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Old 20th June 2012, 11:08 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,694

Hi Christek,
Absolutely no problem, and I appreciate your sincere interest in learning more on the history and development of the actual swords represented, at least nominally, in some of these reproductions. I look forward to your further posting of your future acquisitions for discussion, and hopefully we can help with any questions you might have.

The M1840 cavalry sabre has a most interesting history, despite the fact that it came into use at a time when the use of the sword was waning, especially in the U.S. Virtually one of the only sword makers here at the time was Ames, and they were not well situated for production when new swords were sought in 1840 and actually the first ones were produced in Solingen (Schnitzler & Kirshbaum) delivered in 1841.
By the time of the Civil War many of these were on hand, though the M1860 (actually first made 1857) were becoming available. The cavalry sabre did not see a great deal of use, but was still a regulation weapon.There are almost no records of wounds caused by swords except for blunt trauma type instances, but of course there are various narrative and incidental accounts which may not be entirely accurate.
The reason these M1840's were termed 'old wristbreaker' was reputedly due to the poor training and ill perceived concepts of maintainance, typically they werent even sharp. They were heavy and when incorrectly used one could easily injure thier wrists in awkwardly executed manuevers.

By the time of the Indian wars, there was some degree of use or at least wear of these sabres (hence the American Indian term 'long knives) at first but by the time of the Little Big Horn in 1876 these were left behind. There are instances of some swords apparantly captured among some tribal members but these were held ceremonially as status symbols and not as weapons.

After the Civil War these swords were sold literally in heaps as surplus, despite not being officially obsolete. Many ended up in armouries while many went to surplus vendors and by the time of the Spanish American war it is said swords needed to be obtained from some of these vendors.
The M1913 Patton sword is considered generally the last U.S. regulation cavalry sword ( a M1931 prototype also existed) but never saw use in combat. The official order rendering the cavalry sword officially obsolete was on April 18, 1934 (pers. comm. West Point 7/10/00) and it is said that General Patton himself wept as his men turned in thier swords as ordered.

If I can be of any further help please reach me privately.

All the very best,
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