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Thread: Mameluke - 11th Light Dragoons?

  1. #26
    According to the sources I cited, he transferred from the 11th to the 10th in 1802.
    Ensign, 102nd Foot, 1783
    Transferred to 60th Foot, 1788
    Lt., 11th Foot, 1792
    Capt. & Adjt., 11th Foot, 1795
    Maj., 11th Foot, 1799
    Lt. Col., 10th W.I. Regt., 1802
    Lt. Col., 12th Battalion of Reserve, 1803
    Lt. Col., 59th Foot, 1804
    Bvt. Col., 59th Foot, 1810
    Maj. Gen., 1813
    Last edited by L. Braden; 09-10-2015 at 12:09 PM. Reason: Correction: 1804, ex official army list for 1814

  2. #27
    Annual Register, 1802: "Major Samuel Gibbs, to be lieutenant-colonel of the 10th West India regiment."
    All army lists, 1783-1814, confirm the dates and ranks in the above list.

  3. #28
    My 1785 List notes him as Ensign his date of rank 8th October 1783 - "102d Regiment of Foot, Eaft Indies". I have nothing to add, reference material limited.

  4. #29
    Thanks, Gordon, for adding confirmation of my list!
    Additional evidence of his leaving the 11th for the 10th, from Cobbett's Annual Register, 1802: "11th Reg. Foot, Capt. Jas. Forster, from the 57th Foot, to be Maj. by purchase, vice Gibbs, promoted in the 10th West-India. ... 10th West-India Reg. Maj. Sam. Gibbs, from the 11th Foot, to be Lieut. Col. by purchase."

  5. #30
    Are we done?

  6. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    Are we done?
    Well I imagine to the extent that Samuel Gibbs must be considered a possibility, however his dates of service seem a little early for the sword and the light infantry bugle remains unexplained?
    Celeriter nil crede

  7. #32
    The 102nd and 60th were light infantry; so if it was G's sword, the bugle would symbolize his service with them. Still no conclusive evidence, however, that such a sword could not have been made for him up until the time of his death at New Orleans in 1815.

  8. #33
    More probable: Gibbs served in (as lieutenant) and subsequently commanded (as captain) the light company of the 11th. His previous experience with the 102nd and 60th would have qualified him for it.

  9. #34
    PROOF, excerpted from A Collection of State Papers Relative to the War Against France, Vol. VIII, Appendix, p. 71, listing those British officers who were taken prisoner by the French: "11th flank companies, Captains, Knight, grenadiers; Gibbs, light infantry."
    As far as I'm concerned, that explains the XI, the bugles, and the ASPERA SPERNO. However, will welcome a better explanation of, or solution to, this apparent mystery, if such is possible!

  10. #35
    P.S. Gibbs was taken prisoner at Ostend in May of 1798 and exchanged at Christmas.
    Incidentally, in 1809, Lt. Col. Gibbs led a squadron of dragoons and the light company of his 59th in action against the Mysoreans. (Proceedings of a General Court Martial, Held at Bangalore, 1835.)

  11. #36
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    Very impressive everyone! Thank you all very much. I'll take this information back to the curator next time I am scheduled at the museum (22nd I believe) and see if there is any history of the Gibbs family in Saint John, New Brunswick or if there are any other pieces possibly attributed to this family in the collection and this sword some how got left out or separated.

    Thank you again and if anyone should have any other ideas that come to mind, I would be quite interested to hear.

    I'll keep you posted on what I learn.

    One other thought that just occurred, if Gibbs time with the 11th and the dating of this sword are not matching up, is it possible that this sword was presented to him by the 11th sometime after he had left them? Or would it most likely have a presentation inscription on it if that was the case?

  12. #37
    Re dating: Colonel and subsequently Major General Arthur Wellesley (Wellington) reportedly carried a mameluke or mameluke-hilted sword while in India, 1797-1804, and it's known that his favourite (if not only) swordmaker was Prosser. Worth investigating. Not me, however. I've had enough!
    Incidentally, mamelukes (like tulwars, shamshirs, etc.) were well known to European militaries long before Napoleon invaded Egypt. Le Marchant, for one, mentioned them in c. 1790. The only significant objection to them seemed to be the hilt, which was considered to be an insufficient guard; hence they were rarely used by the British as combat swords and were reserved for ceremonial use because (as the ladies said) they looked so "dainty and pretty", unlike the combat weapons. Hmmm.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 09-11-2015 at 02:49 PM.

