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During the Napoleon wars the main weapon of the cavalryman was the sabre. Its usage far outweighed the use of lances or even firearms from horse back and due to the dashing image many cavalry units actually never used firearms issued relying on their swords instead. All the countries involved in the conflict had their own patterns of sabre and this depended on whether the most effective attack method was deemed to be a slash or a stab. For those favouring the slash, which was often the light cavalry or Hussar units, the weapon was curved in an Hungarian style with a sharp edge. For those favouring the stab the weapon was often heavier with dull edges but a sharp heavy point. Heavy cavalry often favoured this and the sword was held almost like a short lance. This is not surprising as heavy cavalry often wore body armour (a cuirass), which would be largely proof against a slashing weapon. The advantage of the slashing attack was that the swordsman could attack and defend more easily whereas a stab / thrust if missed left the swordsman open to a counterattack.
French heavy and medium cavalry (Cuirassiers and dragoons) were equipped with a thrusting weapon with a heavy brass hilt whose weight helped bring the blade up, whereas the French light cavalry were armed Hungarian style with a slashing weapon. The German style Pallasch was a heavy sword with a straight blade suitable for cutting and was favoured by many nations’ heavy cavalry. Early British versions of the weapon had a hatch like blade end making it impossible to thrust with, so many units ground the weapon into a point at the end to add versatility. Compared to the French thrusting weapon it was heavy and clumsy a ‘chopper like’ weapon especially when fatal blows in combat normally came from a thrust although the Pallasch did inflict horrendous damage in combat. With typical slowness the British army did not adopt a thrusting sword for cavalry until 1908 just before the end of cavalry’s useful life on the battlefield.
As mentioned, light cavalry sabres were curved in an Eastern European/ Hungarian style due to the long tradition of light cavalry coming from those areas. Once again although the French weapon was also capable of thrusting the British swords had such a heavy blade only a cut was useable to which one critic said they were only useful for chopping firewood. Cavalry drill involved set moves with a stiff elbow and flexible wrist but in reality cavalry combat was often a confused melee of individual combats also adding to the Cavalry’s dashing and knightly image but doing little to improve battlefield effectiveness.
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The History of the Sabre… Not Just for Cavalrymen
The sabre was the traditional cavalryman’s weapon for most of the gunpowder era, and was carried into action long after it had become all but useless in the face of repeating firearms. Yet despite this long association with the cavalry, sabres are also worn as dress swords by infantry officers today. That could be ascribed to military fashion, but in fact, the sabre was carried and used in action by infantry officers.
It is surprisingly hard to define exactly what a sabre is. Some are straight, some curved some are designed primarily for thrusting and others for cutting. That said, the image that comes most readily to mind when the sabre is mentioned is a single-edged, curved sword designed mainly for cutting. The curved shape serves two purposes it concentrates the force of a blow at the ‘point of percussion’ and it ensures that the blade will slide along the target’s flesh and slice – sabres are slashing weapons, not chopping implements.
The sabre came into Europe from the East. Weapons like the Russian shashka and the Polish karabela are very similar weapons, as are the Indian talwar and Middle Eastern scimitar. Some or all of these weapons may have influenced the development of sabres in Eastern Europe, and the effectiveness of East European cavalry caused nations such as France to take notice. From around 1688, Western European nations began to field flamboyantly dressed light cavalry modelled on the Hungarian hussars, and armed them with similar weapons.Sabre of a French infantry officer, circa 1800-1815. By Rama – CC BY-SA 2.0 fr
Meanwhile, the typical infantry officer of the era was armed with a sword more suitable for duelling than the battlefield. Most officers’ sidearms were smallswords of one sort or another, and whilst lethal in a one-on-one situation these weapons were not really up to the rigours of the battlefield. They were, however, entirely adequate for pointing out what the regiment should shoot at or making a heroic gesture, and were worn mainly as a badge of rank.
Sergeant Charles Ewart of the Scots
From around 1801, the British army began raising its own light infantry regiments rather than using foreign troops in this role, and this created a new situation for light infantry officer. Whereas a line officer was well protected by his unit under most circumstances, if light infantry were operating dispersed an officer might be attacked by a variety of opponents.
Facing his opposite number in some foreign force – likely armed with a similar sword – the light infantry officer was at no real disadvantage. The situation was a bit different when an enemy infantryman tried to bayonet him or a cavalryman came riding by swinging a large piece of steel at his head. His existing sword, however lethal, was not really up to the task of defending him against these threats.
The British army made an attempt to remedy this situation with the issue of the 1796 Pattern Infantry Sword. A light cut-and-thrust weapon, this was in theory a bit more robust than a smallsword whilst still light enough to fence with. In practice, it was not well regarded due to its poor cutting performance and rather inadequate defensive capabilities. Notably, the handguard offered little protection and the blade was considered liable to break. Against a cavalry sabre or a heavy blow from some other implement a certain weight of metal was considered desirable to provide an adequate defence and the 1796 pattern sword simply did not have what it takes.
In the same year as this less than stellar weapon made its appearance in the infantry regiments, the cavalry received new weapons as well. The light cavalry got lucky they were issued the 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre – a weapon so effective that some French regiments complained that it was unfair! The heavy cavalry were less well off they received a long, straight sword designed for powerful chopping strokes. This 1796 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Sabre has been described as ‘going downwards quite well’ and as behaving rather like a crowbar.
Pattern 1796 Heavy Cavalry Trooper’s Sword.
The officers of British light infantry regiments collectively decided the best solution to their problem was to privately purchase light cavalry sabres and leave their ‘official’ swords in camp. This was a reasonable solution, but not ideal. The light cavalry sabre was not in any way ‘light’ as a weapon it was the sabre used by the light cavalry and had all the characteristics of a cavalry sword. Those did not always translate to great effectiveness on foot.
The 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre, like many of its kind, was optimised for horseback combat. A cavalryman tended to make one stroke or one parry and then be past his opponent, and even in a melee it was rare for an exchange to resemble a fencing match. Persuading a horse to stay in the right place to exchange sword strokes with an enemy cavalryman was a challenge, and both had to succeed for the fight to go beyond a cut or two. Indeed, John le Marchant, who developed the 1796 pattern sabre, considered that good swords were less important than high-quality horses and skill at handling them.
Thus cavalry swords tended to be long and heavy, to extend reach and to wring the maximum effect out of the few opportunities to strike. That was fine for a cavalryman, whose targets were fleeting. If he missed a stroke or was parried his enemy might well be out of reach before any counter could be made. But the light infantry officer had to face his opponent until one of them was disabled or the changing situation moved them apart.
It was clear that the light infantry officer needed a lighter and perhaps shorter sabre one that could be recovered quickly after a stroke or which could exploit a sudden opening. The British Army responded by developing the 1803 Pattern Light Infantry Sabre. Although less potent than the much heavier cavalry sabre, this weapon was weighty enough to stop a heavy cut and capable of delivering a debilitating blow of its own. It was also light enough to stay under control through several cuts and parries.
The briquet, typical infantry sabre of the Napoleonic Wars. By Rama – CC BY-SA 2.0 fr
The 1803 sabre was not a duelling weapon, and was still very much a battlefield sword rather than one designed for elegant fencing. It proved highly effective and was well regarded not only as a combat weapon but also as the symbol of the fighting officer. Light infantry officers and commanders of flank companies in line regiments carried these weapons and sometimes engaged the enemy directly. This created a mystique that naturally spread throughout the army.
Soon, staff officers who never went near the enemy were parading around Horse Guards with their fighting-officer’s sabres. Generals who had no business going near a fight adopted them. Highly decorated examples were created, along with variants on the design that may or may not have been more effective in combat. The sabre had become the symbol of the courageous British officer who actually fought his enemies – though it might be argued that it was his job to lead, not to fight.
The 1803 sabre was an excellent weapon, and established both the sound concept of a sabre as a combat officer’s sidearm and its place as what amounted to a fashion accessory. Sabres were just that bit more dashing than the smallswords of officers who stayed within the human rampart of their regiment. Thus when the time came to develop a new infantry officer’s sword, the sabre was an obvious choice – though whether for fashion or combat-effectiveness reasons is an open question.
