Major-General Sir Denis Pack K.C.B's Sword,
Waterloo Provenance, Sold
This is 100% one of Major-General Sir Denis Pack K.C.B's military
campaign Swords, it is the one he is said by his family to have
worn at Waterloo (Denis Pack was one of the most important allied
generals at Waterloo).
If you do not know who Major-General Sir Denis Pack was or how
important he was at several battles most notably Waterloo, an excellent
summary exists here: Denis
Facts / Provenance
This sword came from Christies, London. I have written statements
from them the sword is known to have come from the Pack family home,
that it was the property of Major-General Sir Denis Pack.
This "pattern" (type, model) of sword was worn by British
army general staff from 1803 to 1816 (see: Robson's Swords of the
British Army). I purchased two swords from Christies which have
both been period marked to Denis Pack after the event (his name
was added after). The markings were done by Denis Pack's family
after the fact, after his death. The markings on the two swords
I bought have clearly been done by the same engraver (not least
as the style is the same and because he spelt "Dennis"
with two n's, not one). These engraving / spelling errors are typical
of the early-mid 19th Century and actually a very good sign of authenticity.
The other sabre I bought of his from Christies was a 1796 Pattern
British infantry officer's sword, again "incorrectly"
marked, this time to "Captain Dennis Pack 5th Drgn Guards";
Dragoon Guards are cavalry, not infantry (see: Lt
Col Denis Packs Infantry Officer's Sword). Denis Pack served
with both the 4th and 5th Dragoon Guards until the 6th December
1800 when he took up his appointment as Lieutenant-Colonel of the
71th Highlanders. This fact is important as it shows the Pack family
marked that sword according to the receipt he received when he ordered
it (the sword cutler record would show Denis Pack's current rank
/ status / regiment prior to his official promotion and / or transfer).
His family engraved the swords retrospectively in his memory, in
the other sword's case without knowing they were marking an infantry
sword to a cavalry regiment, they simply marked the swords according
to what they knew were Denis Pack's rank and regiment at the time.
Had this been done outside the Pack family in more recent times,
it is wholly unlikely such mistakes would / could have been made.
This provenance is important for this particular sword, to place
it at Waterloo, as the inscription is "Sir Dennis Pack";
Denis Pack was knighted for his heroic efforts during the Peninsula
War; this sword therefore was used after his time on the Iberian
Peninsula. This sword also critically is in a steel field scabbard;
it is a sword bought by General Pack to be worn on a battlefield.
Given there were no other swords from the Pack residence which could
be a contender for the one he held at Waterloo, this one has to
be the one carried by him on that most important day in British
The blade is typical of officer's fighting swords; it clearly has
been made for potential combat use, not for show. This type of blade,
most likely one from JJ Runkel, you will often find on 1798 pattern
Scottish infantry officer basket hilted broadswords. Which makes
perfect sense given Denis Pack was Lieutenant Colonel of the 71st
Highland Light Infantry in 1800 when he likely bought this sword.
I know the blade is original a) because it fits the period scabbard
so well and b) because the scabbard has a repair to it; if the blade
had been damaged and replaced, the original scabbard would not have
fit so well and they would of course have replaced the scabbard
at the same time. The blade's construction with the small single
fuller and bulbous form is commensurate with 1800. Given general
staff swords were regulated (a single design mandated) after Waterloo
and this boat shell pattern is not the post-Waterloo approved pattern
(see Robson), the sword dates from / was almost certainly in use
from 1800 to 1815.
So 99% I can state hand on heart this sword was the one worn by
Major-General Sir Denis Pack K.C.B. during the 100 Days War, at
Copies of statements (including emails) from Christies London verfiying
this is Major-General Sir Denis Pack's sword can be made available
to serious purchase enquirers.
The sword is in generally very good condition (damage / repair
to scabbard previously noted). The hilt's gilt is worn / tired (can
be regilted - happy to provide details of specialist company who
can do this for you). The grip is original and good; for me to hold
the same grip which probably has particles of Pack's skin, sweat
and perhaps even blood (he was wounded many times during the 100
Days War as he commanded from the front line) in its crevices makes
holding it even more evocative. The blade is in very good order
and firm in the hilt.
The price for this sword is £xxx (too late - now sold - original
sales price divulged for small fee). Further / full sized photos
/ further information available upon request. Item reference number
314 (42). Denis Pack was also awarded the Portuguese Military Order
of the Tower and Sword, Knight of the Imperial Russian Order of
Wladimer, and of the Imperial Austrian Order of Maria Theresa for
his bravery and military victories over the French Imperial Army.
You simply do not get an opportunity of a sword like this from such
an important general every day.