  13. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Dellar View Post
    Hello Gordon

    The title '11th Native Light Infantry' comes from 'The Army of India Medal Roll 1799-1826' (J B Haywood & Son, 1974). This has always confused me a little because the native regiments listed are not split into Madras, Bengal, Bombay, etc. Anyway, the strung bugle and XI on the blade seemed a good fit but maybe I have put 2 and 2 together and made 5 ...

    Below is a photo of the entry for the 11th Native LI in case anyone wants to go chasing mottoes ...

    Richard
    The 11th Bengal Native Infantry had the battle honour "Bhurtpore", which would tally with the medal clasp for Captain Richard Benson in your scan for the 11th Native Light Infantry.

    ADDED: Yes, just confirmed that Benson was with the 11th Bengal Native Infantry. https://books.google.com/books?id=2g...page&q&f=false
    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 09-11-2015 at 07:36 PM.

  14. #39
    I have found the 11th Sylhet Local (Light) Infantry (1826 - 1861), a possible contender. Can't find a motto to connect it to Aspera Sperno.

    ADDED: https://books.google.com/books?id=7C...try%22&f=false
    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 09-11-2015 at 08:18 PM.

  15. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    Re dating: Colonel and subsequently Major General Arthur Wellesley (Wellington) reportedly carried a mameluke or mameluke-hilted sword while in India, 1797-1804, and it's known that his favourite (if not only) swordmaker was Prosser. Worth investigating. Not me, however. I've had enough!
    Incidentally, mamelukes (like tulwars, shamshirs, etc.) were well known to European militaries long before Napoleon invaded Egypt. Le Marchant, for one, mentioned them in c. 1790. The only significant objection to them seemed to be the hilt, which was considered to be an insufficient guard; hence they were rarely used by the British as combat swords and were reserved for ceremonial use because (as the ladies said) they looked so "dainty and pretty", unlike the combat weapons. Hmmm.
    Yes, bad wording on my part in one of the posts above. I didn't mean that mameluke sabres were unknown in Europe before 1802-03, just that is when they became the height of fashion and general production really started in earnest. In fact, there is a very early mameluke sabre by the cutler Robert Foster (d. 1795) in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, Laking No. 907 described it thus 'A sabre of Prussian pattern but of English workmanship, last years of the 18th century, the grip and pommel are of one piece and overlaid on either side with plaques of ivory secured by two rosette-headed rivets ; in the pommel there is a hole through which passed the sword knot. The quillons and scabbard mounts are of gilt copper, the former of Oriental fashion, ending in knots of square shaped section and embossed and chased in the cente with trophies of arms. The blade is 31½ in. long, its whole surface being watered in mock Oriental fashion and furthermore enriched by a sham Oriental inscription in gold. The scabbard is covered with black leather with three mounts and two rings for suspension. The locket is inscribed FOSTER &c &c Also, of course, the 'oriental scimitars carried by mamelukes and Turks' was one of Le Marchant's inspirations for the 1796 light cavalry sabre.

    Also, I may well have been wrong when I said the majority of pre-1820 Prosser swords are just marked Prosser Charing Cross. Not less than 3 feet away from me is a Prosser sword dated 1800 that is marked 'Sword Cutler to the King and his Royal Highness the Duke of York'. So some Prosser swords refer to the King and others do not - I cannot really say which is in the majority.

    However, returning to the sword in question, the case for it belonging to Sir Samuel Gibbs seems quite compelling in terms of his connection with the light company of the 11th Foot and the motto Aspera Sperno. However, the characteristics of the sword do appear to be significantly later than the dates of his service, particularly the all metal scabbard (the wood or horn grips are also a bit of a mystery). As you say, possibly a memento of his time with the 11th Foot? possibly if he became a staff officer later in his career? However, I still do not believe we can totally discount some other option - such as an officer in a Native Infantry regiment in India. If it did belong to Gibbs, what a pity he didn't also put his family crest on the blade with the motto.
    Celeriter nil crede

  16. #41
    Thanks indeed for your informative post!
    Gibbs was twice a staff officer: in 1793 and again in 1796 he was a.d.c. to Lt. Gen. James Grant.
    For all we know, the sword was given by the 11th to Sir Edward Gibbs in memoriam after the death of his brother in 1815.
    Anyway, any positive identification must include the motto as well as the other aspects; otherwise, it's mere speculation ad infinitum.

