Bowie Knife

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BOWIE KNIFE. Devised by either Rezin P. Bowie or his brother James, who died in the siege of the Alamo, the Bowie knife achieved fame in the Sandbar duel in 1827, when Jim Bowie killed a man. It has since become the subject of a cycle of heroic folktales. Although supplanted by the Colt six-shooter, it was standard equipment for frontiersmen and backwoodsmen for four decades. Mountain men used a modified form of the Bowie knife, Texas Rangers rode with it, and Mississippi River pirates disemboweled their victims with it. With a strong, well-guarded blade that could be thrown as well as wielded, it was both economical and practical for skinning, cutting meat, eating, fighting duels, hammering, and performing other functions.


Davis, William C. Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis. New York: Harper Collins, 1998.

J. FrankDobie/c. w.

See alsoAlamo, Siege of the ; Frontier .

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bowie knife a long knife with a blade double-edged at the point. It is named after the American frontiersman Jim Bowie (1789–1836), who shared command of the garrison that resisted the Mexican attack on the Alamo, where he died.