19th century british military


Centrefire Semi-Automatic Pistol with Stock from Germany dated about 1899 on display at the Royal Armouries in Leeds

The Mauser C96 “Broomhandle” had become very fashionable and the Mauser was most advanced and expensive. Such weapons were used by the Boers in South Africa, this one being seized by the Royal Scots Fusiliers.  The wooden holster-stock has been carved with ’R.S. Fusiliers, Boer War, 1899-1900-01-02’ set around a South African Republic coin.

The coin is the Krugerrand named after the man on it, Paul Kruger the third President of the South African Republic and famous for his opposition to the British Empire during the Second Boer War. He was a controversial figure not just for fighting the Empire but also for his treatment of Black Africans in the Republic

Lieutenant Andrew Finucane of the 10th (Prince of Wales’s Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)

By James Northcote, 1811.

From the collection of the National Army Museum.

anonymous asked:

So I just played the Witcher 3 game, and I was marveling at the fighting style Geralt uses. Obviously there are so many differences between that game and realistic swordplay, but the main one I wanted to know about was where you'd store your sword when you're not fighting. I know you've said storing a sword on your back isn't very practical, but what I'm wondering is where you'd store a long sword or a hand-and-a-half sword. Would it still be at the hip? Thanks in advance for the reply!

I love the Witcher 3′s combat system, so you get no arguments from me.

The sword is called a sidearm, you may have heard that term before in reference to handguns. It’s the same, the modern handgun has replaced the sword as a weapon but serves a similar purpose both functionally in combat and culturally. You wear it buckled on your hip.

For a weapon to function, it needs to be in a place that’s easily reached and at the ready. Whether it’s a sword buckled on our back or the staff we left in our room or the pepper spray buried at the bottom of our purse. A weapon doesn’t do us a lot of good if we don’t have access to it.

When you’re trying to come up with ways your character might store or what places on their body they carry their weapons, here’s some simple rules.

1) Accessible

2) Easily drawn

3) Nowhere that hinders

4) Sensible i.e. not annoying

The action of drawing your weapon, whether it is a knife, a gun, or a sword should be one smooth motion that transitions quickly into a defensive stance. If you’re about to be attacked or in process of being attacked then time is a luxury you don’t have.

On to the Witcher:

The Sword’s Path has a great breakdown on The Witcher 3 combat vs HEMA (Historical Martial Arts) fencing. I would give it a look. He talks a lot about the fundamentals of sword combat and how you could use techniques similar to what we see in the Witcher 3 but would actually work. He also does a great job of explaining the fundamentals and logic behind it. He’s got a nice video for beginners interested in HEMA with a great breakdown of the longsword and lots of resources.

I’d also checkout sieniawskifencing, a channel run by Sztuka Krzyżowa dedicated to the Polish fencing discipline called Cross-Cutting, Sabre Cross-Cutting, or Polish Sabre Cross-Cutting. Compare with Scholagladiatoria dueling with what will be probably be the more familiar 19th century British military sabre.

The Witcher 3 is a video game made by Polish developers. The games are loosely based on The Witcher series. The books are written by a Polish author, Andre Sapkowski and are basically the Polish Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. If you ever want to hear Sapkowski get testy about the video games, you can find it. (Read his books, you’ll understand.)

Both draw heavily on Polish history, Polish culture, Polish fairy tales/mythology, and the Polish approach to medieval/renaissance/longsword combat in their design rather than what we see from Western Europe like France, Germany, England, etc. They’re Polish. Sword combat in Western and Eastern Europe is not unified, it varies culture to culture, sometimes a lot within the same culture, and the limitation in HEMA is that its a historical reconstruction based on the sources available. The only documentation we have is from the people who bothered to write it down, and were lucky enough to have their writings survive. So, pointing to a historical text and saying “that’s how this German swordmaster did it” doesn’t help us that much when it comes to looking at Poland.

