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Thread: Identify this sword

  1. #26
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    The difference between Le Marchant's views on swords in combat and the detractors (always officers) of the 1796 patterns is that Le Marchant was intelligent and logical (unusual in a British cavalry officer). He saw the 1788 patterns in action, and also the contemporary Austrian swords - the heavy cavalry version was copied directly for the 1796 British HC sword. Le Marchant saw that the 1788 patterns were only suited to the largest and strongest troopers and designed the 1796 LC sabre to be free of excess weight so that all troopers could wield it effectively.

    Le Marchant also saw that the type of sword carried in the formal battlefield charge was fairly irrelevant, the relative morale, horsemanship and ability to hold formation of the two sides were so much more important in the outcome of a charge. Once he had come to this conclusion he proposed that the sword carried by a trooper should be optimal for melee fighting - ie a handy manoeuvrable sabre. At Campo Mayor in 1811 two and a half squadrons of the 13th Light Dragoons, armed with the 1796 LC sabre, routed three squadrons of French dragoons (26th Dragoons), armed with the long straight French Klingenthal HC swords. The two sides threaded each other twice (ie the ranks passed though each other) when the French swords should have been at an advantage. In the subsequent melee the 13th broke their opponents (killing their commanding officer in the process), and they routed for 7 miles, taking 3 squadrons of French light cavalry with them. In melee combat the long French swords were inferior to the 1796 LCs, the French outnumbered the British by a whole troop (c. 60-75 men).
    Sweord ora ond sweordes ecg.

  2. #27
    Exactly!
    Re self-inflicted wounds: needless to say, these (like "friendly fire") have always been a significant and virtually unpreventable problem in the heat of battle; and the advent of the pistol made matters even worse for cavalrymen, particularly during the American Civil War, when bullets often found the wrong billets during all of the wild shooting that usually occurred in melees. Also, those who favoured "the point", as well as those opposed to "razor-sharp" blades, cited many instances of self-inflicted wounds, wounds to fellow troopers, and wounded horses. But the well-meaning idealists were never able to remove all of the risks from close combat!
    Last edited by L. Braden; 08-28-2014 at 08:45 AM.

  3. #28
    Evidently, from what I can discover, there are no actual statistics as to accidental sword wounds in Le Marchant's time - only the verbal info that he received from surgeons in Flanders that "many of the wounds" were accidental and that "the horses were perhaps the principal victims". (Not his words, but those of his first biographer, Denis Le Marchant.)
    Last edited by L. Braden; 08-29-2014 at 10:47 AM.

  4. #29
    Some afterthoughts:
    Here's the full phrase: "many of the wounds, which the men received in the field, could have been inflicted by no other swords than their own." How did the surgeons know this for sure? Did any of the troopers admit it, if they were even aware of it?
    As for the horses, who were reportedly "often gashed about the head and neck by their riders", there are accounts of horses being intentionally as well as unintentionally wounded by opponents; because, of course, when you disabled a horse, you frequently disabled or otherwise inconvenienced its rider. If not, then an active swordsman on foot could be a far more dangerous customer to deal with than one on horseback! So, how did the surgeons know for sure that the horses were "often" wounded by their riders? Did any of the troopers admit it, if they were even aware of it?
    Last edited by L. Braden; 08-29-2014 at 01:41 PM.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    Some afterthoughts:
    Here's the full phrase: "many of the wounds, which the men received in the field, could have been inflicted by no other swords than their own." How did the surgeons know this for sure? Did any of the troopers admit it, if they were even aware of it?
    As for the horses, who were reportedly "often gashed about the head and neck by their riders", there are accounts of horses being intentionally as well as unintentionally wounded by opponents; because, of course, when you disabled a horse, you frequently disabled or otherwise inconvenienced its rider. If not, then an active swordsman on foot could be a far more dangerous customer to deal with than one on horseback! So, how did the surgeons know for sure that the horses were "often" wounded by their riders? Did any of the troopers admit it, if they were even aware of it?
    There is at least one record of a British cavalry trooper intentionally cutting his own horse's head in combat, in order to have an excuse to pull up and get out of harm's way. I imagine that the self-inflicted wounds referred to by Le Marchant were mostly to the troopers' lower legs and feet, it wouldn't be too difficult for a surgeon to ascertain the angle of impact causing a wound. These incidents were noted by the men close to those who had clumsily injured themselves or their horses. During the charge at Sahagun, when 400 British hussars routed 800 French chasseurs a cheval and dragoons, the British troopers noticed that one of their number managed to shoot his own horse with a pistol. There is not much fog of war when you are a couple of yards away from some clumsy oaf.
    Sweord ora ond sweordes ecg.

  6. #31
    Thank you for your comments!
    I wondered, too, if the types of swords used by both sides had any bearing on the cause and nature of the wounds. In any other words, for example, a curved blade making (or more apt to make) a distinctly different wound than a straight one, thereby offering a means by which the source of that wound can be identified.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 08-31-2014 at 01:43 PM. Reason: Clarification

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