Cavalry Sword, 1796

This well-known pattern of cavalry sword replaced the 1788 Light Dragoon sword and was used throughout the Napoleonic wars by British light cavalry. The same pattern was carried by both officers and troopers, although the officers often had the blue and gilt decoration that we see in this example.

The sword was designed by Major-General John Le Marchant, the famous cavalry leader, innovator and founder of the Royal Military Academy now based at Sandhurst. Henry Osborn of Bordesley in Birmingham was commissioned to make the sword according to Le Marchant's design and it was approved by the Duke of York.

The sword is 37.5 inches overall in length and the blade 32.5 inches. The width of the blade varies; where it meets the hilt it is 1.5 inches wide, in the middle of the blade it is 1.4 inches wide and at it's widest, near the point it is 1.6 inches. There was variation of these sizes as soldiers on campaign sharpened their weapons and altered the length and width slightly. The sword weighs 2lb 9oz and the steel scabbard weighs 2lb 7oz. The hilt is described as stirrup-hilted and is wooden, covered in black leather bound with twisted wire.

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by Stephen Luscombe