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Thread: A Napoleonic officer's sword with a known original officer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    A Napoleonic officer's sword with a known original officer

    Dear All,

    I have attached some pictures of something I have been fortunate to have in the collection for about 18 months which you might be interested in seeing.

    This is a First Empire epée, made by Johann Schimmelbusch of Solingen. It has traditional military attributes of the winged “Wheel of Fortune”, shield showing a lion’s head, lightning, eagles’ heads and stars, lictor’s fasces, and so on. The pommel is decorated with foliage and the hilt is chequered ebony. The blade is triangular, 76 cm. in length and the sword is 91cms overall. It seems incredibly light – but may be that is because I’m comparing it to the weight of heavy cavalry sabres!

    Does anyone know where I might be able to find out more about Schimmelbusch and Solingen? I can’t find much detail in any of the reference books that I have, so any thoughts or advice would be most welcomed.

    By family tradition, this is the epée of Jean Baptiste Barthélémy Auguste Reilhac, born in Lavaur in the Tarn on 28th August 1787. He was a student at the Fontainebleau military school from 9th February 1806, appointed Corporal on 12th June, then Second Lieutenant in the 25th Line Infantry Regiment on 14th September in the same year. He was commissioned Lieutenant on 25th May 1809, then Captain on 25 November 1812 and Major on 13th January 1814, still in the 25th Line Infantry Regiment. He took part in the campaigns of 1807, 1808, 1809, 1810 and 1811, in Poland, in Austria, and in the observation army on the Elbe. In 1812, he took part in the campaigns of Poland and Russia, and having survived the Retreat, in 1813 those of Prussia and Saxony, and the campaign of France in 1814. Knight of the Legion of Honour on 19th September 1813, from the date of which, I am speculating that he was one of the few members of 25th Line that managed to break out of the encirclement at the Battle of Kulm where General Vandamme was captured. On 4th June 1814, he joined the 2nd Line Infantry Regiment (a much more “senior” regiment), and during the 100 Days campaign he was the Major who commanded the 3rd battalion at Waterloo in the middle wave of the assault by Prince Jerôme’s troops on Hougoumont, following the 1st Light Regiment down the lane to the west in the famous attack on the North Gate. He was dismissed on 27th September 1815, and retired back to Lavaur where he lived until he died aged 68 on 26th December 1855.

    I have found copies of his marriage certificate (with his signature) and death certificate from the online Tarn Departmental records. However, I believe that the military records in Paris have a physical description of the individual as well – does any member have any experience of how to obtain those records?

    I wonder what this sword has seen in its life…

    Attached Images Attached Images    

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    East Sussex, England
    Hello Matt,
    Thank you for sharing the story of the owner of your superb epée.
    There is a list of members of the Schimmelbusch family in Bezdek's 'German Swords and Sword Makers'.
    If you don't own the book and want to see the list please contact me.

    Last edited by Ian Knight; 06-24-2011 at 10:05 AM.

  3. #3


    Dear Matt,

    You were just quicker than i, i was thinking also to buy it from Malvaux Good you bought it

    Have pleasure with it !

    Best Marc

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