Straight sabre of the cavalry of Berne, early 19th century. By Rama – CC BY-SA 2.0 fr
Unfortunately new sword, developed in 1921 and adopted a year later, was not in the same league as its predecessor. Its blade was only slightly curved, which in theory improved thrusting performance. In practice all it did was weaken the weapon’s main mode of attack – the cut – without creating any corresponding improvement elsewhere. The hinged half-basket hilt, which was supposed to give better hand protection, had a tendency to collapse when struck.
In 1845 the British army tried again, this time with a fixed guard and a much better blade. Like the preceding 1821 model, the 1845 sabre was expensive, so some officers took their time about buying the new model. This meant that a mix of infantry sabres were in use in the British Army during the Crimean War, conflicts in India and the colonial wars of the late 19 th century.
The argument about whether the cut or thrust is more suitable for battlefield combat has been raging since a few minutes after swords were invented, and has never been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. What is known is that a weapon needs to be geared mainly towards one or the other. Those that try to be all things to all men usually just get their users killed. Thus as preferences shifted from the cut to the thrust, a new design of sabre was adopted by the British army. This was the 1897 pattern infantry officer’s sword, which was followed into service by the 1908 pattern sabre for cavalry. US cavalry regiments received the Model 1913 ‘Patton’ sabre (designed by George Patton, hence its name) soon afterward.
By this time the sabre was of course completely obsolete as a weapon, but it is retained to this day as a ceremonial and dress weapon. It is a symbol of a time when infantry officers might be required to engage their enemies in hand-to-hand combat, and wearing one with dress uniform is a reminder of a long tradition of going in harm’s way to get the job done.
By Martin J Dougherty, President of the British Federation for Historical Swordplay
Author of Cut & Thrust: European Sword and Swordsmanship.
Main keywords of the article below: sabre, vary, officer, british, used, marchant, experience, sabres, worked, model, troopers, officers, based, army, cavalry, 1788, light, versions, improve, john, little, napoleonic, part, pattern, 1796, era, design, designed, famous, previous, born, hungarians, alike, sword, 1766, austrians, le.
Pattern 1796 light cavalry sabre The most famous British sabre of the Napoleonic era is the 1796 light cavalry model, used by troopers and officers alike (officers versions can vary a little, but are much the same as the pattern troopers sword) It was in part designed by the famous John Le Marchant (British Army officer, born 1766), who worked to improve on the previous (1788) design based on his experience with the Austrians and Hungarians.  Sabres were commonly used by the British in the Napoleonic era for light cavalry and infantry officers, as well as others. 
The popularity of sabres had spread rapidly through Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, and finally came to dominance as a military weapon in the British army in the 18th century, though straight blades remained in use by some, such as heavy cavalry units. (These were also replaced by sabres soon after the Napoleonic era).  This rare Dutch sabre from the Napoleonic era has an iron bracket hilt and leather grip. 
Compared to the heavy, clunky and limited swords of the Napoleonic Era, the Patton saber handles smoothly and easily putting an end to the cut vs the thrust debate by incorporating both. 
I would like to stress that sabers were made by hand in the Napoleonic era so no two sabers are exactly the same. 
Light cavalry played a key role in mounted scouting, escorting and skirmishing during the Napoleonic era, Light horse also served a function in major set-piece battles.  Napoleonic period - The Napoleonic era is a period in the history of France and Europe. 
The sabre ( British English ) or saber ( American English ) is a type of backsword with a curved blade associated with the light cavalry of the early modern and Napoleonic periods.  It is in fact the present pattern (F1) of French Light Cavalry sabre, which is a copy of an AN XI pattern Napoleonic sabre given to General De Gaulle in 1942.  We placed this model of sword in our Napoleonic swords because it is often passed off as an original Hussar officer's AN XI sabre at auctions.  The sabre saw extensive military use in the early 19th century, particularly in the Napoleonic Wars, during which Napoleon used heavy cavalry charges to great effect against his enemies.  The briquet, typical infantry sabre of the Napoleonic Wars.  In addition to sabres, Napoleonic horsemen could arm themselves with firepower from carbines and pistols, while some units had older, but just as deadly, lances. 
Sabres were commonly used throughout this era by all armies, in much the same way that the British did.  The sabre was the traditional cavalryman’s weapon for most of the gunpowder era, and was carried into action long after it had become all but useless in the face of repeating firearms. 
Our timeline shows nine key years from the revolutionary era of the Napoleonic Wars, and the fascinating stories behind them.  Sabres & Witchery is a role-playing game nominally set in Europe (although it could be elsewhere) at the end of the English Civil War through to approximately the Napoleonic Wars era.  The war started with tactics similar in many ways to the Napoleonic era such as cavalry charges and full front infantry assaults.  Even during the Napoleonic era, Le Marchant’s weapons were often derided as "butcher’s blades" by those "forced" to use them, as incapable of being used "scientifically".  In the Napoleonic era the main weapon of any army was the musket, as it provides perfect balance between melee and ranged combat.  Once the carnage of the Napoleonic era ceased, fencing theorists more and more influenced the design of cavalry sidearms.  Despite the improvements in weaponry, the generals and leaders on all sides fought the war as if nothing had really changed since the Napoleonic era.  The increasing use of magazine-fed rifles increased their efficiency even more and led to greater rates of slaughter amongst the attacking forces if they advanced across open ground in the traditional 'line and column' formations of the Napoleonic era. 
Its obviously pre 1822, as it looks like a private purchase sword (and spendy to boot with that blade) but the hilt doesnt have the swelling lower portion of the knuckle guard that most Napoleonic sabres have.  There were dozens of types of sabres used by cavalry during the Napoleonic Wars.  I know that British cavalry usually sharpened their sabres in the days after the ACW, and I think it was the practice in British units in the Napoleonic Wars.  The main weapon of Cavalry throughout the Napoleonic war was the Sabre.  There were dozens of sabre types used throughout the Napoleonic Wars. 
In Europe, with it's long tradition of sabres drawn cavalry charges on relatively open battlefields, (Napoleonic Era) dragoons were treated and trained as cavalry who occasionally dismounted.  Aimed at the volunteer regiments of the Napoleonic Era, when engagements with swords were still a reality of warfare, The Art of Defence on Foot was explicitly written for civilians wanting to learn to fence with the saber, broad-sword or spadroon.  A dashing hussar, elegantly dressed and sporting a curved saber, came to represent the romantic élan of the Napoleonic Era.  Light cavalry in the Napoleonic era were tasked with skirmishing, scouting, foraging and raiding.  On the weaponry side much of the equipment still belongs to the Napoleonic Era with a plethora of muzzle loading, smoothbore artillery. 
The 1796 light cavalry sabre was the creation of the British officer John Gaspard Le Marchant and was to be the standard weapon of British light cavalry for much of the Napoleonic wars. 
