British 1796 P Heavy Cavalry Sabre (Waterloo
A Dawes made 1796 pattern British heavy cavalry trooper's sabre
with 95%+ Waterloo Provenance.
Dawes modèle britannique fait 1796 soldat de la cavalerie
lourde sabre avec 95% + Provenance Waterloo.
This 1796 Pattern heavy cavalry sabre made by Dawes of Birmingham
and scabbard is 95% or greater certain to have come from the Battle
of Waterloo. Justification / reasoning;
1) I bought this sword at a general auction in England. The auction
house did not know what it was; they reported to me it came from
a deceased's estate. So many swords proclaiming to come from Waterloo
are not and have been engineered to appear that way by unscrupulous
dealers. However, dealers always make sure their items are well
described and would ensure such an item as this was sold by a militaria
auction house (who are not the experts they always claim to be).
So this was not a dealer item.
2) The blade is not rusted (except a little near the hilt where
enough gap exists from the scabbard). The rusting to the hilt and
scabbard is commensurate. The scabbard is not a more recent addition
/ replacement; they have been together for many years.
3) The troop and trooper markings on the hilt and scabbard are
genuine. It is almost impossible to reproduce the process of rust
aging, so the markings are authentic.
4) The blade is marked to Dawes (Birmingham) on the spine (together
with the relevant two "B" or bend test marks) dating the
sabre's manufacture to around 1802. The blade also has the correct
Crown with arrow inspection mark (see Robson's Swords of the British
Army plate 14 on page 23), which means it was used by a regular
trooper, not a trooper with the yeomanry (reserve) cavalry.
5) The blade point has been converted to a spear point. The vast
majority of 1796 P HC sabres were ground down to a spear point just
before Waterloo. However, crucially, the langets have not been removed
and / or the disc guard cut back / folded down as happened soon
after Waterloo. Consequently, this sabre ceased to be in active
service at or just after Waterloo.
6) The troop and trooper numbers are different on the sabre's hilt
and the scabbard. The hilt shows trooper 13 of B troop, the scabbard
trooper 64 of E troop; the later proving it was from a large main
front line regiment. With the British heavy cavalry regiments suffering
up to 90% casualty rates, many of their sabres lay strewn across
the battlefield. When they were collected up afterwards, government
owned swords such as this one were placed in the nearest available
correct also fallen scabbard without reference to the troop / trooper
7) Because the troop / trooper numbers were never corrected, the
sword was not put back into service. As the British heavy cavalry
regiments took such massive casualties, it took regiments involved
in Waterloo a long time after to come back up to strength. Many
swords with damage were replaced, plus this pattern of sword was
superceded 6 years after Waterloo.
8) This 1796 has some damage to the cutting edge near the tip;
one nick and some grinding wear, commensurate with carving down
infantry as the Union Brigade (which this sabre likely served) did.
The Household Brigade, the other heavy cavalry brigade at Waterloo,
were involved mostly against French Cavalry and the damage to their
weapons would therefore normally be different. Union Brigade swords
mostly bearing signs of hacking / carving up infantry, Household
Brigade full on thrusting damage.
I have no doubt in my mind this sword comes from the Battle of
Waterloo, the 5% stated doubt is simply margin of error as very
few swords of that time were regiment marked, so I can not state
it as such with 100% certainty.
The grip has lost 75% of the leather covering and the wood base
has one or two worm holes; the grip could be replaced, left as it
is or augmented with a black silicone paste. The blade is in good
order except for battle damage as noted before. The blade is a little
loose in the hilt but this can be easily corrected by simply pushing
two slivers of wood down the side of the blade into the grip as
most dealers would do and say no more on; I would prefer to keep
the sabre as it is. The scabbard is generally good with some rider
dents to the shoe / drag area as to be expected, plus has lost one
throat screw. There is an unusual dent to the front of the scabbard
near to throat which I presume is battle damage. The sabre sheathes
very well. Further photographs available upon request.