Madison County, Virginia Side Knife by Benjamin Wilhoite, Inscribed to Captain St. Clair T. Deane, Company B, 2nd Battalion Virginia Heavy Artillery, “Greene Rough & Readies”


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Madison County, Virginia Side Knife by Benjamin Wilhoite, Inscribed to Captain St. Clair T. Deane, Company B, 2nd Battalion Virginia Heavy Artillery, “Greene Rough & Readies” – In their work Confederate Bowie Knives (2012), Josh Phillips, Jack Melton and John Sexton compiled significant amount of informative information about Confederate knives. In the introduction to their chapter on Benjamin Wilhoite, of Madison County, Virginia, they reference a passage in an earlier work by Harold Woodward, Jr., The Confederate Knives of Madison County, Virginia (1996) that describes Wilhoite’s blacksmithing  and knife manufacturing – the latter process involved providing edged weapons for local Confederate regiments:

“Born in 1812 in Madison County, Benjamin Wilhoite built a blacksmith shop in the village of Wolftown, halfway between the county seats of Madison and Greene.  Three slaves assisted him in the 40 x 28-ft. three-forge shop…Wilhoite made knives for men serving in at least five different local units, the Greene Rough and Readies (Capt. St. Clair T. Deane’s Artillery Co.), the Jeff Davis Guards (10th Virginia Infantry), the Madison Invincibles (Co. C, 4th Virginia Infantry, Co. F, 13th Virginia Inf. and the Greene County Home Guards.  We do not believe that he outfitted these entire units with knives, but rather he supplied knives to any desirous recruits.”

This Wilhoite knife is categorized, in the Phillips work, as a Madison County Type II Officer’s Side knife; Phillips, et. al. describe this knife in more detail:

“This Wilhoite officer’s knife belonged to the very commander of the Greene Rough & Readies, Captain St. Clair T. Deane.  Nearly identical to the three other known Wilhoite Type II knives, the blade is forged from heavy stock and is expertly hollow ground.  Iron bolsters are forged to the tang at the guard and pommel, framing the snake-shaped walnut slabs in an elegant manner.  The two iron pins that hold the slabs were also checkered in the same pattern.  An ivory plaque – appearing to be a recycled piano key – was inlaid into one slab and engraved “Capt. St. Clair T. Deane/Co. B/2nd Bn. Va. H. Arty.”  Captain Deane was 51 years old at the start of the war.  A prominent, well-respected farmer in Greene County, he was Assistant Marshal of the 1860 Greene County Federal Census, and his signature was at the top of every census page.  Likely because of his respect in the community – and not because of prior military service – he was elected Captain of the newly formed Greene Rough and Readies on May 17, 1861, at Stanardsville in Greene County.  Deane, along with his company, officially entered state service on June 11 and were mustered into Confederate service on July 1, 1861.  The unit saw very little action and underwent several reorganizations, first to the 2nd Battalion of Virginia Heavy Artillery in the late summer of 1861, then the 4th Heavy Artillery, and finally to Co. D, 34th Virginia Infantry.  No combat for the unit is recorded until the siege of Petersburg.”

This rare, identified knife was purchased directly from a Deane family member, at the Maryland Antique Arms Show, in 1961; it remains in overall excellent condition. The blade, which is 2” in width, at the base, tapers to a width of 1.25”, at the ricasso. The blade remains in excellent, untouched condition, with some minor, scattered staining and some light very light pitting, near the ricasso. All iron-mounted, the knife has an S-shaped guard, with checkered, walnut, thermoplastic or gutta percha slab grips. Incised in one side of the grip is a mellow-patinated, ivory plaque, possibly fashioned, in the period of use, from a piano key; inscribed on this plaque is the following:

Capt. St. Clair T. Deane

Co. B.

2nd Bn. Va. H. Arty.

The knife is comparable and similar in construction to three other known, Wilhoite, Type II knives. The knife has an S-shaped guard; walnut, thermoplastic or gutta percha slab, “snake shaped” grip; a heavy stock, hollow ground, forged blade; iron bolsters forged to the blade at both the guard and the pommel; the iron pins that affix the checkered, grips to the handle, are also checkered or scored to match. Contributing to the rarity, the knife is accompanied by its original, leather over tin scabbard; the body of the scabbard is intact, although there is some quite noticeable, age-related insect and worm damage.  This exact knife is featured on p. 204 in the book Confederate Bowie Knives authored by Josh Phillips, John Sexton, and Jack Melton.

Captain Deane was 51 years old at the onset of the Civil War; he was a prominent and respected farmer in Greene County, Virginia.  As a respected and prominent citizen of Greene County, Deane was elected as Captain of the newly formed “Greene Rough and Readies” on May 17, 1861, when the regiment formed in Stanardsville, Virginia. The new regiment officially entered into the service of the Confederate Army on July 1, 1861. The unit would see only a modicum of action during most of the war and underwent several episodes of reorganization, initially, during the summer of 1861, reorganizing as the 4th Virginia Heavy Artillery and finally becoming Co. D 34th Virginia Infantry. This unit did not engage in any combat until the Siege of Petersburg, in 1864.

Name St. Clair T. Dean
Side Confederate
Regiment State/Origin Virginia
Regiment 34th Regiment, Virginia Infantry
Company D
Rank In Captain
Rank Out Captain






Name      St Clair T Dean

Age 47
Birth Year abt 1815
Enlistment Date 1862
Military Unit Thirty-Fourth Infantry

St. Clair Thomas Deane


BIRTH 11 DEC 1811 • Greene County, Virginia, United States of America

DEATH 1 JUN 1894 • Greene County, Virginia, United States of America


St Clair T Deane





Death Age:


Birth Date:


Death Date:

Jun 1894

Death Place:

Greene, Virginia

Cause of Death:

Old Age

Virginia 34th Infantry, Company D


  • Number Of Soldiers:373


  • Died In Unit:2(1%)
  • Died In War:12(3%)
  • Wounded:1(0%)


  • First Enlistment Date:1861(110 servicepersons)


  • Muster In Date:Mar 8, 1864
  • Muster Out Date:Apr 9, 1865
  • Muster Out Place:
    • Appomattox Court House, Virginia
  • Aliases:
    • Greene Rough and Readys


Name Start Date End Date Duration Place
Second Petersburg Jun 15, 1864 Jun 18, 1864 3 day(s) Petersburg, Virginia

Virginia 34th Infantry

  • Muster In Date:Mar 8, 1864
  • Muster Out Date:Apr 9, 1865
  • Muster Out Place:
    • Appomattox Court House, Virginia
  • Leaders:
    • Brigadier General Bushrod Johnson
    • Brigadier General Henry A. Wise
    • Colonel J. Thomas Goode
    • Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Harrison
    • Major John R. Bagby
    • Major General Bushrod Johnson
Name Start Date End Date Duration Place
Appomattox Court House Apr 9, 1865 Apr 9, 1865 < 1 day Appomattox Court House, Virginia
Crater Jul 30, 1864 Jul 30, 1864 < 1 day Petersburg, Virginia
Fort Stedman Mar 25, 1865 Mar 25, 1865 < 1 day Petersburg, Virginia
Port Walthall Junction May 6, 1864 May 7, 1864 1 day(s) Chesterfield County, Virginia
Sailor’s Creek Apr 6, 1865 Apr 6, 1865 < 1 day Amelia County, Virginia; Prince Edward County,

Virginia; Nottoway County, Virginia

Second Petersburg Jun 15, 1864 Jun 18, 1864 3 day(s) Petersburg, Virginia

Served as 4th Heavy Artillery from 1862-05-15 to 1864-03-08