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Cavalry sword and scabbard

  • Dated: 1782 - 1787
  • Culture: British
  • Measurements: overall lenght 109.0 cm
  • Provenance: acquired from sword-cutler Bland

The sword has a burnished steel hilt-vase shaped pommel, acorn-shaped tang button and C-scroll guards. The white rayskin covered barrel-shaped wooden grip features silver gilt foil. The one-edged wooden blade has giltand blued panels, with trellis, scrolls, and trophies.

Source: Copyright © 2014 Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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That time when a naval fleet was defeated by Cavalry,

In 1795 pretty much ever major power in Europe was determined to quash the newly formed French Republic.  Enemies attacked from all sides, and in the Netherlands one of the most unusual events in military history would occur; the defeat of a naval fleet by a cavalry force.

As part of the French Revolutionary Wars, France initiated a surprise attack and invasion of the Netherlands.  After captured Amsterdam in January of 1795, the French commander Gen. Jean-Charles Pichegru learned that the Dutch fleet was anchored off of Den Helder, 90km north of Amsterdam, and were quickly removing the ice covering the port’s bay so that they could escape to Britain. The winter was very cold that year, so much of the rivers and coastal bays were frozen over. Gen. Pichegru gave one of his commanders, Brig. Gen. Jean-Guillame de Winter command 8th Hussar Regiment and the 15th Line Infantry, and ordered him to make haste to Den Helder and either capture or destroy the Dutch fleet before they could escape.

To travel to Den Helder as fast as possible, Gen. de Winter order each Hussar to carry an infantrymen with him on his horse.  The men arrived 3 days later, and quietly made their way through Den Helder without being spotted by Dutch sailors.  The next morning they lined up at the bay’s shore and found the ice still intact, with the Dutch fleet still trapped in the harbor.  On the morning of Sept. 23rd, 1795, Gen. de Winter ordered his men to charge the Dutch fleet.  With the 8th Hussars at the lead, the French galloped over the ice and attacked the Dutch ships.  The Dutch, unprepared for a cavalry assault, were not cleared for action and hadn’t even loaded their guns.  By the time the Dutch were ready for combat, dismounted Hussars and infantry were scaling the ships and climbing on the decks.  

The attack on the Dutch fleet was a successful, with 14 ships of the line and 880 guns captured.  It was the only time in history a naval force has been defeated by a cavalry charge.

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Cavalry Sword

  • Dated: circa 1650
  • Culture: probably German
  • Measurements: overall length 102 cm

The sword has a double-edged, straight blade, lenticular in cross-section, with a central point. The upper part, on both sides, has three narrow grooves. The wooden grip is bound with iron and brass wire while the hilt is made of iron. It features a bulbous flattened pommel with a tang-nut and strip knuckleguard with skittles. Perforated double symmetrical counterguard.

Source: Copyright © 2014 Antikvity Praha s.r.o.

Exhibit A21 (Late 15th Century German Armour for Man and Horse) from The Wallace Collection.

To quote Peter Morwood, who helped correct the title of this piece, apparently unique, being the only armour for man and horse in any museum with provenance of being made at the same time (1475-85) in the same style and the same workshop for the same person, a baron of the Von Freyberg family.

Russian Cossacks, World War One

Cossack, 1st Argun Regiment, Trans-Baikal Host

Cossacks were expected to provide their own uniforms; and this man shows the regulation dress for the Steppe Hosts, distinguished by the yellow trouser stripe of the Trans-Baikal troops. His weapon is the ‘Cossack’ model of the standard M1891 Mosin-Nagant ‘3-line’ rifle.

Cossack, Kuban Cossack infantry

Kuban infantry units wore the traditional Caucasian Cossack dress including the heavy black felted hair burka cape for foul weather. His weapons include rifle, pistol, and a Caucasian dagger which has its highly decorated scabbard protected by cloth bindings. The standard shirt-tunic is worn under a kaftan coat. Kuban and Terek Cossacks shaved their heads.

Lieutenant, 2nd Volgski Regiment, Terek Host

The epitome of the Caucasian Cossack officer; the highly decorated weapons and kaftan are typical of these units throughout the war. The cartridge pockets on each breast, gaziri, were functional as well as decorative. The undershirt, beshmet, was often privately made and did not always conform to regulations. During the war supply problems led to khaki replacing the grey kaftans. The rank of this sotnik or first lieutenant is identified by the three stars and single stripe on his shoulder boards, which also bear the regimental number ‘2’ and the Cyrillic initial of the Terek Cossacks, which resembles ‘Br’. Light blue was the traditional distinguishing color of the Terek Host. He wears the Order of Vladimir 4th Class with Swords, the Order of St. Anne 4th Class with Swords, a Terek Cossack badge and that of the Novocherkask Cossack School. His handsome weapon is a St. Anne’s Sword ‘for Bravery’ - note the rosette in the pommel. He carries the Cossack nagaika whip.

Warrant Officer, 17th Don Cossack Regiment General Baklanov

The 17th Don Regt. wore on their caps the scroll and death’s-head as a reminder of past glories; they were named for Gen.Yakov Baklanov, a hero of the Crimean War. This veteran pod-khorunji’s extraordinary collection of decorations testifies to his personal bravery and skill at arms: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Classes of the St. George’s Cross, St. George’s Medal 4th Class, Russo-Japanese War medal, 300th Anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Classes of the Sharpshooter’s Badge, and the crossed swords marking proficiency at swordsmanship. His jacket is a non-regulation nagolny potushbok cut to a practical length for riding; it is left in natural sheepskin rather than being covered with fabric. Note the bashlyk bundled around his neck.

(Andrei Karachtchouk)