Although there was extensive debate over the effectiveness of weapons such as the sabre and lance, the sabre remained the standard weapon of cavalry for mounted action in most armies until World War I.  Although less potent than the much heavier cavalry sabre, this weapon was weighty enough to stop a heavy cut and capable of delivering a debilitating blow of its own.  The curved shape serves two purposes it concentrates the force of a blow at the "point of percussion’ and it ensures that the blade will slide along the target’s flesh and slice - sabres are slashing weapons, not chopping implements.  Although some genuine Turkish kilij sabres were used by Westerners, most "mameluke sabres" were manufactured in Europe although their hilts were very similar in form to the Ottoman prototype, their blades, even when an expanded yelman was incorporated, tended to be longer, narrower and less curved than those of the true kilij.  Though single-edged cutting swords existed in Ancient and early Medieval Europe, such as the Greek makhaira and the Germanic seax, the direct predecessor of the sabre appears in the context of the Eurasian steppes in the medieval period, connected to the Magyars and the Turkic expansion.  That said, the image that comes most readily to mind when the sabre is mentioned is a single-edged, curved sword designed mainly for cutting.  When the time came to develop a new infantry officer’s sword, the sabre was an obvious choice - though whether for fashion or combat-effectiveness reasons is an open question.  John le Marchant, who developed the 1796 pattern sabre, considered that good swords were less important than high-quality horses and skill at handling them.  Straight sabre of the cavalry of Berne, early 19th century.  The last sabre issued to U.S. cavalry was the Patton saber of 1913.  U.S. cavalry regiments received the Model 1913 "Patton’ sabre (designed by George Patton, hence its name) soon afterward.  Szabla wz. 34 was the last sabre issued to the Polish cavalry, in 1934.  The British Army responded by developing the 1803 Pattern Light Infantry Sabre.  In 1799, the army accepted this under regulation for some units, and in 1803, produced a dedicated pattern of sabre for certain infantry officers (flank, rifle and staff officers).  That could be ascribed to military fashion, but in fact, the sabre was carried and used in action by infantry officers.  During the 19th and into the early 20th century, sabres were also used by both mounted and dismounted personnel in some European police forces.  The introduction of the sabre proper in Western Europe, along with the term sabre itself, dates to the 17th century, via the influence of the Eastern European szabla type ultimately derived from these medieval backswords.  Lighter sabres also became popular with infantry of the late 17th century.  The sabre had become the symbol of the courageous British officer who actually fought his enemies - though it might be argued that it was his job to lead, not to fight.  Soon, staff officers who never went near the enemy were parading around Horse Guards with their fighting-officer’s sabres.  Because of its popularity as an elegant and effective weapon, this sabre became adopted by others in Napoleon's Imperial Guard.  By this time the sabre was of course completely obsolete as a weapon, but it is retained to this day as a ceremonial and dress weapon.  With time, the design of the sabre greatly evolved in the commonwealth and gave birth to a variety of sabre-like weapons, intended for many tasks.  The 1803 sabre was an excellent weapon, and established both the sound concept of a sabre as a combat officer’s sidearm and its place as what amounted to a fashion accessory.  Imperial Guard Light Cavalry Trooper's Sabre T his sabre was first issued in 1803 to Napoleon's "enfants cheris" (cherished children): the famous Chasseur a Cheval de la Garde.  The 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre, like many of its kind, was optimised for horseback combat.  This 1796 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Sabre has been described as "going downwards quite well’ and as behaving rather like a crowbar. 
Sabres were just that bit more dashing than the smallswords of officers who stayed within the human rampart of their regiment.  Like the preceding 1821 model, the 1845 sabre was expensive, so some officers took their time about buying the new model.  One distinctive ceremonial function a sabre serves in modern times is the Saber arch, performed for servicemen or women getting married.  It was clear that the light infantry officer needed a lighter and perhaps shorter sabre one that could be recovered quickly after a stroke or which could exploit a sudden opening.  These oldest sabres had a slight curve, short, down-turned quillons, the grip facing the opposite direction to the blade and a sharp point with the top third of the reverse edge sharpened.  With its brass "D" shaped hilt, 33 1/2 inch blade, and beautifully constructed leather, wood and brass scabbard, this is truly a beautiful sabre and worthy of its popularity.  When the sabre was used by mounted police against crowds, the results could be devastating, as portrayed in a key scene in Doctor Zhivago.  The spadroon was universally unpopular, and many officers began to unofficially purchase and carry sabres once more.  In addition some Hussar Regiments carried a very similar sabre but with minor variations in the scabbard.  English sabre is recorded from the 1670s, as a direct loan from French, where the sabre is an alteration of sable, which was in turn loaned from German Säbel, Sabel in the 1630s.  Marek Stachowski, "The Origin of the European Word for Sabre", Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia 9 (2004), p. 135, citing V. Rybatzki, Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia 7 (2002), p. 115), Menges, Ural-altaische Jahrbücher.  For most of the troops this meant either facing their enemy's musket and rifle fire at about 150 yards, being fired on by artillery firing cannonballs and canister ammunition, or fighting with sabres, lances and bayonets.  As preferences shifted from the cut to the thrust, a new design of sabre was adopted by the British army. 
Light infantry The light infantry variously known in different armies by different names where first introduced into the regular armies during the wars of the 18th century as irregular troops, but became permanent parts of regular Napoleonic armies either as units in their own right, or as companies in the line infantry battalions.  Swords in this category tend to be military issue and include infantry and cavalry swords, naval cutlasses and swords of the Napoleonic wars as well as American swords of the Revolutionary and Civil wars.  Military forces during the Napoleonic Wars consisted largely of the three principal combat arms, and several combat support services, and included the infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers, and logistics troops which were called the army train during the period.  By the time of the Napoleonic Wars a detachment of sappers was usually serving with infantry and cavalry regiments to help with demolition of gates and fences to allow easier movement by these units.  The infantry Arm during the Napoleonic Wars had stopped using the grenades of the previous century, and was largely divided into the infantry of the line which fought in close order formation, and light infantry which fought as skirmishers in open order. 
My personal collection presents a large selection of french and british sabers or swords from the Napoleonic period.  Napoleonic AN XII Dragoon Sword Introduced in 1805, this sword replaced the less attractive AN IV Dragoon sword with its flat hilt design. 
Combat Arms of the Napoleonic Armies were those troops that did most of the killing and dying on the battlefields of the wars.  Forming the bulk of the Napoleonic armies it was the primary offensive and defensive Arm available to the commanders during the period.  Although arguably the best known of the troops that did not serve as permanent parts of the Napoleonic armies were the Cossacks, almost all major armies of the period employed these, with the Spanish guerrilleros later giving their name to a new form of guerrilla warfare. 
The types of military forces in the Napoleonic Wars represented the unique tactical use of distinct military units, or their origin within different European regions.  Artillery of the Napoleonic Wars continued to use the cannon and howitzers of the previous century.  Horse artillery Artillery in which the crews rode rather than walked with their pieces became known as horse artillery, and was also an innovation of the previous century, but became more widespread during the Napoleonic Wars. 
The most effective killer of men on the Napoleonic battlefield was artillery and it came in a variety of forms.  This is the requisite for the French Napoleonic enthusiast. 
Grenadiers The grenadier units had, by the time of the Napoleonic Wars, ceased using the hand-thrown grenades, and were largely known for being composed of physically big men, frequently relied upon for shock actions.  His father was a general as Marbot himself would be after the Napoleonic Wars. 
The typical infantry officer of the era was armed with a sword more suitable for duelling than the battlefield.  They were also popular with the the British officers of the era.  I will describe in this article some models that are from roughly the same era as the saber that I described in my previous article. 
While designed as a cavalry weapon, it also came to replace various types of straight-bladed swords used by infantry, the Swiss sabre originated as a regular sword with a single-edged blade in the early 16th century, but by the 17th century began to exhibit specialized hilt types.  Though the sabre had already become very popular in Britain, experience in Egypt did lead to a fashion trend for mameluke sword style blades, a type of Middle Eastern scimitar, by some infantry and cavalry officers, these blades differ from the more typical British ones in that they have more extreme curve, and are usually not fullered, and taper to a finer point.  The popularity of the sabre had rapidly increased in Britain throughout the 18th century for both infantry and cavalry use, this influence was predominately from southern and eastern Europe, with the Hungarians and Austrians listed as sources of influence for the sword and style of swordsmanship in British sources.  Shorter versions of the sabre were also used as sidearms by dismounted units, although these were gradually replaced by fascine knives and sword bayonets as the century went on, although there was extensive debate over the effectiveness of weapons such as the sabre and lance, the sabre remained the standard weapon of cavalry for mounted action in most armies until World War I.  In the hands of a consummate swordsman like Ewart, or Corporal John Shaw of the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards, the sword was a formidable weapon which more than challenged the French cavalry sabres length advantage.  Le Marchant also developed the first official British military sword exercise manual based on this experience, and his light cavalry sabre, and style of swordsmanship went on to heavily influence the training of the infantry and the navy, the 1796 light cavalry sword was known for its brutal cutting power, easily severing limbs, and leading to the (unsubstantiated) myth that the French put in an official complaint to the British about its ferocity.  The introduction of 'pattern' swords in the British army in 1788 led to a brief departure from the sabre in infantry use (though not for light cavalry), in favour of the lighter and straight bladed spadroon, the spadroon was universally unpopular, and many officers began to unofficially purchase and carry sabres once more.  Officers of the U.S. Marine Corps still use a mameluke-pattern dress sword, although some genuine Turkish kilij sabres were used by Westerners, most "mameluke sabres" were manufactured in Europe although their hilts were very similar in form to the Ottoman prototype, their blades, even when an expanded yelman was incorporated, tended to be longer, narrower and less curved than those of the true kilij.  In the late 16th century, Dusägge could refer to a type of weapon combining a sabre blade with the hilt of a sidesword, the Dusägge in this sense was used as a military sidearm, e. g.  Used throughout the ages, in the 18th century it evolved into a standard karabela, the hussar sabre was perhaps the best-known type of szabla of its times and became a precursor to many other such European weapons.  The introduction of the sabre proper in Western Europe, along with the term sabre itself, dates to the 17th century, via the influence of the Eastern European szabla type ultimately derived from these medieval backswords, the adoption of the term is connected to the employment of Hungarian ( huszár ) cavalry by Western armies at the time. 
