A Henry Sears and Sons pocket knife; 1865 patent
A pair of knives of the kind carried by many men of the era
Pocket knives were an item every soldier was bound to carry. There were a wide variety of types available, some specialized some very ordinary.
A trio of sailors knives made in France
Every man carries a pocket knife. It is one of the most useful everyday tools a man can have. I have owned a variety of pocket knives over the years and have found I prefer “sailors knives” for everyday use. Simple and robust I use it for everything from an eating utensil to creating kindling for the fire. Over the years I have managed to acquire several different styles of pocket knives. I cannot imagine a time when every man does not have a pocket knife on his person.
During the war one of my men, Kevin, carried several different knives. I never really understood the need for more than one pocket knife but I sometimes saw him with as many as three. He used them for a variety of different things and viewed them as relatively disposable. I also recall him giving one of his pocket knives to a young boy sitting on his porch watching our column march by. Within minutes the child was happily whittling away on a stick.
Every dry goods, hardware and sutler has a variety of knives available for sale at a cheap price. Their quality varies considerably. The pocket knife is the one tool I always have on me.