Rare Revolutionary War Era Hand-Made “Caltrop” Weapon
c. 1775 Revolutionary War Era, Hand-Made anti-personnel and anti-horse Caltrop (Spike) Weapon, Choice Very Fine.
Extremely rare, original Revolutionary War Era Hand-Made Caltrop. Each spike measures about 1.5”. Caltrops were small antipersonnel and anti-horse weapons with 4 sharpened spikes that would be scatted on roads or trails and in stream beds to puncture boots or hooves and disable the victim. These were designed with the 4 spikes so there was always one pointing up. Similar to one pictured on page 57 of “Collector’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution” by George Neumann and Frank Kravic, 1977. An outstanding, sharp and impressive example.
A caltrop (also known as caltrap, galtrop, cheval trap, calthrop, jackrock or crow's foot) is an antipersonnel weapon made up of two or more sharp nails or multiple spines arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base (for example, a tetrahedron). Caltrops were part of defences that served to slow the advance of horses, war elephants, and human troops.
The late Roman writer Vegetius, referring in his work De Re Militari to scythed chariots, wrote:
The armed chariots used in war by Antiochus and Mithridates at first terrified the Romans, but they afterwards made a jest of them. As a chariot of this sort does not always meet with plain and level ground, the least obstruction stops it. And if one of the horses be either killed or wounded, it falls into the enemy's hands.
The Roman soldiers rendered them useless chiefly by the following contrivance: at the instant the engagement began, they strewed the field of battle with caltrops, and the horses that drew the chariots, running full speed on them, were infallibly destroyed. A caltrop is a device composed of four spikes or points arranged so that in whatever manner it is thrown on the ground, it rests on three and presents the fourth upright.
Another example of the use of caltrops was found in Jamestown, Virginia, in the United States:
Undoubtedly the most unusual weapon or military device surviving from seventeenth-century Virginia is known as a caltrop, a single example of which has been found at Jamestown. It amounts to a widely spread iron tripod about three inches long with another leg sticking vertically upward, so that however you throw it down, one spike always sticks up.
There is no doubt that the most inscrutable Indian treading on a caltrop would be shocked into noisy comment. ... The fact that only one has been found would seem to suggest that they were used little, if at all. As with all military equipment designed for European wars, the caltrop’s presence in Virginia must be considered in the light of possible attacks by the Spaniards as well as assaults from the Indians.