Greek art along with Xenophons further commentary suggests that the sword he intended for the cavalry was wider than the modern sabre, more akin to the falchion or even machete.  Talwar - The talwar, also spelled talwaar and tulwar, is a type of curved sword or sabre from the Indian Subcontinent, and is found in the modern countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.  This type of sword continues in use into the 16th century, though it is now debated that it is an actual influence of the Turko-Mongol type sabres.  It was hence called the Armenian sabre, possibly after Armenian merchants, in fact the Armenian sabre developed into three almost completely distinct types of swords, each used for a different purpose.  It is a type of sabre with a curve that is considered radical for a sword,5 to 15 degrees from tip to tip, the name is derived from Persian, شمشیر shamshīr, which means sword.  Classifications of swords Types of swords List of swords Basket-hilted swords Cutlass Machete Golok Parang Sabre Szabla Dwellys Illustrated Gaelic to English Dictionary, glasgow, Gairm Publications,1988, p.202 Culloden, the swords and the sorrows.  Pistol grips are incompatible with the sabre, the entire weapon is generally 105 cm long, the maximum weight is 500g, but most competition swords are closer to 400g.  Who was the "genius’ to first sabre a bottle of Champagne? You may have heard it was Napoléon Bonaparte who first put sword to bottle, back in the days following the French Revolution.  Despite its clear cutting power, the 1796 sabre did have some disadvantages against its French cavalry counterpart. 
Lighter sabres also became popular with infantry of the late 17th century in the 19th century, models with less curving blades became common and were also used by heavy cavalry.  The tip of the blade, usually some 15 to 18 centimetres long, was in most cases double-edged, such sabres were extremely durable yet stable, and were used in combat well into the 19th century.  This blade style may have influenced by the Turko-Mongol sabres that had reached the borders of Europe by the 13th century.  The sabre became widespread in Europe following the Thirty Years War and was adopted by infantry.  The Briquet sabre was authorized by the British Government in 1803 for use by infantry officers during the wars against Napoleon.  In 1799, the army accepted this under regulation for some units, and in 1803, produced a dedicated pattern of sabre for certain infantry officers (flank, rifle and staff officers), the 1803 pattern quickly saw much more widespread use than the regulation intended due to its effectiveness in combat, and fashionable appeal.  For the other two weapons, valid touches are only scored using the point of the blade, like the foil, but unlike the épée, sabre uses the convention of right-of-way to determine who acquires the touch.  The sabre differs from the modern fencing weapons, the épée and foil, in that it is possible to score with the edge of the blade, for this reason, sabreur movements.  Sabre (fencing) - The sabre is one of the three weapons of modern fencing, and is alternatively spelled saber in American English.  The sabreuse wears a lamé, a conductive vest, to complete the circuit, sabre was the last weapon in fencing to make the transition over to using electrical equipment.  It is now categorized as an independent development as the 13th century sabres dont have this type of cusp, in addition, there are a group of 13th- and early 14th-century weapons sometimes identified with the falchion.  Sabres, though far less effective at carrying charge impetus, are far easier to train for use as a one-on-one weapon.  The bell guard of the sword is curved around the handle, on electrical sabres, a socket for the body wire is found underneath the bell guard.  A fastener known as a pommel is attached to the end of the sword to keep the bell guard, the handle of a sabre is standardly a straight sabre grip, as other grips are incompatible with the bell guard.  I know that some Cavalerie troops needs sabres because it is easier for them to fight with it (Hussards) but most of the troops that were fighting against Rev. France were carying straight swords.  Kopis Falcata Sword Backsword Xiphos Gordon, D. H. Scimitars, Sabres and Falchions. in Man, Vol 58, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain, a Greek-English Lexicon, 9th edition,1996.  Now, the infantry on the right would be armed with a sabre briquet which was only issued to non-commissioned officers, of which there are only three in the painting, and they are in the foreground of the regiment.  The officers, hoping to catch the eye of the wealthy young widow, unsheathed their sabres, and still astride their horses, lopped the tops off the bottles.  The talwar can be held with the fore finger wrapped around the lower quillon of the cross guard, khanda Mughal weapons Firangi Sabre Pulwar Shamshir Kilij Saif Kukri Bull, Stephen.  Richly decorated sabres were popular among the Polish nobility, who considered it to be one of the most important pieces of men's traditional attire, with time, the design of the sabre greatly evolved in the commonwealth and gave birth to a variety of sabre-like weapons, intended for many tasks.  This occurred in 1988,32 years after foil and 52 years after the épée, unlike the other two weapons, there is very little difference between an electric sabre and a steam or dry one.  Their popularity and efficiency made the Polish nobles abandon the broadswords used in Western Europe, Czeczuga was a curved sabre with a small cross-guard with an ornamented open hilt and a hood offering partial protection to the hand.  In the late 17th century the first notable modification of the sabre appeared, unlike the early Hungarian-Polish type, it featured a protected hilt and resembled the curved sabres of the East.  Scimitar - A scimitar is a backsword or sabre with a curved blade, originating in the Middle East.  All such blades are curved, and the vast majority of talwars have blades more typical of a generalised sabre, many examples of the talwar exhibit an increased curvature in the distal half of the blade, compared to the curvature nearer the hilt.  The solution? A swift stroke of the sabre blade to the neck of the bottle.  The Briquet here is constructed with a carbon steel blade in sabre style.  The blade itself is the same in steam and electric sabres, an electric sabre has a socket, which is generally a 2-prong or bayonet foil socket with the two contacts shorted together.  This is a rare early example of the regulation sabre de Troupe de Carabinier, with the blade handsomely engraved with.  It is shorter than the foil or épée, and lighter than the épée, the sabres blade is sometimes likened to a matchstick insofar as it is easy to snap but relatively cheap to replace.  The sabre was in use in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Early Modern period.  Early electric sabres were equipped with a capteur socket, the capteur was a device that was intended to detect a parry by use of an accelerometer.  The grip of the talwar is cramped and the prominent disc of the pommel presses into the wrist if attempts are made to use it to cut like a conventional sabre.  The longer lance was, in such situations, at a huge disadvantage, compared to the new 1796 sabre which had been copied by almost every European power after being introduced by the British.  When the sabre was used by mounted police against crowds, the results could be devastating, as portrayed in a key scene in Doctor Zhivago, the sabre was later phased out in favour of the baton, or nightstick, for both practical and humanitarian reasons.  Falchions are found in different forms from around the 13th century up to, in some versions the falchion looks rather like the weapon-seax and later the sabre, and in other versions the form is irregular or like a machete with a crossguard.  By the late 1810, the Lance was effectively extinct even in the Imperial Guard where only the first rank carried it the rest were armed with guns & sabres.  The first is what all of the men on the left are wearing, which is a standard arming sabre which would be similar to this when unsheathed.  Something that I recently noticed was that French troops were carying (awesome) sabres.  The electric sabre also has insulation on the pommel and on the inside of the guard to prevent a connection between the sabre and the lamé.  You also have less armour to deal with, and since the sabre is less reliant on momentum, it gives you a bit more maneouverability - not having to line up for a long charge is good when people are shooting at you.  Sabre d'Officier de 1er Regiment de Grenadiers a Pied de la Garde Imperiale. 
