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    British P1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword

    British P1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword

    £1,000 (approx conversion from $1195)

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    About this item

    The iconic P1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword, made famous by Bernard Cornwell’s fictional
    Napoleonic Wars hero Richard Sharpe in books and TV, was the sword carried by the Union
    Brigade at the Battle of Waterloo.  As manufactured it was a heavy and clumsy sword not
    generally liked by those who carried it, however, with certain simple modifications it was a
    very effective weapon in strong skilled hands.  This example shows these modifications, an
    indication of obvious field use.  The large disc guard would dig into the side of the wearer
    and so it was often ground down on the inside as on this example.  The standard tip was a
    hatchet point, which was fine for slashing, but inadequate for a thrust and so this example
    has been ground to a spear point.  The standard scabbard was iron with twin carry rings, but
    this example lacks the scabbard.  Unlike leather scabbards, the iron scabbard was not likely
    to wear out, so its absence indicates the likelihood that this was a battlefield pickup.  There
    would have been many swords of this type left on the field at Waterloo.  The attack of the
    Union Brigade, numbering no more than 1000 riders from three regiments, was extremely
    successful against the French infantry, inflicting an estimated 5,000 casualties and stopping
    the assault that threatened to break the British infantry on Mont St. Jean.  In addition they
    captured two French Eagles, that of the 105th and the 45th line regiments.  However, due to
    over-excitement and poor discipline, many of the cavalrymen ignored the recall and
    continued past the French infantry to attack the Grand Battery.  Not having any nails to spike
    the cannon they achieved little, but with their tired horses they became easy prey for a
    counter attack by French chasseurs, cuirassiers, and lancers.  They suffered nearly 50%
    casualties, including brigade commander Sir William Ponsonby.  The sword offered here
    features the standard iron disc guard with the aforementioned modification, dove-head
    pommel with integral back strap and langets riveted through the leather-covered wood grip.
    Knuckle bow stamped “O/Y+C/C/6" (Oxfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry 6th Company?) Broad
    straight single-edged 32 ½" blade (shortened from the regulation 35") with wide full-length
    fuller and ground spear point; stamped “T. GILL” (Thomas Gill, Birmingham and London).
    Ricasso stamped with broad arrow ordnance mark and a crowned “I” in the fuller.  Hilt with
    deep brown patina; blade generally smooth with light age staining and some rust near the
    point. Overall length 37 ½".

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    Additional Information

    Code

    SS1809

    Period

    19th Century

    Nationality

    British

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    Antique Weapon Store

    Tuckasegee, United States

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