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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > 18th Century Cavalry Sabers on Foot Reply to topic
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Travis McLeod

Joined: 15 Sep 2017

Posts: 19

PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2017 12:07 am    Post subject: 18th Century Cavalry Sabers on Foot         Reply with quote

Does anyone know quite how effective 18th century cavalry sabers were when used on foot? By cavalry sabers, I mean any saber that was designed with horseback in mind first, typically longer and heavier than their infantry counterparts.

I'd assume that lighter infantry swords had to be more effective on foot since that was there intended purpose, but I'm having a hard time finding a good source to give me an idea how big of a gap the two had.

Any thoughts or references appreciated!
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Glen A Cleeton

Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,844

PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2017 4:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is not that huge a difference in weight between a sabre with a 32" blade vs a 27" blade. A century later sees some heavier sabres but a bigger difference would be between the larger cavalry straight pallasch vs the infantry and cavalry sabres. While swords afoot tended to be a good bit shorter, the principle use with a sabre remains much the same. A good number of infantry/naval swords were straight, so one gets to the timeless debate of cut vs thrust. A for instance would be the French mid century going from a short straight blade for the infantry, to a slightly curved blade. Many cutlasses remaining straight into the 20th century, while some adopting a slightly curved blade. Still, the principles remain much the same. So, kind of full circle in my reply going back to the larger, longer pallasch vs a sabre and that 18th century sabres were simply not that ungainly.

The bigger/heavier sabres of the 19th century were trying to achieve two tactical roles in one, with pistols and carbines becoming primary melee weapons of the cavalry. For the infantry trooper, the move to bayonets. What replaces line cavalry charges of horse vs pike and mobile infantry devolves into trench warfare to avoid artillery and bullets with forays of mounted infantry.

War is hell, regardless of what one held.


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