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Old 3rd January 2014, 11:04 AM   #1
sirupate
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Default Picture of a 17th Lancer in 1829 wearing a 1796 LCS


Also it appears that the famed military artist RC Woodville has them using the 1796 LCS in the famous 'Charge of the Light Brigade'.
Having been based in India and then armed with the 1796 LCS is it possible they retained that sabre even in the Crimea, taking into account the picture from 1829 and Woodvilles picture of them?
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Old 3rd January 2014, 11:16 AM   #2
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Picture by RC Woodville
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Old 3rd January 2014, 12:30 PM   #3
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Very nice illustrations and info.
Thanks for sharing
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Old 3rd January 2014, 01:44 PM   #4
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My pleasure Fernando.

Anyone have any thought on the possibility of the 17th still retaining the 1796 LCS during the Crimea War?
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Old 4th January 2014, 05:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirupate
My pleasure Fernando.

Anyone have any thought on the possibility of the 17th still retaining the 1796 LCS during the Crimea War?


An absolutely fascinating topic in British military history, and most intriguing question. Actually as a very young collector my fascination with the Charge of the Light Brigade became an obsession (probably from the much dramatized Errol Flynn Hollywood version) and compelled me to collect British cavalry swords. Like many such widely popularized historic events which became heavily filtered through literature and later movies, ongoing research has always questioned many often distorted and sometimes fanciful notions.

The 17th Lancers, probably the most well known of the famed 'Light Brigade' due to their distinct uniforms and lances in the front line of the charge, had indeed been in India from 1817 until 1823. While in India they had been reassigned as 'lancers' , I believe one of the first British units so designated, influenced by Napoleons Polish lancers (hence the distinct 'chapka' headgear).

The M1796 light cavalry sabre was being supplanted by the new model 1821 cavalry sabre with three bar guard rather than the stirrup hilt of the M1796, and by 1823 there had been some issuance of the new swords. However with certain production issues if I recall correctly, the renewed production in scale did not begin until 1829, and there has often been classification disparity in whether these were M1821 or M1829.

In any case, while the 17th were in India, they of course would have been armed with the M1796, and that sabre indeed remained in service in India long after the introduction of the M1821/29 and was much favored by native regiments. In fact, these sabres remained so popular in India they were still being produced privately for the native regiments as late as end of the 19th century.

The fabulous prints by R. Caton Woodville are of course often key icons for students of militaria, however like other artistic renderings of military units and historic events, a degree of artistic license existed. While it is known that during the issue of the new M1821/29 sabres a long transition period ensued, we know that the 17th were back in England by 1823, and were being outfitted with unique new uniforms to accompany their new designation as lancers.
It seems highly doubtful that a unit with this much attention to fashion in addition to key designation would not receive the new sabre forms straightaway, but perhaps a lag until 1829 could have plausibly occurred.

It is now known that at the Charge of the Light Brigade, the primary sword of issue to the units was the M1821/29 light cavalry sabre. However new evidence has revealed that a considerable number of the troopers of all units carried the newly issued M1853 pattern, a much heavier sabre. There has been no evidence of the older M1796 patterns in the Charge .

I would submit however that in later years, reunions and events honoring survivors were celebrated in England through the latter part of the century. Apparently a number of presentation sabres of the M1796 pattern were inscribed and presented to some of these survivors. It seems there have only been a couple I know of which have come up in auctions. I know they caused quite a stir when they appeared and revived that very question.

I would conclude that the M1796 was not present at the Charge .
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Old 4th January 2014, 06:21 PM   #6
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Default just one more interesting point

As most of us know.the forming of lancer regiments in the british army was a direct result of meetings with french and polish lancers during the napoleonic wars.not only did we copy the uniforms but also the lance itself.that famous RHA officer Mercer when walking around the battlefield of waterloo after the battle, came across a wounded lancer of the red lancers of the old guard.mercer took the lancers lance as a souvenir of the battle and took it back to the UK.it was this lance that was used for the pattern for lancers for the british cavalry. As a note, there was a 1821 pattern sabre with an engraved blade stating that it was ueed during the LB action.michael
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Old 4th January 2014, 07:08 PM   #7
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The gentleman in the first picture bears some resemblance to one Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE.
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Old 4th January 2014, 10:03 PM   #8
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For anyone interested in regulation military swords, in particular those of the British cavalry, one of the most fascinating and accurate books to date on these and historic events and persons using them has just been published by Richard Dellar:
"The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912,

This volume, rather than being the usual rather dry typology and classification compendiums reads more like a fascinating historical story using actual weapons with key provenance to illustrate them.

