A Württemberg M1817 Cavalry Sabre. Nov 16, 2017 12:38:44 GMT
Post by Uhlan on Nov 16, 2017 12:38:44 GMT
Birth of the House of Württemberg.
After the horrible debacle of Napoleons Russian adventure, out of the many thousands of young jobless second or third sons who had had to leave the old Duchy of Württemberg to become mercenaries like so many before them, only a few survivors made it back home.
The famous and feared Württemberger Cavalry was virtually wiped out and many Infantry regiments did not fare any better.
Formerly a Ducal holding, the ruling Duke Frederic II had been elevated by Napoleon to the status of Elector for services rendered.
The territory was allowed to expand, mostly at the expense of the Bavarian Kingdom.
Map of the Kingdom of Württemberg in 1810.
After the death of the Elector in 1806, King Frederic I came to the throne. He was well aware of the state of Napoleonic affairs and of the looming possibility he and the House of Württemberg might be disposed off, so he switched sides and joined the Allied forces in 1813. He must have been one hell of a shrewed negotiator and diplomat, for he was allowed to retain his title and the new territories after peace was declared.
Realizing that an economy solely based on agrarian efforts had no future, he pushed very hard to get more industry in. This effort was a great success.
He changed the old culture, allowing for more freedom and representation for what rested of the population.
Of course the Army had to be rebuild too and with that came new Cavalry Regiments.
The local Oberndorf Gewehrwerke in Rottweil, in more modern times known as the famous Mauser Werke where the Mauser G98 and 98K were build, got the contract to design and produce a new sabre.
And so the all new, unique and shiny M1817 Light Cavalry sabre saw the light.
The Württemberg M1817 Cavalry sabre.
I see this sabre as an example of the Kings efforts to modernize his struggling State.
To get prototypes tested and after evaluation, build in quantity and in this good quality in such a short time and under far from ideal circumstances, is a testament to outstanding Württemberger entrepreneur and workmanship.
The hilt hearkens back to the French AN IX HC and Prussian M1815 HC pallasch, amongst others.
Edit: The two swords depicted above are Dutch :: The HC M1813 No 1 to the left and the HC M1813 No 2 to the right.
Thanks DeuciemeVoltigeur for pointing this out. (See page 2)
For reference see :: sabels.net/
Its two side bars end or start with the old fashioned French ,, teardrops '',
which in effect are there solely to more than double the surface connecting the bars with the guard.
The lightly tapered oval grip is almost dead straight, but ever so slightly bulging out in the middle. It is deeply ribbed and covered with black lacquered leather.
The grips were not wired.
To stabilize the grip and allow for sufficient spread of effects of shock on impact, the long pommel cap is connected to the thick flat guard plate, which has a minimal thumb rest, by way of a strong, tube like, back strap.
The pommel cap is almost cylindrical and is quite long. It has a thick plateau on top to hold the peen.
The bars are wide and join the thick knuckle bow way before it reaches the pommel cap, with one half of the bow butting up to the cap and the other half going under, joining the tang.
The scabbard is a standard affair, sporting an internal mouth piece held in place with two small screws, which in turn holds the two wooden liners.
Two solid ring mounts and a good beefy drag round off the design.
The steel sheet is about 1.5 mm thick, the norm at the time.
In all its components this is a well build sabre.
I discovered parts of the original mirror like polish on various parts of the hilt, the blade and the scabbard. As I am want to restore my blades to their original state if at all possible, I have tried to emulate the old polish as far as I could do that by hand. Luckily the sabre had only superficial pitting and rust. To try out something new, I used a coarse valve grinding compound mixed with a few drops of oil after the 240 grid. I put some of the ,, mud '' on the steel and started buffing with a piece of 3M brown mat. The experiment worked out so well that I could skip the 400 and 600 grids and follow up with a clean 3M brown mat, a grey mat and coarse, middle and fine steel wool.
I really can recommend valve cleaning compound. It comes in small tubs with coarse on one side and fine on the other and it has not to be very expensive.
The compound lasts a long time, so a small tub goes a long way and it saves much time and sand paper cost.
I let the results speak for themselves.
Cutout in the drag. Another style cue from old French designs.
It now looks much more like it used to do, though the high, chrome like, gloss on the hilt I could not get back again. Anyway, this old sabre is now as clean as it gets with a minimal loss of material.
The design stages of the Württemberg M1817.
At this point it needs to be said that the sabre here presented is the second, improved, version. The first examples had thicker bars and a flat pommel cap without the plateau.
The scabbard also was rather overbuild. It had an external throat re enforcement or mouth piece and it did not have the two ring mounts.
The eyes holding the rings were brazed on small lozenge shaped plateaus, which in turn were brazed to the flat spine of the scabbard.
This ring mount design is a left over from the 18th century where it was quite common. It is not very reliable though. The combination of the small contact area of the plateaus and the thin scabbard walls, the thick part is were the seam is, at the underside where one side of the thin steel plate is folded on top of the other and brazed together, could result in breaking off, either by violent action or from stress, of the thin scabbard wall, resulting in quite large holes. You do not want this to happen during a fight when one has enough to worry about already.
