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"Point of Fork Arsenal" type bayonet

1780-1800
Origin: America, Virginia, Fluvanna County
Socket: 2 3/4" Blade: 13 1/4" x 1 1/8" Overall: 16 9/16"
Iron / Steel
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2012-173
From Point of Fork Arsenal in Fluvanna County
Label:From the great quantity of incomplete forgings found at the site of Point of Fork Arsenal, we know that the socket bayonets being made there were based on the French M-1763 series. Bayonets of this basic type were first made in America during the closing years of the Revolution, and are the direct ancestors of those produced by the Federal Government into the19th century.

Similarities between the earlier French and later American bayonets end at the design. These Virginia-made bayonets were structurally flawed, and could not stand up to the hard use a military bayonet was expected to endure. Many of the incomplete bayonet forgings found at the site show that there was a seam right where the shank (or elbow) transitions into the blade, creating a weak point where strength was imperative.

This example, one of a small handful known to survive, exhibits this tell-tale seam, allowing an attribution to Point of Fork Arsenal. Since this flaw would have been discovered quickly, it is thought that these bayonets were amongst the earliest such weapons produced at the arsenal. Currently, the identity of the "PH" who struck his initials on the blade is unknown.

See Joseph R. Marsden's "Bayonet Manufacture at the Point of Fork Arsenal Virginia, 1781-1801," (Journal of the Society of Bayonet Collectors, Vol. 20, Summer, 1997, pp. 2-3) and Richard Crouch's "Bayonet Manufacture at the Point of Fork Arsenal, VA." (Military Collector & Historian, Vol. XIX, No 4, Winter 1967, pp.123-124).
Provenance:Joseph R. Marsden collection.
Mark(s):Base of blade stamped "LH."