On p.252, the instances I referred to concerning the M1796 light cavalry swords with presentation plaques on the scabbards are detailed thoroughly and there were several as noted. The first one surfaced in 1976 at a Wallis & Wallis auction (referred to as the 'Tucker' sword for the 17th Lancers private who was indeed in the Charge). Later another of the 17th Lancers and one to the 4th Hussars appeared . It is believed that these were possibly presented by the Balaclava Commemoration Society which first convened October 25,1875. It is noted that while the troopers were not armed with the 1796 sabres at the Charge, access to old stores of these were likely available at associated armouries and would have served well as such presentation swords. The engraved escutcheons on the scabbards only reference Balaklava and Oct 25 1854. On the Tucker sword the owners name is inscribed on it. It is puzzling on the 4th Hussar sword that it is marked 4H, and the hussar title was not in use until 1861, clearly indicating these marking were applied later than the charge.

Since Woodville did not begin to exhibit his artwork until 1879, with the Light Brigade and 17th Lancers works apparently sometime later, probably early 1880s, it is tempting to presume that perhaps these presentation swords might have influenced his illustrations as these commemorative events were in place.

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Old 5th January 2014, 07:43 AM   #9
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Salaams All; Just reading the poem conjours up some of the feelings and atmosphere of that great charge.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death,
  Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
  All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
  Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
  All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
  Noble six hundred!
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Old 5th January 2014, 09:31 AM   #10
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Thank you everyone for your input, especially Jim McDougall, the book by Richard Dellar: "The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912, sounds very interesting, and worth a shout.
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Old 5th January 2014, 03:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... In fact, these sabres remained so popular in India they were still being produced privately for the native regiments as late as end of the 19th century...

As in other places, like for Portuguese Cavalry until 1851 .
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Old 5th January 2014, 04:30 PM   #12
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Hi,
I picked up this image a while ago and thought it may be of interest on this thread. A contemporary aquatinted print by Colnaghi & Co., 23 Cockspur Street, London., printed 1st Dec 1813 entitled 'A PRIVATE of the 2D. or ROYAL NORTH BRITISH DRAGOONS (GREYS). It clearly shows the British Heavy Cavalry Troopers sword of the period i.e. the 1796 H.C. Troopers sword. This regiment, as you know, is more commonly known as the 'Scots Greys' and best known for their famous charge and capture of a French Eagle at Waterloo by Sgt., later Ensign Ewart.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 5th January 2014, 04:54 PM   #13
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Hi,
Sergeant Ewart capturing the Eagle. Whether by accident or design Ewart's sword appears to have a re-profiled point which was done to some 1796 H.C. Troopers swords in order to try and make it a more effective thrusting weapon whilst the the sword directly behind appears to still have the original 'hatchet' point as issued.
Regards,
Norman.

P.S. 'Sirupate', I can vouch first hand for Richard Dellar's book, a great and informative read.
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Old 6th January 2014, 08:05 AM   #14
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Lovely pics Norman
Here is Sgt. Ewart's Sword and the Eagle he captured;
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Old 6th January 2014, 05:56 PM   #15
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Thank you so much for the other images guys! and Sirupate for this thread!
The study of the British cavalry has always been a fascinating favorite for me as it was this subject which began my wonderful adventures in the collection and study of arms well over 40 years ago.

Ibrahiim thank you so much for posting Tennyson's magnificent poem in full! Those words have been resoundingly implanted in the literature and language of western culture since, and particularly the words, 'theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die' often occur in everyday expressions and analogy.

Norman, great and most astute observation in the illustration of Sgt. Ewart and that the points of the M1796 disc hilts were varied. I recall that accounts of the Scots Greys leaving England for Belgium state that they were ordered to grind the backs of their sword blades toward the later favored 'spear point. For some time there had been considerable debate over cut vs. thrust in the use of swords, and at this point it was decided, rather in ersatz fashion, that going into combat the spear point would be more effective with these heavy swords than the original hatchet point .

It is indeed curious why the artist would place both forms of point in the illustration and whether a consciously placed rendering or coincidental variation.
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Old 7th January 2014, 08:55 PM   #16
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Let me take the advantage of having a few members here who are within the Cavalry issue and ask you guys the following:
How late are Cavalry charges recorded to have taken place; you know, horsemen, lances, sabres and all ... with or without images ?
... Taking that the one at Balaclava wasn't surely the last one.
Thank you.
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Old 7th January 2014, 10:08 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Let me take the advantage of having a few members here who are within the Cavalry issue and ask you guys the following:
How late are Cavalry charges recorded to have taken place; you know, horsemen, lances, sabres and all ... with or without images ?
... Taking that the one at Balaclava wasn't surely the last one.
Thank you.