Geralt’s fighting style is obviously over the top and built on flourishes, but I remember seeing that The Witcher 3′s combat was based off a fencing style or there were fencers who consulted. I unfortunately can’t source it. However, if you look at Polish Sabre Cross-Cutting you may see some move sets that are similar even though they’re performed with a sabre instead of a longsword.

The combat in The Witcher 3 is not quite as far out of reach as you might think. It just needs a little tweaking and less spinning.


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Czapka of the 17th Lancers of the British Army dated to about 1834 on display at the National Army Museum in London

It was in in 1822 the 17th was designated as a Lancer regiment rather than Light Dragoons as they were previously. However it wasn’t until 1823 on their journey back to Britain that they learnt of this. The lance had been used in other armies around the world during the 18th and 19th centuries but not in Britain. However the Duke of York and Elector of Hanover, Prince Frederick was inspired by the Polish Uhlans in Napoleon’s Grande Armee. He even had the Polish cap, the Czapka, introduced as well to the British army. 

Photographs taken by myself

An historic lot belonging to Captain Philo Norton McGiffin, Annapolis legend and founder of the Imperial Chinese Naval Academy

Philo Norton McGiffin, 1860-97, graduated from Annapolis in 1882. His career as a cadet is still remembered there for his practical jokes and ebullient sense of humor. After graduation he served one tour at sea but as the navy was quite small at the time there were only a limited number of commissions available and he did not receive one. Traveling to the Orient, he offered his services to the Imperial Chinese Navy and was given a commission as a lieutenant. He helped set up the Navy Academy in Tianjin and served as a professor there for nine years. At the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War he was assigned to the Northern Fleet of Admiral Tang Ju Chang and commanded the battleship Chen Yuen. At the Battle of the Yalu River in 1894, a disastrous defeat for the Chinese, Captain McGiffin was wounded some 40 times as his ship received over 400 rounds of enemy fire but he was still able to bring her back to port. His severe wounds forced his retirement and return to the U.S. After three years of poor health and facing mental instability and losing his eyesight, he committed suicide in the hospital in New York City.

This is somewhat beyond the usual scope of my blog, but I decided to post it for a few reasons–the lot is just plain cool, the Imperial Chinese Navy Officer’s Sword is based on the British Pattern 1827/46 Naval Officer’s Sword (the pommel is a dragon’s head rather than a lion’s head!), and the sword was made by Wilkinson.

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Uniform of Colonel John Wilkie of the 10th (The Prince of Wale’s Own) Royal Regiment of Light Dragoons (Hussars) dated around 1854 on display at the National Army Museum in London

On 17 April 1855 Wilkes’ unit arrived in the Crimea, having been sent from from India, to replace the cavalry lost in the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava along with the 12th Lancers. In the Crimea they were part of the Siege of Sevastopol and the Battle of Eupatoria in the same year they arrived.

Photographs taken by myself


Corporal’s full dress coatee, 2nd Bombay (European) Light Infantry, c. 1850.

Though made for a regiment in the service of the HEIC, this elegant (if impractical) coat is indicative of the cut of dress worn by the British army which embarked for the Crimea in 1854. The long skirts and ‘winged’ epaulettes are indicative of a member of the Regiment’s Grenadier Company.


Presentation Sword from England dated 1890 on display at the Royal Armouries in Leeds

[Edited, with thanks to @victoriansword]

This cavalry sword was a prize presented by the commanding officer, the Earl of Haddington, to trooper Laird of the Lothian and Berwick Yeomanry Cavalry. The sword is probably from the 1790′s but was presented as a gift in 1890. It is not unknown for older swords to be given as gifts within a regiment.

A depiction of one of the largest military mismatches of the 19th century, as the British navy, consisting of ships built largely of iron and powered by steam, fought in the Opium War of 1842 against the Chinese navy. The Chinese emperor, who had been assured by his advisors that China still held the preeminent technological and economic position that it had held for centuries, spoke before the war of killing British soldiers like “mosquitoes.” The war ended with China having to pay a large indemnity (for the crime of destroying British drug suppliers’ supplies of opiates) to the British and having to open some ports to British trade.