of silver or wood in the soil adjacent to the artifact. He said nothing was found in the proximity of the relic but that a brass pommel cap was found at the same site, though not near the relic.

The relic could have been lost and over time lost the silver mountings. Or, a Mexican soldier or camp follower who needed money and valued the relic only for the silver he or she could remove from it may have retrieved the relic, and the relic was not lost but discarded after the silver fittings and wooden scales were removed. Silver could not be removed from the blade. It was soldered with tin.
A Mexican officer with some wealth may have kept the knife, especially if it had a coin-silver-mounted sheath.

The coffin-handle bowie knife relic was found on the west side of the West Bernard River below the mouth of Clarks Creek in Wharton County, not far from Hungerford, Texas. The West Bernard River was crossed from west to east by Mexican Gen. José de Urrea’s division on April 20, 1836, the day before the Battle of San Jacinto.

According to Dr. Dimmick, “Based on the distances recorded by the San Luis Battalion on April 19, it is believed that this site was not a campsite. The campsite of April 19 was probably near present-day Spanish Camp, Texas. If this is correct, it is theorized that the site discovered on the West Bernard is where Urrea and his division crossed the river during their advance. It is possible that these artifacts were discarded at the site as the units awaited their turn to cross. The artifacts from this site are consistent with the above theory.”

Gen. Urrea’s division was not at the Alamo. However, then-Col. Juan Morales and his men were, and they reinforced Urrea after the fall of the Alamo. (It was about 100 men under Morales’ direction who attacked the Low Barracks where James Bowie was killed during the Alamo battle.)

Urrea subsequently led his division along the coast from Matamoros to Goliad and Victoria. His primary opposition led by Col. James W. Fannin consisted of volunteer units from the United States.
These troops took steamboats down the Mississippi River to New Orleans and went over land or by sea to Texas. The Matamoros Expedition led by Col. Francis Johnson and Dr. James Grant consisted of the New Orleans Greys and the Mobile Greys. None of these troops had been through Washington, Arkansas, or heard of James Black.

So, was the coffin-handle bowie relic owned by a defender at the Alamo? And if so, how did it get from Washington, Arkansas, Territory to the Alamo, and from the Alamo to the West bank of the West Bernard River? Was this James Bowie’s knife?

Read part 2 here.

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