Excellent question Nando!! and you're right, Balaklava was far from the last one! For anyone so inclined a great reference on this topic is "Charge to Glory" (James D. Lunt, 1960). According to Lunt, one of the last recorded British cavalry charges was with Sikh sowars of the Burma Frontier Force against Japanese machine gun emplacement near Toungoo, Burma in 1942.

I once, as I have told here before, had the honor of visiting Brig. Francis Ingall author of "Last of the Bengal Lancers" (1988). As a young subaltern he led a mounted cavalry charge of the 6th/13th Bengal Lancers on the Kajuri Plain in Khyber Agency in 1930. As he recounted that action to me as we stood in his living room, he occasionally looked wistfully over to the portrait of his charger, Eagerheart, placed in honor over the fireplace.
He described colorfully ordering his men to 'draw swords' as they charged the numbers of Afridi tribesmen, and he handed me the very M1912 British cavalry sword he had carried at high tierce in the charge.

There are so many stories of these cavalrymen, and it would be hard to cover them all here as there were cavalry in virtually all wars and campaigns up to and including WWII. I will never forget the scene in one movie where General George Patton, the stalwart horse soldier, had ordered his men to stack their swords as they reorganized the cavalry units into armored, and stood with tears in his eyes as the men filed by complying with his order.

It is almost impossible to study the history of these units without as much passion. When I visited Brigadier Ingall I had been studying Bengal Lancers already for years, and there was an excitement and rapport indescribable as we talked, which was reflected deeply as he inscribed my copy of his book.
It remains , much in the way of the portrait of his charger, in a place of honor among my books. He passed away in 1998.
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Old 8th January 2014, 11:28 AM   #18
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I am amazed; never imagined these episodes went so far in time. For me, guys who played sword battling in the XX century, could only hurt themselves .
I have a record ... not so late but, registered with picture ... therefore the real thing, instead of the usual paintings and drawings with authors romantic touch.
I know the scope of the forum limits topics to an earlier period and am also aware this is Sirupate's thread, so hope that both him and the forum don't mind the impertinence.
I will not introduce the image; the text in the (bilingual) book says it all.
(From the " PORTUGUESE ARMY an illustrated memoir " in 2005 )
.
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Old 8th January 2014, 11:48 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Let me take the advantage of having a few members here who are within the Cavalry issue and ask you guys the following:
How late are Cavalry charges recorded to have taken place; you know, horsemen, lances, sabres and all ... with or without images ?
... Taking that the one at Balaclava wasn't surely the last one.
Thank you.



There have been a few articles about the U.S. Special Forces on horseback in Afghanistan; swords included:

U.S. Special Forces Joined Charge On Horseback Against Taliban
Quote:
Washington -- U.S. special forces working with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan have ridden in cavalry charges against Taliban militia positions, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said. ``In Afghanistan, a country we think of in somewhat medieval terms, our special forces have taken a page from the past, from the history of the horse cavalry with our soldiers armed with swords and rifles, maneuvering on horseback,'' Wolfowitz said in a speech last night...


Monument honors U.S. 'horse soldiers' who invaded Afghanistan
Quote:
Demossville, Kentucky (CNN) -- The U.S. special operations teams that led the American invasion in Afghanistan a decade ago did something that no American military had done since the last century: ride horses into combat...
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Old 8th January 2014, 01:39 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Queequeg
... swords included: ...

If you don't mind, i'll take that as a figure of speech .
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Old 10th January 2014, 08:31 AM   #21
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I never knew that about the US special forces acting as a kind of modern light dragoon, fabulous!
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Old 10th January 2014, 06:05 PM   #22
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It is not difficult to assimilate that horses are a functional alternative for accessing areas where motorized vehicles can not reach but, swords why not horse riding with assault rifles?
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Old 10th January 2014, 06:12 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
It is not difficult to assimilate that horses are a functional alternative for accessing areas where motorized vehicles can not reach but, swords why not horse riding with assault rifles?



Oh Nando!!! Where is your panache' ????? Actually in the Sahara the Tuaregs carry AK-47s, but still faithfully wear their takoubas.
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Old 11th January 2014, 01:40 PM   #24
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Old 3rd April 2019, 08:05 PM   #25
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A lot of Afghanis will cheerfully charge at you thru a hail of bullets, they believe if they get hit, it is the will of Allah and they will go to Paradise if they die. being charged by a man with a big knife, or sword is, however, a different thing altogether. If they have a bit lopped off by an edged weapon, that's how they go into paradise and that is forever. Best not take any chances against a crazy Ferengi who brings a sword to a gun fight. Allah just might be helping HIM!.