Württemberg M1817 1st. gen.
Württemberg M1817 1st. gen.
Württemberg M1817 1st. gen.
The first prototypes never made it into production. High costs versus expected low return on investment killed them.
I could not find information on the numbers produced.
An example of a first generation M1817 sabre is as hard to find as a straight politician. Really, really, hard.
The second generation Württemberg M1817 too is a very rare bird.
There were not many build and those that survived did hard service after 1859.
More on this in the numbers section.
The old Duchy of Württemberg Dragoons standard.
Compared to, for instance, the almost contemporary French M1822 L.C. , the M1822 Bancal, the M1829 Artillery sabres
and my Dutch Officers M1814 No. 3 , which sabre is nothing more than a slightly customized, made in Solingen, version of the old French AN XI LC model, the Württemberg M1817 looks quite modern. Gone is the curved Montmorency blade, gone is the solitary pommel cap, gone is the old Hussar hilt and gone is any clue of the Württemberg version of the M1811 with its heavy butcher blade and gone too is the maddeningly narrow AN XI LC half basket the Dutch M1814 No. 3 also incorporates.
This Württemberger looks like a version of the Prussian M1811 LC sabre.
It was also used by Saxon and Bavarian Cavalry. And I want one.
As will be noted in the numbers section, the Württemberger design team made short shrift with outdated notions of how a good blade should look like.
To be sure, in general terms it has more of a pallasch build to it. Build for impact, the thrust, yet retaining a relatively slender looking, stiff and only slightly curved blade which is very much able to cut and slice too.
The dept of the curve on my Württemberg blade is only 1.5 cm.
Much less than the dept of curve of the M1822 blade, which is 4 cm on my Troopers sabre, or the 5 cm on the Dutch blade. Where I lose point control with the M1822 and never will be able to use it in the thrust effectively, ( how the hell can I when I do not instinctively know where that darn tip is ), the Württemberger blade is ideal for me. It comes natural, a very important notion in my dictionary of sword business.
It is not for nothing that we in the West developed the straight bladed sword and only much later imported the curved sabre blade as some kind of Eastern novelty.
To me the almost straight blade just fits. It is in the genes. I feel at home.
I can stick this thing in the same hole time after time, so point control is 100%.
The blade may look slender, but with the width being 32 mm, I can cut to my hearts content. When the foible is sharpened this goes both ways. One can also easily run the blade over face or arms, to be sliced like a ham, just as with a ,, real '' sabre.
The balance is right. The weight is right. It gives all the confidence one will ever need. It is fast. It is awesome.
The deeply ribbed, oval, ever so slightly bulging grip gives a secure hold and one does not have to worry about edge alignment. The grip takes care of that. Transition from the hammer grip to the open grip and vice versa is easy, more so because of the roomy half basket, which gives excellent protection in tandem with the flat guard plate.
Where other sabres need some kind of ridge on the pommel cap to stop the hand from slipping off, here there is no need for such hanky panky to gloss over bad design.
Of course one had to train with this weapon, but according to what I read, this had more to do with learning horse based fighting techniques in general than learning to fight with a specific weapon like a sabre first and than learning to fight with the thing from the back of a horse thereafter. As this sabre comes so natural, it should have been easy to wield by many a fresh recruit. This saves time and thus cost per head and real heads too, later on. Ergo, max return on investment.
An important factor if one needs to build new Cavalry on a dime and Cavalry being one of the most expensive outfits in an army to maintain in those days.
The Württemberg M1817 comes as close to the Holy Grail as it gets for a design this early in the race. Heck, the century just started and it looks like they reached the finish already.
And according to the rapport from 1825 by a Herr / Oberst (?) Varnbüler the above is exactly what the design team set out to achieve.
You will find his remarks in the notes under: Der Geschichte der Württembergische Kavalleriesabels M1817.
Otto von Faber du Faur: Panorama der Schlacht von Wörth.
Stamps on this sabre: Hilt: 3 on the thumb rest on the guard and a 3 under the guard.
A H under the guard. Thank God no G on the ricasso of the blade, this G meaning Guss Stahl. Luckily I have a solid old fashioned blade without all of the faults usually associated with early Guss Stahl. This material is better avoided up to, say, after 1850, when things were better understood and developed.
The blade: 3 on the ricasso.
The scabbard is stamped with a C.
As to regimental numbers: There are none, nor were numbers removed as far as I can detect.
This is not unusual. Of the total of 5 privately owned examples I found, 2 are unmarked.
Weight total: 1958 grams.
Weight of scabbard: 800 grams.
Weight of sabre: 1158 grams.
Width of blade: 32 mm.
Thickness of blade: 9 : 6 : 5.5 : 5 : 2.5 mm.
Length of blade: 89 cm.
