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French / Viennese 22nd Battle Regiment Drummer's Sword, for sale

In good condition, a British war trophy of Napoleon's 22e Regiment d'Infanterie Ligne, from the Siege of San Sebastián 7 July to 8 September 1813. A "glaive" sword made circa 1805.

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Very, very rare: With "22" regimental designation below 1st Empire style lichteur badge, this Napoleonic French / Viennese (Austrian) infantry drummer's sword would have seen battle against the British (at Malta and Egypt), the Netherlands, Austria and Prussia before seeing final battle against the British, Portuguese and Spanish armies in the Peninsular War. We bought it from England. In September 1813, the Viennese 22nd Battle Regiment (22e Regiment d'Infanterie Legere) finally surrendered at the Siege of San Sebastián. Because the French fought with great skill and honour, the allied armies allowed the French to march out of San Sebastián in uniform, carrying shouldered weapons and to the beat of their own drums, before surrendering their weapons (the French officers were allowed to keep their swords, but not so the servicemen). This is probably the only one, or one of four such swords maximum made with the regimental designation. It is therefore an exceptionally rare sword of great historical significance and with unquestionable provenance (further notes at end of page). It may even have been worn by the Imperial French / Austrian drummer who lead the French forces out of San Sebastián!

The 19 3/4 inch blade is in aged (slight pitting spots which only adds to the item as far as we are concerned) and firm in the hilt, the hilt still good but with some scuffs, etc. One of the few swords surrendered with honour during the Napoleonic Wars. Look, don't quibble, you are never going to be able to buy another at any price! We must be crazy for selling it as low as £1500. Please quote item reference O04. Further / full sized images available upon request. Box 1377-0.8 (1.253)

Further notes / diligence: The sword type is called a "Glaive". The blade is of the type made circa 1790 to 1810. The lions head pommel is often associated with Swiss Sapeur Regiments (engineers assigned primarily to artillery fortification duties) but there were only 4 (1-4), so clearly not one of the sapeur regiments, and lions head glaives are not associated with other French empire sapeur regiments. The lichter badge on the hilt is often associated with a) The French First Empire (1804–1814) and b) Sapeurs of the French Guarde Nationale / Imperial, but it also appears on other swords especially related to Germanic regiments (Helvetic Swiss and Austrian), as well as officer's dress / court swords generally. Other styles of glaives are also associated with artillery regiment gunners but, again, not of this style and there was no 22nd artillery regiment anyway. Prior to adoption of the briquet sabre circa 1800 (earlier for grenadiers), infantrymen often carried glaives. If you read books such as “Swords Around a Throne” by John R. Elting, you will hear reference given to Napoleonic infantry regiment field musicians of this period carrying the standard infantryman briquet (which has a curved blade), but to field bandsmen carrying a straight sword. Given the changing times and variance / changes in swords carried by the French 1800 onwards, plus the dates involved for certain aspects of this sword, our conclusion is that this can only be as described, particularly because of the 22 regimental designation to and general lion's head design of the hilt, and the 1st Empire period lichter. It may well have been the sword carried by the tambour-major, the head drummer, whose rank and status was above all other bandsmen / drummers, and who were noted for their unique position and of some consequence, a member of the regimental staff, ranking between senior NCO's and junior officers.

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