Locally recruited Hussar regiments were incorporated in most Napoleonic armies although by this period their functions, uhlans, originally Polish light cavalry armed with lances as their primary weapon.  He proposed a 1796 light cavalry blade that remained popular throughout the Napoleonic wars and furthered the cause of cutting weapons.  Officers had better swords than the common cavalryman and as the Napoleonic Wars drug on quality of the French blades declined as did their ability to find proper mounts.  This was an issue of poor-balance and workmanship in which a sword would rattle to pieces after only a few strokes ( a trend that continued throughout the Napoleonic Wars despite attempts to improve quality).  This Eastern European weapon was the choice of light cavalry in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars and much admired for its ability to be rapidly used upon fleeing troops.  In the aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Prussia had annexed numerous territories and this new power destabilized the European balance of power established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars. 
Its name was a misnomer, as France already had colonies overseas and was short lived compared to the Colonial Empire, a series of wars, known collectively as the Napoleonic Wars, extended French influence over much of Western Europe and into Poland.  Napoleonic Wars - The wars resulted from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and the Revolutionary Wars, which had raged on for years before concluding with the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.  I have been reading a lot about the Napoleonic Wars and the French Empire. 
French Napoleonic Officer's set of Horse Pistol Holsters, c.1812-1815. 
This wasnt even Napoleonic war wisdom the Ahadi troops of the Mughals had originally started as lancers but had to switch to sabers with the growing importance of artillery under Emperor Akbar.  Madame Clicquot’s first renowned vintage was in 1811, toward the end of the Napoleonic Wars.  The Napoleonic Wars created two distinct camps, those who favored cutting and those thrusting. 
While the cutting, Hungarian-style blade was nearly universally accepted in the light cavalry of the late 1700's and early 1800's, the heavy horse of the era were not so uniformed.  Ewart Oakeshott in chapter 4 of his The Sword in the Age of Chivalry classifies medieval cross-guards into twelve types and this is the basic shape found from the late Viking era through the 17th century.  Perhaps they are corruptions of the Persian shamshir, but the OED finds this explanation unsatisfactory, the word shamshir is Persian and refers to a straight-edged sword as well as to a curved-edged sword, depending on the era of usage. 
Early modern warfare - This entire period is contained within the Age of Sail, which characteristic dominated the eras naval tactics, including the use of gunpowder in naval artillery.  These magnificent red leather holsters were in use during the late Empire era a. 
Officers carry swords, riflemen use a shorter blade for self-defense, and cavalrymen slice throats with terrifying sabres.  A British military commission investigated these "superior weapons" and they were embarrassed to learn the native weapons in question were none-other than surplus 1796 Light Cavalry Sabres sold to the Sikhs by the East India Company (the Sikhs would usually re-hilt the swords native style and replace the blade-dulling issue steel scabbards with leather-covered wood ones).  Le Marchant tackled this problem with a two-pronged approach first, he got "Whitehall" (British Army command) to adopt the 1796 Light Cavalry Sabre and the 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword as the respective service sidearms and second, Le Marchant was able to institute a service-wide sword drill which concentrated on cutting and slashing attacks which did not leave the user vulnerable to counter-thrusts.  Le Marchant intended the 1796 Light Cavalry Sabre to be the issue sidearm for both Light and Heavy Cavalry units, but Whitehall’s traditionalists balked. 
I have nothing conclusive to offer, but in general, the nineteenth century saw long and bitter debates about the role of the modern cavalryman, and whether the cavalry sabre was to be regarded as a slashing or a stabbing weapon.  General D. S. Stanley, chief of cavalry of the Army of the Cumberland, ordered his three brigades to sharpen their sabres he was of the opinion that the possession of sharpened sabers increased the confidence of his men.  Tactics was behind the preference, as the French taught their cavalry to thrust with the sabre, which delivered a highly lethal piercing wound while the English opted for the chopping, hacking and slashing with their scimitar-like blades.  The French themselves generally preferred less curved sabres with sharpened points, particularly in the case of their cuirassiers' perfectly straight, long sabre blade.  The Civil War Short Sword is a stainless steel sabre with a C, S, and A etched on the blade.  In his Book of the Sword, Burton spent pages devoted to "scientifically" proving why curved sabres and scimitars were more efficient cutters that strait swords (Scottish "Broadswords" in particular). 
Here's an Officers 1796 L.C. Sabre by Osborn with the pre 1801 coat of arms so debatably could slip into the 18thC, been in the wars a bit but still a formidable weapon.  Britain had two main styles, the 1796 pattern light-cavalry sabre and the straight-bladed 1796 heavy-cavalry sabre, but this did not stop a whole host of various weapons being used at the whim of the men who led their regiments.  This record inspired the Prussians, under General Blucher, to adopt the 1796 Sabre as their light Cavalry sidearm (which was used by some German units until WWI).  I'm looking for sources on sabre fencing, and more cut-focused fencing in general from 1700-1815, I've been reading the section on sabre in Angelo's smallsword book, and I've been working through www.amazon.com/Highland-Broadswo. rdsmanship which has some material on British sabre use around the turn of the 18th century.  Sport fencing, aka "Tag with car antennas" also tamed (gelded) the brutish Saber ( Sabre, British spelling).  The British used their sabres to slash, whereas the French used the weapons' points to skewer and impale the enemy.  The gentleman's way of warfare, swords and sabres always come in handy in the thick mist of cannon and gun smoke.  Essentially, Le Marchant’s sword method had the trooper extend his sabre or sword in engagement, forcing the opponent’s sword point "off line" with a beat or glissade blade-attack and then follow up with a slash or cut against any open targets.  Many Sikhs were adamant the 1796 Sabres were "the finest swords in the world".  I came across some web pages of sword enthusiasts in which the dull sabre question is bandied about.  The short lance carried by light cavalry was a quick and accurate weapon which a rider could handle almost like a sabre.  I know some of Napoleon's cavalry feared and objected to the use by English dragoons of their deeply curved 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre, which delivered devastating slashing cuts.  While heavier to whip around in the cut than the Sabre, Le Marchant counted on the big men on big horses being able to cope with the heftier weapon.  Of the approximately 250,000 wounded treated in union hospitals during the war only 922 were the victims of sabres or bayonets.  He also implemented a standardized "proof test" of blade flexibility and shock resistance to make sure each sabre was truly "battle ready".  Both the sabre and backsword proved themselves in actual combat numerous times, especially in the long Peninsular Campaign.  The time-period of Sabres & Witchery is not specific - it could be any time from the late 1600's to the early 1800's the "Age of Enlightenment" through to the "Industrial Revolution".  This link, which appears to deal with, uh, zombies and sabres, has a pretty detailed general discussion of sabre tactics and the history of the thrust vs. cut controversy. 
The pattern 1796 heavy cavalry sword was the sword used by the British heavy cavalry (Lifeguards, Royal Horse Guards, Dragoon Guards and Dragoons), and King's German Legion Dragoons, through most of the period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.  I will start things off with a few British swords from the Napoleonic period.  This one is an interesting Napoleonic period sword and was a bit puzzling for awhile. but due to assistance from multiple folks at SFI a couple of years back I think I now know more about it. 
Your Bavarian sword looks like the Napoleonic equivalent of a P1908 or any number of late19th/early 20th century thrusting swords. 
While by today's standards, Napoleonic artillery was slow and cumbersome and inaccurate at great distances, it was something that Sharpe had to endure continually on the battlefield.  Artillery was the most effective killer of men on the Napoleonic battlefield. 
I don't know where the practice would have come from in American units, but their officers tended to worship European military practice, particularly those associated with the Napoleonic Wars.  This weapon, which gained in the time of the Napoleonic wars the title of "queen of arms" is still waiting for a special chapter in military history. 
We do know, however, that it came into practice during the Napoleonic Wars, making his soldiers among the first to popularize dramatically knocking the top off a Champagne bottle with a blade (or saber).  Throughout the Napoleonic Wars nearly 3 million of these Brown Bess muskets were manufactured and distributed to Britain's infantry regiments.  The main infantry tactic employed in the Napoleonic Wars was the ' Massed Column ' attack. 
During the Napoleonic Wars the Baker was reported to be effective at long range due to its accuracy and dependability under battlefield conditions. 
