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.
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.