The hatchet or belt axe was a weapon synonymous with warfare on the North American frontier. More versatile than other edged weapons such as swords and bayonets, hatchets were essential tools during military campaigns. In addition to combat, they were employed for numerous daily functions such cutting firewood or building an advance camp. This example is probably English-made. It does not have the series of asterisk marks typical of French trade axe heads. Recovered from a 1690 shipwreck, the hatchet belonged to a member of the militia from Dorcester, Massachusetts. The hatchet's owner took part in a naval expedition that sailed from Boston with the goal of taking Québec. After a brief engagement near Québec, Major General William Phips abandoned the campaign. One of thirty-two ships in the expedition, the Elizabeth and Mary sank on its return voyage.
Date: circa 1690