In a pre-antibiotic era (especially in a cavalry compound with endemic horse manure), the constant handling of a sharp weapon would have been an invitation for accidental injury and systemic infection.  The saber was held to be a relic weapon, a "butcher’s blade", an archaic survival of an era when strength counted more than skill.  Inexpensive Decorative Sabers and Swords from the U.S. Civil War Era The only phone # working is 888-244-3263.  Short Version U.S. Artillery Sword, Civil War Era Sword replica. 
The queen of the European battlefield during this era was artillery which was responsible for over 50% of all casualties.  The Infantry's main weapon in this era was a hand loaded smooth-bore musket.  While such things might be discussed among battle veterans, the butchery of edged weapon combat was not something often recorded in detail by the few historians of past eras, and certainly not something that passed for common knowledge. 
RANKED SELECTED SOURCES(32 source documents arranged by frequency of occurrence in the above report)
Sabre (Napoleonic) - History
Posted on: 11 . 26 . 13 by R.S. Fleming
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The development of cavalry sabres had a great effect on the uniforms worn by the armies of the 18th and 19th centuries. The stiff headdresses, neck stocks, reinforced epaulettes, and tunics of heavy wool, thick cuffs, fur lining, and extensive rope trim (galloon), were all about protecting a soldier or trooper from the blade, particularly a slash delivered at a gallop. A true solid stroke or a well delivered thrust would almost always be fatal, but at least the uniforms provided some measure of protection from off balance, slight, or weak attacks. This article will concentrate on the sabres of the British cavalry, used by the troopers from the 1780s to the Crimean War (1853–56), as these would have been some of the most common blades Kate Tattersall dealt with on her travels. Another article will deal with infantry swords and the Royal Navy cutlass.
In the 1600s cavalrymen brought their own sabres, accoutrements, and horses to the battlefield. This was an era of cavaliers – affluent gentlemen serving as the majority of mounted soldiers. By the end of the 17th century, squadrons of paid troopers formed who were supplied by their regiment, often a fabulously wealthy commanding officer paying to equip his men. As armies of Europe grew and became more professional, governments allotted greater funds, and with it came standardization. The weapons would fall into the supply chain, and be churned out through government contracts. Early versions were made in small numbers varying in quality and styles, some of which were straight, some curved. As the century wore on, sabres were mass produced for the troopers, who traditionally fit into a heavy or light cavalry category. The “heavies” (Lifeguards, Royal Horse Guards, Dragoon Guards and Dragoons, and King’s German Legion Dragoons) were all about the pounding, thunderous, overwhelming charge. A long straight robust thrusting weapon suited their purposes. The “lights” (Light Dragoons and Hussars, and King’s German Legion light cavalry) were skirmishers, fast for harassing the enemy, and vicious in a pitched close quarters melee. A lighter curved blade met their requirements. All styles of cavalry sabres were meant to be held firmly in the hand and wielded with determined strength. In 1788 the British Board of General-Officers decided set patterns for heavy and light cavalry would be wise, although wide deviations in this first attempt at standardization resulted. Note: There were hundreds of sabre variations made by different countries, copying each other, making slight changes, so the features I point out about certain weapons in this article would apply to a similar French model, or Spanish, Prussian, &c.
1788 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Troopers Sword.
The 1788 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Sword (1788P HC) remained true to earlier styles, and could be described as an all around backsword, except it was much longer than the infantry carried. The very long blade was usually about 37 inches (940 mm), but examples exist of up to 39.5 inches (995 mm). The blades were large, shallowly fullered,¹ straight, with a spear point, and heavy. The bars of the guard wrapped the hand for protection, again similar to the infantry backswords. The grip of the 1788P HC was multi-barrelled steel (perhaps as a counter-weight for the ponderous blade), wrapped in leather, and bound with copper twisted wire. Scabbards were produced in steel, wrought iron, and leather with metal fittings. A nub near the mouthpiece of the scabbard facilitated the use of a shoulder belt and frog, yet again similar to the infantry. A frog in military parlance is a short round sheath of heavy material (leather, canvas, &c) that the scabbard of a long weapon secures into. The scabbard is fashioned with a protruding nub that fits into a corresponding hole on the frog, keeping it from rotating or shifting up and down.
1788 Pattern Light Cavalry Troopers Sabre
The 1788 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre (1788 LC) may have been created as a copy of European models, and is an example of an early “slashing” British weapon. Blade lengths were from 32 to 35.5 inches (810 to 900 mm) with pronounced curves, fullered, and tapered to spear points. The single bar “D” shaped knucklebow was about as plain as could be, the grip of ridged common wood like pine and beech, and covered with thin black leather applied with glue. The 1788P LC was carried in an iron scabbard with wooden liners, and hung from a waist sword-belt by leather straps (known as sword slings) attached to a pair of suspension rings, a style which would grow in popularity from the late 1700s through to the Edwardian era. Scabbards of leather with metal fittings were produced for officers who opted for such styles.
In June 1793, British Major John Gaspard Le Marchant² (1766–1812) attended the cavalry trails amongst fellow European armies, as part of the Low Countries Campaign (1793–95). Le Marchant was an intellectual professional soldier, and considered one of the finest cavalry commanders of his generation. He was horrified at the superiority of other countries’ cavalry over the British, in particular the Austrian, who in turn had adopted and improved upon the Hungarian fast and light approach the Hussars. Le Marchant studied the methods and weapons of other nations and returned to England with a desire to greatly improve the training and equipment of the British cavalry.
1796 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Troopers Sabre (hatchet point)
Le Marchant copied the Austrian Model 1775 Pallasche as the new British 1796 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Sabre (1796P HC), after failing to convince the “heavies” to adopt a curved blade. It was mass produced and saw service throughout some of the French Revolutionary and all the Napoleonic Wars. The grip was ridged wood wrapped in leather. It originally had a hatchet point, but then often modified by its users into a more common symmetrical spear point, providing a greater ability to thrust. There are large numbers of spear-pointed examples that exist with 33 inch (840 mm) blades, which may be conversions of the original standard 35 inch (890 mm) blade, although many appear to have been manufactured to this shorter length. The sword was carried in an iron scabbard with wooden liners, and hung from a waist sword-belt by leather straps attached to a pair of suspension rings.
1796 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Troopers Sabre (spear point)
The 1796P HC was basically a cutting weapon with a broad ponderous blade and not meant for delicate swordsmanship. Those who appreciated the weapon knew this, and most cavalry troopers used the blades like bludgeons and the guards as knuckle-dusters, the scabbards as cudgels in dire circumstances. A famous description of the brutal power of the weapon was made by Sgt. Charles Ewart, 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys) about how he captured an Imperial Eagle at Waterloo: “It was in the charge I took the eagle off the enemy he and I had a hard contest for it he made a thrust at my groin I parried it off and cut him down through the head. After this a lancer came at me I threw the lance off my right side, and cut him through the chin upwards through the teeth. Next, a foot soldier fired at me, then charged me with his bayonet, which I also had the good luck to parry, and I cut him down through the head thus ended the contest.”