Depth of curve: 15 mm.
Grip length outside: 15 cm.
Grip length inside: 11 cm.
Foible length: 15 cm.
Length of sabre: 104.5 cm.
POB: 14 cm from the guard.
Length in scabbard: 107.5 cm.
Depth of curve of two contemporaries:
French M1822 LC Troopers: 4 cm.
Dutch Officers M1814 No 3: 5 cm.
According to "Europäische Hieb- und Stichwaffen" von Heinrich Müller & Hartmut Kölling, this sabre was meant to be used by Troopers and Officers alike.
There was no separate Officers model.
This was something new and in my estimate unheard off at the time.
Cavalry personnel was ordered to train with substitutes.
This was done to spare the new sabres for when it really would count.
This order seems to give an impression of how hard times were in Württemberg.
It was in use by the Cavalry Regiments up to 1859 when the M1859 was introduced.
The old M1817 was given to the Train Regiments and there it did service until the end of WWI.
Initially 3951 sabres were handed out. Up to 1859 just 5500 sabres were produced. The Ulahn regiments got theirs only in 1831.
See : www.waffensammler-kuratorium.de/wsbl1817/ws1817ge.html for more info. Please bookmark this site as it gives much more splendid facts on assorted German weaponry.
Thanks to Deutsche Blankwaffen Forum we have some measurements of 2 other privately owned examples and the official Oberndorff specifications too :
Gesamtlänge: keine Angabe
Säbellänge: 1030 mm
Klingenlänge: 884 mm
Klingenbreite: 32 mm
Klingenstärke: 6,5 mm
Pfeilhöhe ca. 19 mm
Gewicht (ohne Scheide): 1050 g
Gesamtlänge: 1072 mm
Säbellänge: 1039 mm
Klingenlänge: 885 mm
Klingenbreite: 32,4 mm
Klingenstärke: 8,7 mm
The latter sabre is unmarked. It has only the G for Gußstahl or Cast Steel on the ricasso.
Official Oberndorff Regulation stats:
Gesamtlänge : 1035 mm
Klingenlänge : 885 mm
Klingenbreite : 32 mm
Pfeilhöhe : 20 mm
Gewicht mit Scheide : 2269 g
Gewicht ohne Scheide: 1130 g
As we can see there is some variation between the numbers here and there, which is to be expected.
Here is a picture of an M1817 next to an M1859.
A variant from circa 1830 with a Prussian style grip.
And an M1817 with an M1859 blade I would like to try out.
This Württemberger is one fine sabre, if we can call it that. A pallash it is not, but one could make the case for naming it a modern version of the old Haudegen concept kitted out with a slightly curved back sword blade.
Anyhow. I am glad this rare sabre found me. Found me, as in that I was totally unaware it even existed and than it just popped up from the screen.
Took me all of 10 minutes to figure out what I was looking at, thanks to the Gallery feature on Deutsches Blankwaffen, see: www.deutsches-blankwaffenforum.de/galerie/lange_seitenwaffen-3.html and laying claim to the darn thing.
Former sabres that qualified for the title of ,, This Is The One'' now have to step back in line. This sabre beats them all.
The sword knot.
I am a knot nerd myself, as in that I consider a sabre without a good knot improper, like a 19th century lady doing the town without a hat.
This sword knot was made from the tassel from a reproduction Napoleonic Infantry knot combined with the leather strap and slide from an old French Third Republic Cavalry knot.
Though not 100% like the original, it comes quite close, as you can observe in the following pictures.
Authentic early Württemberger knots of this type are practically non existent and if found, I guarantee would cost more than one has to pay for a good AN IX / AN XIII pallasch.
Pakistani Napoleonic knots can be bought all over the place. Most are quite well made for the price. They cost next to nothing compared to the originals, so they make good project material. WKC, Armae and Empire Costume have them, but sell them at a premium. Do not be fooled, they all come from the same source. Only the assortment may vary per site. WKC for instance has some interesting Austrian knots, but I have seen those on Ebay too. It is a question of digging.
Der Geschichte der Württembergische Kavalleriesabels M1817: www.waffensammler-kuratorium.de/wsbl1817/ws1817ge.html
Württemberg in 1812: Letters from the Crown Prince to his father,June - August 1812:
Napoleons foreign Infantry: napoleonistyka.atspace.com/infantry_Napoleon_3.htm
Order of Battle of the French Invasion of Russia:
The Ebner uniform plates of the Württemberg Army in 1807:
History of Ulanen-Regiment "König Wilhelm I." (2. Württembergisches) Nr. 20) :
The Army of Württemberg in the Napoleonic Wars:
Herzog Württemberg Dragoons:
The Battle of la Fere Champenoise 1814:
Plates by Leo Ignaz von Stadlinger:
List of Imperial German Cavalry Regiments:
Historical Flags of our ancestors:
Total War Center:
Pinos Bars and Bowles:
Der Württembergische Kavalleriesabel M1817: