A 1790 Pattern French Grenadier's or Voltiguer's Sabre,Recovered From The Battlesite And Used at Waterloo
From the Cotton Collection, in the Hotel du Musee, at Waterloo, of swords recovered and used at the Battle of Waterloo.
It is a model 1790 grenadier sabre, a simplified version of the model 1767. In fact, the handle - guard assembly is in a single block for greater strength and faster manufacturing. The 1767 sabre has an assembled hilt and guard. The blades are the same.
The 1790 retains the enormous riveting button of its ancestor, but has lost the earpieces at the bottom of the handle.
The 1790 sabre was used until the end of the French Empire in 1815, and excavations in the Smolensk region revealed several dating back to the battle of August 1812.
In nice condition for age, in used combat condition, bright blade with some pitting. We have two illustrations of original 24th Voltiguers and 24th Grenadiers painted in 1807 for Major Otto of Baden, that appear on the renown Otto Manuscript. Both of those men are wearing this very pattern of sword.
In 1804, each French Line (Ligne) and Light (Légère) infantry battalion was ordered to create one company of ninety of the best shots who would serve as elite skirmishers. The voltigeurs were skilled at sharpshooting and received specific training in marksmanship, using cover and taking the initiative.
During Napoleon's 1815 return from exile, the Old Guard was reformed,16 and fought at the Battle of Waterloo, where the 2e Regiment de Grenadiers-à-Pied was pivotal in the defense of the village of Plancenoit against the Prussians.1718 The 1er Regiment, charged with protecting the field position around Napoleon himself, served as a rear guard after the failure of the attack of the Middle Guard on the British center.19 The Old Guard cavalry was involved in the unsuccessful midday charges against the British infantry, and was unavailable at the battle's decisive moments.
In August 1815, Louis XVIII ordered the Imperial Guard abolished. By December, all the Old Guard regiments were disbanded. Ex-guardsmen ended up in a variety of places after their units' disbandment. Some re-enlisted into the king's army but most lived out their lives watched with suspicion by Bourbon police. When Napoleon's body was returned to France in 1840, many of the surviving Old Guard paraded in threadbare uniforms.
During the Battle of Waterloo the Voltigeurs, along with the Tirailleurs, conducted a tenacious defense of the town of Plancenoit against a major Prussian flanking attack. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Young Guard, reinforced by some battalions of Old Guard Grenadiers, held the town until the defeat of the Middle Guard attack on the allied centre caused the army to collapse.
After the abdication of Napoleon and the Second Restoration of the Bourbon kings, the surviving regiments of Voltigeurs, along with the remnants of the entire Imperial Guard, were disbanded.
The Cotton Collection, the full weapons, militaria, and recovered artifact display, from the battlefield, housed at the Hotel du Musee at Waterloo, owned first by Edward Cotton, then by his descendant family, was sold by auction in 1909.
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