(April Fools’ Day) Bowie Knife From 1827 Sandbar Fight Found

James Bowie knife
(relic image courtesy of the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University Libraries)
jim bowie knife history
The Bowie knife is named after James Bowie, although the design was likely around well before the infamous Sandbar Fight of 1827.

NEW ORLEANS – Today, archeologists with the University of Louisiana announced they’ve recovered the knife wielded by James Bowie during the infamous 1827 Sandbar Fight. The bloody encounter, which took place on the banks of the Mississippi River near Vidalia, cemented said knife’s design into what is now known as the Bowie knife. Researchers have attempted to locate the knife Bowie used ever since.

As surprising as this discovery is, it’s nothing to compared to the shocking truth hidden beneath nearly 200 years of history.

“We came across this discovery during a dig for a separate project to study Mississippi flooding patterns as expressed in pre-colonial pottery dispersal, in concert with our partners at [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration],” said Dr. Edward D. Wood, Jr. “I don’t often use the word ‘excited,’ but that accurately reflects the dig team’s feelings.”

“The World Of Knives Will Never Be The Same”

bowie knife
This example of a modern interpretation of a Bowie knife is by ABS master smith Shawn McIntyre. (Shawn McIntyre image)

Wood immediately contacted BLADE for confirmation following the discovery before going public with the find.

“The lore around the Sandbar Fight is so deep, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. However, I feel confident that what Wood’s team discovered is, in fact, the exact weapon brandished by James Bowie at the Sandbar Fight,” said Steve Shackleford, BLADE editor-in-chief. “As such, it redefines our understanding of knife history and of James Bowie completely. Earth-shattering is an understatement.”

Other BLADE staffers echoed Shackleford’s sentiments. 

“This is, hands down, the most important piece of knife history to come around in generations. There’s no going back after this. The world of knives will never be the same,” said Ben Sobieck, BLADE online editor.

The Bowie Knife: Not What Most People Picture

Bowie knife design
Jerry Fisk’s take on the Bowie knife features a damascus blade and stag handle. (Chuck Ward image)

As it turns out, the knife James Bowie used during the brawl isn’t actually the Bowie knife people know today (example above). Because the original knife was never photographed, it could only be described in written reports. This may have led to some confusion as word spread.

“It’s like a game of telephone, 19th century style,” Wood said. “Now that we know the truth, it’s easy to see how the original description morphed into something completely different throughout the decades.”

Only BLADE Has The Photo Of The Original Bowie Knife

BLADE is the first and only outlet authorized to share the photo of the original Bowie knife. Wood snapped the picture before recovering the artifact.

“Only now can we share this image with our audience,” Shackleford said. “It’s going to burst a lot of bubbles, but we feel it’s important.”

“This calls into question the entire Sandbar Fight. What really happened on the banks of the Mississippi River all those years ago?” Sobieck said. “Was there really a brawl? Or did the aggrieved parties resolve their disputes through non-violent means?

“Perhaps there was, dare I say it, a pie-making contest?”

The evidence certainly points that way.

“I can’t come to any other conclusion,” Wood said.

EXCLUSIVE PHOTO: The Original Bowie Knife Wasn’t A Knife At All

James Bowie’s “knife” was, in fact, a can opener. 

Happy April Fools’ Day

“The can opener’s proximity to the canned pumpkin points to a pie-making contest, in which James Bowie was clearly the victor. How this simple fact distorted into a bloody brawl is beyond me,” Wood said. “We carbon dated the dirt and everything checks out.”

“One more note I’d like to add is that it’s April 1, which is April Fools’ Day, and that I feel that the BLADE staff did a great job with this year’s prank,” Shackleford said.

“Definitely. And now I’m hungry for some pie. Pumpkin, apple, strawberry, it doesn’t really matter. I’ll put a pot on, too,” Sobieck said.

Happy April Fools’ Day

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