19thC British Infantry Sabre

sabres

Brief Summary

In the 19th century, in Britain, there was a renewed interest in the infantry sabre as a battlefield weapon. Britain was expanding its empire into territories in which melee weapons were still used, therefore the need for better close quarters weapons and training increased. Furthermore the sabre was increasing in prominence as a fencing weapon alongside foil. More and more fencing schools added the sabre to their curriculums.

The British infantry sabre is a one handed weapon. The blades are either straight or slightly curved, with one edge, but sometimes a part of the back edge near the point is also sharp. The hand is protected by a knuckle bow and a shell, made out of brass or steel. It usually weighs between 800-1100g.

There are several treatises describing fencing with the British infantry sabre, which allow us to reconstruct the system by using modern training methods and equipment.


Main Sources

- Henry Charles Angelo. Infantry Sword Exercise, 1845.
- Richard Francis Burton. A New System of Sword Exercise for Infantry, 1876.
- John Musgrave Waite. Lessons in sabre, singlestick, sabre & bayonet, and sword feats, 1880.
- Alfred Hutton. Cold Steel, A Practical Treatise on the Sabre, 1889.


Equipment

To begin practicing this discipline in the Academy of Historical Arts, you will need the following items:

- synthetic broadsword
- fencing mask
- thin gloves

The links will take you to the appropriate pages on the Corsair's Wares website, where you may purchase the necessary equipment. Buying through Corsair's Wares puts money back into the Academy of Historical Arts so that we can further our educational activities.


Protective Gear Minimum Requirements

According to the AHA Health and Safety Policy, these are the current minimum requirements to engage in activities safely for this discipline. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory, items marked in italics are recommended. Most of these items are available through Corsair's Wares; buying through Corsair's Wares puts money back into the Academy of Historical Arts so that we can further our educational activities.

- drilling with wooden/synthetic swords
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Head: back of head protection (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: padded jacket or gambeson (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)
Arms: forearm & elbow protection (recommended)
Hands: thin or preferably well padded gloves (recommended)
Legs: knee & shin guards (recommended)

- sparring with wooden/synthetic swords
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
* Hands: well padded gloves
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Head: back of head protection (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: padded jacket or gambeson (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)
Arms: forearm & elbow protection (recommended)
Legs: knee & shin guards (recommended)

- drilling with steel swords
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Head: back of head protection (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: padded jacket or gambeson (recommended)
Torso: 350N or preferably 800N rated underplastron (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)
Arms: forearm & elbow protection (recommended)
Hands: thin or preferably well padded gloves (recommended)
Legs: knee & shin guards (recommended)

- sparring with steel swords
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
* Head: back of head protection
* Torso: padded jacket or gambeson
* Hands: well padded gloves
* Legs: knee & shin guards
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: 350N or preferably 800N rated underplastron (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)
Arms: forearm & elbow protection (recommended)


We have gone to great lengths to ensure that we do not mandate and price people out of the activity. It should always be possible to participate in training, even if only to a lesser degree of intensity. Obviously the more intense and less safe the activity becomes, the more protective gear is necessary to mitigate the risk of harm. You are always welcome to wear more protective gear than the minimum requirements, we will never tell you to remove protective gear (unless it poses a risk to yourself or other participants, for whatever reason).


Useful Resources

book cover
(More information about this book and where you can purchase it.)
Farrell, Keith. Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick. Glasgow: Fallen Rook Publishing, October 2014. ISBN 978-0-9926735-1-2.

book cover
(More information about this book and where you can purchase it.)
Roworth, Charles; Ben Kerr and Keith Farrell (eds.). The Art of Defence on Foot, 1798. Glasgow: Fallen Rook Publishing, October 2014. ISBN 978-0-9926735-2-9.

book cover
(More information about this book and where you can purchase it.)
Angelo, Henry; Ben Kerr and Keith Farrell (eds.). The Guards and Lessons of the Highland Broadsword, 1799. Glasgow: Fallen Rook Publishing, October 2014. ISBN 978-0-9926735-3-6.

book cover
(More information about this book and where you can purchase it.)
Grant, James; Keith Farrell (ed.). Legends of the Black Watch. Glasgow: Fallen Rook Publishing, April 2015. ISBN 978-0-9926735-7-4.

For a comprehensive list of treatises, transcriptions and translations, there is no better resource than the Wiktenauer: http://www.wiktenauer.com/