1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Troopers Sabre
The 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre (1796P LC) came into use during the French Revolution and saw continuous use well into the late 1800’s. It was adopted by Portuguese and Spanish cavalry, who were of course Britain’s allies against the French during the Peninsula Campaign (1807–1814). Designed by Le Marchant, based on the Austrian Hussar weapon, which in turn had been adopted from the Polish-Hungarian szable that had already existed for about 150 years. It had a dramatic curve, with the blade widening at the point, providing weight, making it ideal for hack and slash attacks. It had been observed that a thrust attack lost effectiveness after a charge, and in the inevitable confusion of a melee cavalrymen instinctively began hacking and slashing. The blade was from 32.5 to 33 inches (825 to 840 mm) in length and was lighter and easier to use than the heavy cavalry model. The guard was of the simple ‘stirrup’ form with a single iron knucklebow and quillon to save on weight and provide a sabre usable by all cavalrymen, not just large strong men. The grip was of ridged wood covered in leather. It was carried in an iron scabbard, with wooden liners, and hung from a waist sword-belt with straps to a pair of suspension rings. (The Prussian model 1811 “Blucher” light cavalry sabre was almost identical, drawing from the same Polish-Hungarian design features, but crafted a little more sturdy.) There was an officers special version of the 1796P LC crafted in 1807 which featured etched, blued, and gilt blades, and decorative langets.³
The British light cavalry swordsmanship training instituted by Le Marchant concentrated on cuts at the face or arms. This resulted in maimed and disabled troopers, many suffering with infection, while the French taught the thrust, which more likely resulted in a quick kill. It was considered bad form to terribly wound a man, and more merciful to deliver a deep fatal stab. However, a slash from the 1796P LC sabre was easily capable of killing outright, as observed by George Farmer, 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons, after witnessing a skirmish on the Guadiana River, during the Peninsular War: “Just then a French officer stooping over the body of one of his countrymen, who dropped the instant on his horse’s neck, delivered a thrust at poor Harry Wilson’s body and delivered it effectually. I firmly believe that Wilson died on the instant yet, though he felt the sword in its progress, he, with characteristic self-command, kept his eye on the enemy in his front and, raising himself in his stirrups, let fall upon the Frenchman’s head such a blow, that brass and skull parted before it, and the man’s head was cloven asunder to the chin. It was the most tremendous blow I ever beheld struck and both he who gave, and his opponent who received it, dropped dead together. The brass helmet was afterwards examined by order of a French officer, who, as well as myself, was astonished at the exploit and the cut was found to be as clean as if the sword had gone through a turnip, not so much as a dint being left on either side of it.”
1821 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Troopers Sabre.
1821 Pattern Light Cavalry Troopers Sabre
The 1821 Heavy and Light Cavalry Troopers Sabres replaced the 1796 models over the course of a few years. A time of relative peace, there wasn’t the urgency or funds of war. Some Hussar units retained the old dramatically curved 1796P LC longer, and still carried it during the Crimean War. The 1821P HC had a very long 35.6 inch (905 mm) blade, while the light model came in at about 31.25 inches (795 mm), both with fullered blades coming to a spear point. The heavy pattern featured a symmetrical steel bowl guard, while the light pattern had a somewhat asymmetrical but balanced three bar guard for improved protection over the single stirrup style. The grip of both patterns were crafted of ridged wood covered in leather and wrapped with twisted steel wire. It was carried in an iron scabbard, with wooden liners, and hung from a waist sword-belt with straps to a single or pair of suspension rings.
1853 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sabre
Just prior to the Crimean War, the 1853 Patten Sabre was introduced, and intended for both light and heavy cavalry. Metallurgy had improved, providing stronger lighter blades, and Horse Guards felt the 1853P would be ideal for any cavalryman. It was long, 35.5 inches (900 mm), fullered, with a spear point providing excellent reach for a thrust attack, and somewhat curved for the hack and slash of melees, but men complained it wasn’t particularly good for either. The heavy scabbard could be used as a cudgel or shield, and it hung from a waist sword-belt with straps to a pair of suspension rings. The grip was leather, riveted to the blade tang,∗ and a bit smaller around than the men were accustomed to wielding, leading to some complaints that the weapon twisted in their palms. It featured a dramatically swooped three bar guard that improved protection, but limited use to the right hand. Other than the 1788P HC, the regulation troopers weapons had all been designed for ambidextrous use, allowing a combatant to switch hands if wounded, or as muscles tired.† Why Horse Guards decided to move away from this practical approach is unknown. It may have been the standardizing of swordsmanship as per Army regulations which specified everything be done right-handed. Often the hard learned practicalities of the battlefield are forgotten during times of relative peace, and it wasn’t until after the lessons of the Crimean War that all guards returned to a symmetrical design. The 1853P was the last pattern to have a three bar guard, the ensuing models designed with a cheaper lighter bowl or pierced sheet guard (again, because of advances in metallurgy). It was carried by about half of the troopers who participated in the famous Charge of the Light Brigade, and it continued to be used by some regiments into the 1870’s, but the guards were changed to bowls in 1864. Large volumes were sold to both the Union and Confederate states during the American Civil War (1861–65) and were popular, seeing extensive service.
Battle of Balaclava, 25 Oct 1854, the Hussar (trumpeter) at centre wields a 1796P LC sabre (his Russian opponent uses a similar Imperial Cossack model), the unhorsed Lancer in the foreground has a broken 1853P sabre dangling from his wrist by the standard white leather swordknot. There were complaints that the 1853P was prone to snapping on heavy impacts. Note the heavily adorned fur-lined pelisses (slinging jackets) on the left shoulders and arms of the Hussars, providing extra protection on their off-sides. This painting by R.C. Woodville is considered accurate, except the men all wore issue gloves or gauntlets, and the officers usually wore private purchase gloves.
About the cavalry officers, they carried different pattern combat sabres akin to those of the trooper versions, but were often lighter in weight and had higher levels of finish and workmanship. The 1821 Pattern Heavy and Light Cavalry Officers Sabres looked similar to the troopers, but were made with pipeback blades, which had very light thin cutting edges and a rod of steel along the back. While nimble, it flexed too easily on the thrust (some times failing to go through heavy wool), and the pipe prevented the cuts from penetrating deeper than the depth of the blade (roughly 1.25 inches, 30 mm). The point lined up with the pipe, at the back of the blade, causing it to jag sideways on contact. The are many examples of officer 1821P sabres with fullered blades (like the troopers pattern) so obviously many pipeback blades were discarded.
1821 Pattern Light Cavalry Officers Sabre (pipeback).
All patterns of officers blades usually had some etching, could be better fullered, have decorative langets, grips improved with shagreen‡, &c. Silvering of the guard and scabbard were done to prevent corrosion in wet and humid conditions. Officers of the heavy cavalry also had pattern dress (ceremonial) swords, worn in garrison and for parades, but the light cavalry officers did not. This probably was a reflection of total equipment costs, as the light cavalry uniforms were altogether much more expensive. However, there were many officers who were extremely wealthy, and they had sabres crafted that were lavishly decorated, with etched blades highlighted by blue and gold gilt, bronze hilts, ivory grips, lion’s head pommels, &c.
If you would like to examine further images of British cavalry sabres please consider visiting Antique Swords, where there is also a vast array of weapons from other eras and nations.
Note: The horse artillery wore variations of the cavalry sabres, and engineer and logistics officers also adopted patterns for their use. Click here to read a similar article about British infantry swords.
¹ Le Marchant produced a manual of instruction in mounted swordsmanship, and aided in the development of the first British military academy and staff college. He served in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Peninsular War, rose to the rank of Major-General, and died at the battle of Salamanca.
² Fullered refers to grooves running along the flats of a sword blade. It saved on weight while maintaining strength.
³ Langets, from French languet, meaning small tongue, they are metal tabs attached to the guard and fit over the sides of the scabbard, providing a neat quiet fit.
∗ Tang is the portion of the blade that is housed within the haft/handle of a cutting weapon.
† There are very rare examples of asymmetrical guards that were modified to make them symmetrical, and some reversed, producing left-handed adaptations.
‡ Shagreen is a word applied to various untanned leather (but dyed any colour) with a granular surface, prepared from sharkskin, horse hide, ray, seal, &c, often used for the grips of weapons. It absorbed sweat and blood while providing better grip.
does any one know how to get napoleonic era sabres or any websites that sells mainly infantry and calvary that isnt living histroy and can be used for hema. i only found the living history verision and was wondering if there are hema versions of those
Castillearmory.com has a trooper Sabre you might be interested in. I love their weapons and the people there are great to work with.
It's a good idea to avoid using a replica of a service sword for your fencing in general. A replica of a service sword has the triple problems of usually not being flexible enough to allow for safe thrusting, being as heavy as a service sword and having the same or worse weight distribution as an antique. This translates as a sword that ends up more dangerous for your partner (hands in particular come to mind) and requires you to use heavier protective equipment. Furthermore, the benefits of training with an antique replica are usually greatly overstated. This is because sabres can and will hit as hard as longswords if you don't make a compromise on what kind of training sword you use and you don't always have the luxury of using heavy gloves like spes or SGs in a lot of cases as they are too bulky to fit in most hilts. A training sword is also not just for you, but also a piece of protective equipment for your partner, they will appreciate you not subjecting them to heavy crowbar sword, trust me :) For this reason, avoid regenyei sabres.
