The civil war on Haiti called the War of Knives (1799-1800) was fought between Toussaint Louverture and André Rigaud (basically, blacks from North Haiti versus mulattoes established in the South).
Wikipedia article on Toussaint Louverture:
Toussaint delegated most of the campaign to his lieutenant,
Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who became infamous, during and after the
war, for massacring mulatto captives and civilians. The number of
deaths is contested: James claims a few hundred deaths in
contravention of the amnesty. The contemporary French general,
Pamphile de Lacroix, suggested 10,000.
Dessalines really had a fixation with death-by-machete. After seizing the power, he ordered the Haiti massacre of 1804:
Dessalines later gave the order to all cities on Haiti that all white
men should be put to death. The weapons used should be silent
weapons such as knives and bayonets rather than gunfire, so that the
killing could be done more quietly, and avoid warning intended victims
by the sound of gunfire and thereby giving them the opportunity to
My guess is the War of Knives got its name because the irregular fighting and lots of saved ammo.
Googling your question brings two more possible answers:
The black/mulatto civil war of 1799 was bitterest of all - known as
the War of Knives because the combatants were inspired by their
reciprocal hatred to throw down their guns and attack each other with
nails and teeth instead. (
lol, i mean... link)
On June 16, 1799 Rigaud attacked Petit Goave, putting many people to
death with the sword. It was from Rigaud's violence with the sword
that this civil war got it's name -- The War of Knives. (link)