Re: [War Of 1812] Fort Meigs axe
Check this out.
Found at <http://www.geocities.com/old_lead/oops.htm>
The "Fort Meigs Belt Axe."
Many vendors carry this neat little item, often with the descriptor
that it is copied from an axe “found at Fort Meigs.” One such
description reads: “is a copy of an early hunter's belt axe found at
the site of Fort Meigs.”
Other descriptive discussions indicate that the axe was issued to
American soldiers during the War of 1812 (perhaps an extrapolation of
the Fort Meigs association.) Many woodsrunning and War of 1812
reenactors carry this axe based on these descriptions. Their comments
generally note that while the axe is lightweight and very portable, it
is simply too light for anything other than very modest chopping
chores. Practically no one has questioned its provenance.
There’s just one problem. Fort Meigs State Memorial at Perrysville,
Ohio reports it has no artifact like the “Fort Meigs Belt Axe” in its
Retired Illinois State Blacksmith James Patton first brought to my
attention the lack or artifact or other provenancial association with
Fort Meigs. Other investigators have weighed in to confirm this
assertion. Researcher Randy Wolfe wrote: “There is an ‘original,’ was
found on the Maumee not actually at Ft M, currently owned by Jim
Johnson. Ft Meigs does have, in its collection, an axe (full sized not
belt) that is a scaled up version of the 'Meigs Axe'. After years of
research, I haven’t found any other originals that match the shape and
weight of the so-called "Ft Meigs Axe".
If there is no provenance for this hatchet as being from Fort Meigs,
what exactly IS this tool?
One answer may be found in the late Dr. Carl Russell’s Firearms,
Traps, and Tools of the Mountain Men. On pages 264-5, Dr. Russell
described the tool as a “Kentucky” model ax “with a fourteen inch
handle; the blade is about 5 inches long, with a cutting edge of 1 7/8
inches.” He noted that while original specimens are rare, one
documented example was attributed to General Samuel Hopkins, circa
“late eighteenth century,” in the collection of the Audubon Museum,
Henderson, Kentucky. The line illustration of General Hopkins’ axe very
strongly favors the so-called “Fort Meigs belt axe” found in reenacting
Dr. Russell continued: “The Kentucky Model… continued in favor all
through the fur trade days…” He recorded several merchants--including
the fur-trading post at present-day Milwaukee, Wisconsin-- that either
purchased or looked to purchase such Kentucky or “Yankee” axes from the
post-Revolutionary war days through 1845.
CONCLUSION: The “Fort Meigs belt axe” has been incorrectly named
because of association with "artifacts" at the historic site of the
same name, which reportedly do not exist. According to Dr. Russell, the
tool should properly be termed the “Kentucky axe” or the "Kentucky belt
On 29-Jun-07, at 6:38 PM, Michael Mathews wrote:
> What's the current opinion on the "Fort Meigs Axe" regarding
> appropriateness for our period and functionality? Thinking about
> getting one as a belt axe and for camp use. Your opinions are
> welcomed. Facts even more so. <grin>
> He either fears his fate too much,
> Or his deserts are small,
> Who dares not put it to the touch,
> To win or lose it all.
> --Montrose's Toast
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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