The Big Butcher Knife

Jim Bowie’s favorite weapon gained notice in a duel.

Jim Bowie (illustration) first made his name at the so-called Sandbar Fight outside of Natchez, Mississippi. It was September 1827, and Bowie was seconding Samuel Wells in his duel with Dr. Thomas Maddox. Neither of the principals hit the other—but then it turned into a melee. It left two men dead and two others—including Bowie—badly wounded. But most spectators came away with one particular impression: of the “big butcher knife” that Bowie wielded to such deadly effect. It would later be called the Bowie Knife.

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