1803 Pattern Infantry Sword with Battle Honours?

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1803 Pattern Infantry Sword with Battle Honours?

Postby Brimage » Thu May 11, 2017 7:33 am

Hi Guys

Recent acquisition that I am hoping you can assist me with.

British 1803 Infantry Sword
Overall Length: 36 ¼” 92 cm in scabbard 36” 91.4 cm sword only
Blade length: 31” 89 cm
Blade widest point: 1 2/16” 2.8 cm
Hilt widest point: 5” 12.7 cm
Inside grip length: 3 ½” 8.9 cm

Marks, etc.: ROYAL CYPHER & flaming bomb motif, etched with acanthus leaves & 8 battle honours including Waterloo, Vimera, Talavera, Busaco, Christoval, Ciudad Rodrigo Vittoria & Peninsula; obverse side has ROYAL CYPHER, Regimental Sphinx & 8 battle honours including Egypt, Pampeluna, Pyrenees, Nivelles, Goriz, Orthes, Toulouse & Badajoz;
Description

BRITISH 1803 PATT INFANTRY OFFICER'S SWORD
30½" Pipe back blade, ROYAL CYPHER & flaming bomb motif, etched with acanthus leaves & 8 battle honours including Waterloo, Vimera, Talavera, Busaco, Christoval, Ciudad Rodrigo Vittoria & Peninsula; obverse side has ROYAL CYPHER, Regimental Sphinx & 8 battle honours including Egypt, Pampeluna, Pyrenees, Nivelles, Goriz, Orthes, Toulouse & Badajoz. No visible maker; standard pattern hilt with Lion's head pommel & guard incorporating the ROYAL CYPHER & retaining 65% gilt finish; fish skin grips bound with woven silver wire; complete with correct brass mounted black leather scabbard. Scabbard has unusual ring feature to all three mounts.

The majority of the battle honors have been easy to identify, however three are a mystery, Pampeluna, Goriz and Christoval.

Blade etching
Royal Cypher
& Regimental Sphinx Flaming Bomb Motif
EGYPT 1801 WATERLOO 1815
PAMPELUNA VIMIERA 1808
PYRENEES 1813 TALAVERA 1809
NIVELLES 1813 BUSACO 1810
GORIZ CHRISTOVAl
ORTHES 1814 CIUDAD RODRIGO 1812
TOULOUSE 1814 VITTORIA 1813
BADAJOZ 1812 PENINSULA 1809-14

I have accepted that I will never identify the swords owner but would appreciate any assistance with regard to the regiment? Does the combination of the flaming bomb and Sphinx indicate a particular regiment?

The blade etching is particularly fine and extends for 2/3rd of the blade.

Cheers Cathey and Rex
Attachments
_UK-Infantry c1803-Officer's Etched Blade Battle Honours.jpg
aDSC_7761.JPG
aDSC_7706.JPG
aDSC_7555.JPG
aDSC_7546.JPG
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Brimage
 
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Re: 1803 Pattern Infantry Sword with Battle Honours?

Postby Bryce » Thu May 11, 2017 11:33 am

G'day Cathey,

I was hoping this sword would show up. I was the under bidder. I am glad it went to a good home.

The battle honours don't coincide with any particular regiment, so are likely to be the owner's personal battle honours. A likely contender for the owner is Lt James Butler of the 40th foot. He was present with the 40th for all of the battles listed except for Goriz (Garris) where he was present with the 18th Portuguese regiment.

Christoval likely refers to the Fort of St Christoval at Badajoz. Butler was shot in the leg defending against a French sortie from the fort at the first siege of Badajoz in 1811. He was severely wounded at the storming of Badajoz in 1812 and was still recovering when Salamanca was fought which explains why this battle honour isn't on the blade.

Pampeluna probably refers to a battle the 40th fought near Pampeluna during the Pyrenees campaign. The 40th held a hill almost single handed against a large French force after two Spanish regiments fled. The commanding officer referred to this as "The action in front of Pampeluna".

Butler served with the Grenadier company for at least part of the Peninsular War which would explain the grenade on the blade. The official regimental Battle honours for the 40th up to 1825 were "Egypt, Peninsular and Waterloo". Badajoz wasn't a regimental battle honour before this, but the fact it was so significant for Butler may explain its position on the blade out of chronological order.

Butler wasn't at Waterloo, but he was with the 40th over there? Maybe he was sick?

Afterwards, Butler went with the 40th to Australia then to India, He returned to Australia later where he died. This may explain how the sword came to be in Australia.

If you ever need to free up some wall space, give me a yell.

Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: 1803 Pattern Infantry Sword with Battle Honours?

Postby Richard » Thu May 11, 2017 4:34 pm

Very nice work Bryce, how did you manage to dig all that up?
Richard
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Re: 1803 Pattern Infantry Sword with Battle Honours?

Postby Bryce » Thu May 11, 2017 9:27 pm

G'day Richard,

Christoval was the key. Only the 40th and some volunteers from the 51st and 85th seem to have been engaged at St Christoval in 1811. The volunteers from the 51st and 85th mounted two unsuccessful attempts to Capture the fort.

Ciudad Rodrigo isn't an official battle honour of the 40th regiment. The 40th were there and aided in the capture of the city by capturing a convent outside of the walls. The CO of the regiment wrote to Wellington requesting the 40th be given this battle honour. Wellington declined, based on the fact the 40th didn't participate in the actual storming of the city.

It is entirely possible that some other individual, hopped between a few regiments to have been at these battles as well, but Butler is a good contender.

Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: 1803 Pattern Infantry Sword with Battle Honours?

Postby Brimage » Thu May 11, 2017 11:05 pm

Hi Bryce

Thank you so much for filling in the gaps. The Owner of Australian Antique Auctions is a friend and brought the sword over to tempt us when he was in Adelaide having dinner at our place in October 2016, so it has been a long anxious wait for the auction day to finally arrive. I am particularly partial to 1803's, Rex is more a 1796 man and as we drove over eight hours to get to the auction I was determined to bring it home. I think you are spot on that the names on the blade where important to an individual and not necessarily battle honors. I have another sword that has a mix of battle honors from two regiments, one of which the chap did not actually serve in.

Sorry but I think I will be buried with this one, not sure Rex would part with it either.

Thanks again so much for your help.

Cheers

Cathey and Rex
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Re: 1803 Pattern Infantry Sword with Battle Honours?

Postby Bryce » Mon May 15, 2017 6:44 am

G'day Cathey and Rex,

This sword has an interesting blade. It is similar to the 1822 pattern infantry officer's blade except it has a fuller. I guess you could call it a "transitional 1822 pattern ". I imagine he had it made between 1817 and 1821 after he returned from France.

Cheers,

Bryce
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