Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NC, U.S.A.
Hammer pole axes were another popular ax of this era (18th-19th c.), but with very rare exception, were not used by the native peoples. These types were carried by soldiers, fur traders, explorers, etc. Some were mostly for tool use first, but also as a weapon in a pinch. Here are two early examples. The smaller piece is a true tool ax from around the time of the American Revolution. The 'hammer' end was indeed used for driving in nails/pegs. Note the nail pulling slot is a much later addition to this ax, which was drilled out and cut to form the slot.
Compare the smaller ax to the larger example and you will not the huge hammer end to the head. This end was NOT used as a tool, but served as a counter weight to give heft to the ax. This second example is a type known as a 'rifleman's belt ax', Second Pattern as identified by Hartzler's book and Neumann's 'Swords and Blades of the American Revolution'. If you didn't know what you were looking at, most would swear this is just a common shingling tool. This is why collecting these types can be tricky. Spike axes of old influenced the trench axes and fire axes and boy scout axes later!! Likewise, these hammer pole axe/tomahawks certainly morphed into the patterns of later tool axes. This ax is both tool and weapon and does deserve the title of 'tomahawk'. It should be noted that hammer pole tomahawks were issued to Sam Houston's 'Texican Army' and were used to graphic and bloody effect against Santa Anna's army after the Alamo. Likewise, Davie Crochet himself carried a presentation hammer pole tomahawk presented to him by friends in the 1820's.