A sword, or fixing bayonets is a statement of intent and commitment that they will be getting up close and personal and do not themselves mind dying. A proper Brit bayonet charge against Argentinian troops not all that long ago, who had been resisting strongly, scared the excrement out of them and they surrendered in droves.

Ref:https://www.businessinsider.com/the...12-10?r=US&IR=T

https://www.businessinsider.com/6-o...15-10?r=US&IR=T

In spite of the bean counter REMFs, sharp pointy things are not yet obsolete, because they ultimately still work.

Doing it old school: https://vimeo.com/277556631

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Old 4th April 2019, 02:52 AM   #26
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G'day Guys,

The charge at Huj in November 1917 is said to be one of the last successful cavalry charges of the British army. It was immortalized in a watercolour painting by British artist Lady Butler. Below is a 1908 pattern cavalry troopers sword marked to the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry, which was one of the units that took part in the charge.
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Old 4th April 2019, 06:48 AM   #27
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_udGcKMhbtc

As painted from Huj

For Jim: American charge in Afghanistan, no swords, M4 carbines...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RR9uK6x5HgA

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Old 4th April 2019, 09:51 AM   #28
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1921 The charge of the Alcantara Regiment to cover the disastrous pull back in Annual in Moroccan Rif.
90% of casualties after 10 charges by 700 men. They were using those Puerto Seguro straight sabers.


https://www.abc.es/20120920/archivo...1209201639.html

The picture is modern.
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Old 4th April 2019, 04:02 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_udGcKMhbtc

As painted from Huj

For Jim: American charge in Afghanistan, no swords, M4 carbines...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RR9uK6x5HgA



Thank you so much Wayne! I really enjoyed the movie "12 Strong" and this is great insight into the true events.
As I have mentioned before of course, I have always had special interests in Afghanistan. In my very young years (loooooong ago) I was intrigued by the Bengal Lancers; Gunga Din and 'King of the Khyber Rifles'....pretty much anything 'Khyber'.

Years later I was fortunate to interview Brig. Francis Ingall (author of his autobiography, "Last of the Bengal Lancers". In this he described his 'last; mounted charge in the plains near the famed Pass.
It was most interesting to me as these studies of Afghanistan became much more dynamic as my son in law; then my son; then my grandson....all served in Afghanistan.

In looking into these many 'charge' events (and thank all of you guys for these great examples and art work), one book which is fascinating on the topic is "Charge to Glory", James D.Lunt, 1960.
As can be imagined there are many 'last charges' in many campaigns in the 20th century, and regardless of whatever qualification or revisionism which evolves in studying them......the courage and panache of these horsemen cannot be discounted.

While in reality horses were often actually used as 'work' animals, and 'charges' were not typically the raging 'hell for leather' events often embellished and portrayed by writers and artists, the true elements of courage and tenacity stand profoundly.

Bryce I was not aware of this charge nor the painting by Lady Butler, who is most well known for her painting "Scotland Forever" immortalizing the charge of the Royal Scots Greys at Waterloo. The actual 'charge' of course was quite different than the portrayal, but was painted over six decades later, but beautifully elicits the emotion and dynamics of the event.
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Old 4th April 2019, 05:02 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...
In any case, while the 17th were in India, they of course would have been armed with the M1796, and that sabre indeed remained in service in India long after the introduction of the M1821/29 and was much favored by native regiments. In fact, these sabres remained so popular in India they were still being produced privately for the native regiments as late as end of the 19th century...


...and beyond. I gather the Indian Army was offered the 1908 style straight thrusting 'sabre' and turned it down, only accepting essentially a 1796 with a beefed up ricasso area and a three bar guard (Mine fits a 1796lc scabbard up to about 3 in. from actual seating and it's hard to tell the difference). They were sadly forced to take the fairly useless 1908s just before ww1. I wonder if any of the '96s made it to Europe like ancestral Gurkha khukuris. The 'Mountain sabre' was popular in the Mountains of northern India including the Khyber pass and Afghanistan where they actually saw service. Mine feels a lot better balanced and handy than a 1796LC.

The Italian Mountain divisions in WW1 also had a very 1796-ish sword. They, and the Austrians opposing did amazing things in impossible places in the Alps.

The 1796 lives on.
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