  17. #42
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    Annandale, VA
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    763
    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Honey View Post
    Thanks L. Braden, Richard & Gordon,

    it would beg the question, "did officers of the Swedish military use Mamelukes?", "did Prosser export blades?". Perhaps this option is a wild goose chase.

    Any more luck on the native infantry front? Or is this perhaps as far as the trail leads? It seems so close...
    As to the question of whether Prosser exported blades, the USMC museum in Quantico. Virginia has a M1826 mameluke sword formerly owned by Marine Corps Colonel Commandant John Harris which is marked on one side "Prosser/Manufacturer/to/the/King/Charing Cross" and on the other "Prosser/Manufacture/to/the/King/London". This sword pre-dates 1859 when the USMC replaced the M1826 Mameluke with the Army M1850 Foot Officers sword. Prosser may have been the British company from which the USMC procured the initial lot of mameluke swords distributed to all marine officers in 1826, but that has not been established. See article "Acquisitions" from the Summer 1993 edition of "Fortitudine", the museum's journal which is available on line.

  18. #43
    Thanks for that info! I never doubted that Prosser et al. exported blades. What businessman in his right mind would have refused an order? However, I wonder what the import-export regulations were in those days regarding weapons.
    Addenda: "The advantage of a protective hilt is sacrificed in the Mameluke sabres." (Col. Marey, Memoir on Swords, 1860.)
    Robson, for one, noted that Wellington "as a result of his Indian service, habitually wore a mameluke-hilted scimitar long before such a pattern became the regulation." Perhaps that's why so few pre-regulation mamelukes are seen today - they were scarce until W. popularized them and made them regulation.

  19. #44
    L. Braden,
    Do you have access to the entire The Connoisseur or just the Google Books preview? I don't have full access, but when I search for Gibbs, Google's search preview states, "ARMS ON GOLD SEAL— PUTNEY THE arms read — azure, three pole-axes argent garnished or, within a bordure or. ... The seal itself must date about 1830-1840, so the original owner cannot have been Major-General Sir Samuel Gibbs, ..."

    and

    "M. Aspera sperno. Beneath the arms suspended by a ribbon is ... The seal itself must date about 1830-1840, so the original owner cannot have been Major-General Sir Samuel Gibbs, K.C.B., who died in 1815. I imagine him to have been Lieut."

    Jonathan
    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 09-12-2015 at 06:41 PM.

  20. #45
    While we are throwing out ideas, what if the 11th Light Infantry is not British or Indian? What if it refers to the 11th Caçadores (Portuguese light infantry)? They had a British commander (at least one source states he was German, others say he was a major in the British Army--could be both), Thomas Dursbach (sometimes spelled Dursback).
    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 09-12-2015 at 07:23 PM.

  21. #46
    It appears that Thomas Francis Dursbach was KIA at Badajoz:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=Lo...adajoz&f=false

    A bit more on the 11th Caçadores: http://www.arqnet.pt/exercito/11bc.html

    Another British Officer in command of the 11th was KIA:

    Captain Charles Kilshaw - 77th Foot - killed at Orthes - 27th February 1814.
    Serving as Lieutenant-Colonel with the 11th Cacadores.

  22. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    Thanks for that info! I never doubted that Prosser et al. exported blades. What businessman in his right mind would have refused an order? However, I wonder what the import-export regulations were in those days regarding weapons.
    Addenda: "The advantage of a protective hilt is sacrificed in the Mameluke sabres." (Col. Marey, Memoir on Swords, 1860.)
    Robson, for one, noted that Wellington "as a result of his Indian service, habitually wore a mameluke-hilted scimitar long before such a pattern became the regulation." Perhaps that's why so few pre-regulation mamelukes are seen today - they were scarce until W. popularized them and made them regulation.
    The 'mameluke' didn't become an official 'regulation' sword until the Dress Regulations of 1822 when it was prescribed for officers of the 9th, 12th and 16th Lancers (with metal scabbard for dress wear and a velvet covered scabbard for full dress). However, prior to that, from c. 1802-03, it had become standard wear for virtually every fashionable light cavalry officer (and many other non-cavalry officers). By c. 1810, various regimental variations were appearing, the example below made by Prosser in 1818 for an officer of the 3rd Light Dragoons. Miller & Dawney (Military Drawings and Paintings in the Royal Collection, Phaidon London 1966) show many examples from the period 1802-1822. When officially recognised in 1822, it must have been a case of 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em'. I don't doubt however that Wellington must have been a strong influence in this practice.