As I see it there are two ways to solve the problem. You can either get a heavy glove like a pro-gauntlets, spes, SGs, etc to use with an open hilt sabre (as red dragons or lacrosse gloves are just dangerous to use in any case. They lead to broken fingers), or you can shift the burden of protection on your sword.
The first road involves getting a sabre with a small hilt, a stirrup guard at most so that you can fit maybe a spes or an SG Mitten glove in there. Blackfender 1796s and 1803s come to mind. This obviously limits your mobility though and requires you to alter your grip on the sabre a lot of the time. At that point your sword may not feel like a sabre in the hand anymore and will hit much harder on your opponent.
This is why I like the second way better. It is to get a sabre with a big guard Like a Hanwei Pecoraro and dropping a duelling sabre blade from castille in there. The big guard on these is much tougher than the stock blade but most importantly its presence allows you to use a light glove like a PBT light with finger tip protector plates if you feel it necessary. This allows you to hold your sword with a sabre grip much easier making your sabre feel a lot more like a sabre in the hand, the lighter blade also means you don't have to worry nearly as much about hurting your training partner. In actuality too, the 200 mm blade from castille isn't that far off from the 23mm trooper blade either.
Despite this approach being maybe less historical (which is debatable considering that practice sabres of similar designs followed and were used not very long after the napoleonic era,) I think that the safety and dexterity using a practice sabre confers is of much greater importance to development as a fencer. You get a lot more out of the confidence and ability to be able to fence safely and fence often rather than you ever could from using a historical hilt.
There are also bowl hilt sabres like the Kvetun Easton but I struggle to see the place they are meant to occupy. The Guard is too small to small to use a light glove and get the advantages from that but also too big to fit a heavy glove that will actually protect you. This means you are forced to use a red dragon or lacrosse glove which are not so much the "best" sabre gloves as much as they are the least shit ones as they are notorious for occurences of broken fingers. Bowl guards stop halfway to a pecoraro style hilt and end up with none of the advantages and all the drawbacks of either of the options laid out above.
To conclude my answer, In your place I would grab the second kind of sabre I have explained first as it will allow you to fence with safety, dexterity enough to execute techniques well and will be more gentle on your partner(s). I would reserve the first kind, closer to a replica of of a service sword as something for later.
A Turkish napoleonic army
You know I am always of the more obscure subjects in history. While we have a lot of figures covering the Napoleonic wars most manufactors oversaw so far the Ottoman Empire.
Here a list of all the war the Ottoman Empire fought in the Napoleonic period:
1787-1792 - War against Austria and Russia
1793-1795 - Tripolitanian civil war
1798-1801 - Against France in Egypt and Syria
1801-1805 - First Barabry war (against the US)
1803 - Souliote war (against Ali Pasha of Janina = Greeks)
1803-1807 - Turks vs Mamelukes
1804-1813 - First Serbian Uprising
1806-1812 - Russo-Turkish war
1807-1809 - Anglo-Turkish war
1811-1818 - Ottoman-Saudi war
1815-1817 - Second Serbian uprising
1816 - Bombadment of Algiers
1821-1823 - Ottoman-Persian war
You see there is a lot of potential, especially in Egypt 1798/99, 1806-12 against the Russians with a lot of battles and mixing up the British in 1807.
So I decided I want to have a complete Ottoman/Turkish army for my collection. I asked my friend Ingo to sculpt me this army and gave him an order for over 60 different figures to make. The first third of this order is already done.
So far just two manufactors I know took on the subject. In the late 60ies Minifigs produces three different figures in their S-Range. While the regular infantry of the early 1800 (the Nizams) are ok, the Arabs and Syrians have just a fancy uniform. See here a photo of this figures which I took from the side of ghe Lone S-Ranger.
If these figures are interesting from you my friend John Cunningham can provide you with them.
The other manufactor who took on the subject is Newline designs
But I am sorry to say Sean that most of the figures are historically not correct. See here some samples. Still very useful figures in the range, but the Jannisarries went into my Turkish army of the 16th century
Also Tom Winterkamp once produced a set of Anatolian Spahis, but sadly I haven't got any of them for my collection. But I heard they were produced.
And here now what I have in mind for an Ottoman army. All in all 11 different sets of figures. Infantry 7-8 poses, cavalry set 2-3 figures.
I show you just the sets the masters are already done in this post.
1. Nizam I Cedit infantry 1806 onwards
And the masters from Ingo
2. Nizam I Cedit in the early uniform of the 1790ies
I lost the photo of the masters, so here just the uniformplates.
The other sets to complete the range will be
Regular infantry (Sekbahns)
Albanians (light infantry)
Anatolian Spahis (foot)
In the end enough for a colorful Napoleonic army and after Wellington in India another of my dreams comming true.
Maybe next a Persian army to fight the Russians from 1804 to 1813? And the Ottomans 10 years later of course:-)
P47 Napoleonic sabre, IX Infantry
This true to original copy was manufactured for theatre use, collection or show purposes. Like the original the sword is 79 cm / 31.1" long (including the sheath).
Blade length: 61 cm / 24".
Weight: 1.4 kg / 3.0 lbs
The steel blade has a blunt edge, 1mm / 0.03" thick.
This model was the prototype for identical Prussian sabres several other countries copied it too - partly from war of liberation booty.
Napoleon was said to have opened a bottle of champagne with his infantry sabre after having won a battle in 1812. This "art" was afterwards celebrated in aristocratic circles as "sabrage".
Today the old tradition finds many new followers.
We offer a shorter version of this sabre as champagne sabrage sabre which is handier (our item No. P47K).
P47S Sabre IX Napoleonic Infantry - no sheath
This listing is for the French sabre only - the sheath is NOT included
This true to original copy was manufactured for theatre use, collection or show purposes.
Blade length: 61 cm / 24".
Weight: 1.4 kg / 3.0 lbs
The steel blade has a blunt edge, 1mm / 0.03" thick.
This model was the prototype for identical Prussian sabres.
Napoleon was said to have opened a bottle of champagne with his infantry sabre after having won a battle in 1812. This "art" was afterwards celebrated in aristocratic circles as "sabrage".
Today the old tradition finds many new followers.
We offer a shorter version of this sabre as champagne sabrage sabre which is handier (our item No. P47K).
British P1796 Light Cavalry Troopers Sabre, Napoleonic Wars Issue
The 1796 Light Cavalry Trooper's sabre is one of the most prized British army swords and finding a genuine item in good condition is difficult.
Many 1796 Light Cavalry trooper swords were made without maker&rsquos marks and sold directly to regiments. This was common practice at the turn of the 18th Century. It was left to the regimental chiefs to decide if and how to mark their swords. This was the case even when the War Department had sourced their swords and at times of conflict, withholding weaponry for marking purposes was hardly a priority.
This superb P1796 Light Cavalry Troopers sabre was made by Wooley, Deakin & Dobbs of Birmingham between 1803 and 1808, placing it firmly within the Peninsular War and later 100 Days War of the Napoleonic Wars which culminated on the 18th June, 1815 with the battle of Waterloo.
While it is not possible to place this sabre at any particular battle. it is almost guaranteed that it saw service during these campaigns.
The 84cm broad, curved blade is in overall excellent condition with only minor age patina.
The blade&rsquos spine is stamped with the letter &ldquoB&rdquo for Birmingham in two places. The rest of the sabre is un-marked. The blade is firm in the hilt.
The wooden, leather covered hilt is showing its age and use with wear to the leather, which is missing in small areas and a chip to the wood where the &ldquoP&rdquo guard meets the pommel.
The steel of the guard and back strap are generally bright but have all over age related tarnish.
The original steel scabbard is marked with the maker&rsquos names, &ldquoWooley, Deakin and Dobbs,&rdquo which allows the sabre to be dated to between 1803 and 1808 as prior to 1803 the company was just Wooley and Deakin and after 1808, Johnson joined the firm and subsequent marks included his name as well as the former three.
The scabbard is heavily pitted all over but is solid and the sabre draws and sheaths well and is held firmly with no rattle or play.
This is a genuine Napoleonic Wars issue Light Cavalry sabre in over-all good condition for its age and service. Finding a sword that saw service during the Napoleonic Wars is increasingly hard.