Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Saber (Trooper)

19th Century, British
Oakeshott Collection, Catalogue Number: OC074

The second Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Saber in The Oakeshott Institute’s collection, this piece is an example of the Trooper variant of the sword. It retains the overall profile of the Officer’s variant, with the broad, curved blade terminating in a wide point. The hilt is still composed of a heavy stirrup guard with steel backstrap, and semicircular langets on either side of the blade.

The most noticeable differences between this weapon and the Officer’s variant are the simpler grip, and more substantial blade towards the tip.

Instead of the more ornate grip seen on the Officer’s Variant, the Trooper’s Variant often had a simple ribbed wooden grip covered in leather. On this particular example, this grip has been covered in heavy leather held in place by two small nails. This completely obscures the normally visible backstrap.

With the shallow fuller terminating several inches from the tip, the foible of the Trooper’s Variant broadens to an even more extreme width than that seen in the Officer’s Variant.

This sword is especially interesting not only due to the unusual addition of  extra leather on the grip, but due to its supposed history as well. This sword was said by Ewart Oakeshott to have been carried at the battle of Waterloo, and clearly bears the mark of the  Percy Tenantry Volunteers on the throat of the scabbard.

This artwork is echoed on the powderhorn paired with this sword, which we will take a look at later this month.