    Comparison of the example below which is dated 1818 and the example I posted above clearly shows how, with time, the mameluke became 'Europeanised' moving further and further away from the original style of the Turkish kilic.

    PS, it is also interesting that Laking describes the early mamelukes in the Royal Collection as being 'of Prussian style'. Clearly it would seem that the Prussians (and probably other East European countries) adopted the mameluke in some form earlier than it appeared in Britian. This is not particularly surprising as it is evident from the eastern so-called 'mystical' symbols on imported German blades of the late 18th century that the Prussians were fascinated by all things oriental.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Richard Dellar; 09-12-2015 at 11:48 PM. Reason: Afterthought
    Celeriter nil crede

  23. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    While we are throwing out ideas, what if the 11th Light Infantry is not British or Indian? What if it refers to the 11th Caçadores (Portuguese light infantry)? They had a British commander (at least one source states he was German, others say he was a major in the British Army--could be both), Thomas Dursbach (sometimes spelled Dursback).
    Jonathan

    Yes, it was the habit of many British officers in the army of Portugal to carry British-made and British pattern swords ...

    Richard
    Celeriter nil crede

  24. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    L. Braden,
    Do you have access to the entire The Connoisseur or just the Google Books preview? I don't have full access, but when I search for Gibbs, Google's search preview states, "ARMS ON GOLD SEAL— PUTNEY THE arms read — azure, three pole-axes argent garnished or, within a bordure or. ... The seal itself must date about 1830-1840, so the original owner cannot have been Major-General Sir Samuel Gibbs, ..."

    and

    "M. Aspera sperno. Beneath the arms suspended by a ribbon is ... The seal itself must date about 1830-1840, so the original owner cannot have been Major-General Sir Samuel Gibbs, K.C.B., who died in 1815. I imagine him to have been Lieut."

    Jonathan
    "ARMS ON GOLD SEAL -- PUTNEY. The arms read -- azure, three pole-axes argent garnished or, within a bordure or. C. an arm in armour embowed proper the hand grasping a pole-axe argent in pale. M. Aspera sperno. Beneath the arms suspended by a ribbon is a badge, apparently that of the Order of St. Louis. The arms and crest are those of Gibbs or Gibbes; the motto is unrecorded. The seal itself must date about 1830-1840, so the original owner cannot have been Major-General Sir Samuel Gibbs, K.C.B., who died in 1815. I imagine him to have been Lieut.-General Sir Edward Gibbs, K.C.B., d. 1847, Governor of Jersey from 1838 to 1847."
    C.: Crest. M.: Motto. Putney was in business c. 1830-40. Regimental mottoes were generally recorded, but family mottoes not so, which is why you won't find it in any official or unofficial book of mottoes, heraldry, etc.
    I like your Portuguese connection! But what of the motto?
    Regards!
    Last edited by L. Braden; 09-13-2015 at 01:27 PM. Reason: Correction: bordure

  25. #50
    Except for the hilt, Col. Marey considered the Mameluke sabre "perfection; it is impossible to imagine any improvement in it; as a cutting weapon, it is a chef d'oeuvre. ... The Mameluke sabre is perfect for cutting." He thought it better than any European sabre. But what he didn't observe is that (like other Oriental swords) it was designed exclusively for offensive use, which is why it was (or was supposed to be) used with a shield. All swords were originally meant for offensive use only; but when Europeans abandoned their shields (even the handy targes/targets or bucklers), they converted their swords into both offensive and defensive weapons, thereby exposing them to potential damage or breakage and themselves to injury or even death. Which is why some smart officers armed themselves with stout sticks to accompany their swords as defensive weapons. So, in the Western world, the mameluke was generally relegated to being a mere dress sword. Stupid or what?!

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