http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Jacob ... ny_officer)
Courtesy of Jonathan Hopkins:
From 'The views and opinions of Brigadier-General John Jacob', by John Jacob, collected and edited by Lewis Pelly:
It is no mistake to arm cavalry sepoys with good cutting swords of one uniform pattern. The English sword—not the Government regulation iron, but a weapon made in England, of good steel, and of proper shape—is infinitely better than any Eastern blade. All the native soldiers prefer it, and even my wild Beloochees are all begging to be allowed to buy these swords at any price. The things cut of themselves, however unskillfully handled.
The steel scabbard is best, if it have a complete wooden scabbard inside it,—a construction, however, which I have never yet been able to persuade any English maker to adopt or to understand. They always leave the wood open, or imperfectly closed at the edge, where it is wanted most, and put a lot of screws and iron springs about the mouth of the scabbard, which totally defeat the object of the wooden lining. The scabbards of the Sind Horse are of wood and leather, made as strong as may be ; but still they wear out too fast, and break too often to please me. My own swords have metal scabbards, made large purposely, and lined with complete wooden scabbards, in this country, the bell-mouth being formed of wood. These scabbards are best of all.
Great mistakes exist regarding the respective powers of the edges and points of swords. On foot, or when moving slowly, it is unnecessary to argue in favour of the point of the fencer—its superiority is evident to all. But on horseback, the speed of the horse prevents the swordsman from drawing back his arm with sufficient rapidity after a homethrust. So that if going at speed, as every cavalry man ought to be in attacking, his sword, after passing through his enemy, is very liable to be knocked out of his hand, the weapon running up to the hilt, and then, of course, violently stopping. This has occurred to myself, when I should have been disarmed had not the sword been buckled to my wrist with a very strong leather strap. The same thing must have occurred to others. Such a tremendous twist, too, will certainly break any but a very first-rate blade, and is not a fair trial for a good sword. Wherefore, for cavalry soldiers, curved cutting blades are best. Straight swords will not cut, save in skillful hands; curved blades cut fearfully, with very little or no skill on the part of the soldier. —(1854.)
The Point And Cut.
Experience in real fight shows that, for horse soldiers, the cut is far more deadly and effective in every way than the point of the sword.
The straight sword, and the use of its point, are far more formidable than the cutting sword in the hands of men on foot, and I was myself strongly prejudiced in their favour for use on horseback also, until many trials in the field quite convinced me of the contrary.
On horseback, when moving at a rapid pace, as the cavalry soldier ought always to be in attacking, the arm, after a home-thrust, cannot be drawn back sufficiently quickly; the speed of the horse carries all forward with great velocity, and the blade runs up to the hilt, or breaks, before it can be withdrawn.
I have had my own sword forcibly struck from my hand in this manner, the hilt striking with the greatest violence against a man's breast after the blade had passed through his body. The blade happened to be very good and strong, and the hilt was attached to my wrist by a stout leather strap: neither gave way; but, as the horse passed on at speed, the body of the tall heavy man who had assailed me was turned completely round and over by the blade of the sword in it, before the weapon could free itself.
The violence of the shock, and the concurrent circumstances, attending this and hundreds of other somewhat similar circumstances, perfectly convince me that on such occasions the chances are ten to one that the sword will break or the cavalry soldier be torn from his seat; or both these accidents may occur.
I have for long past had not a doubt but that the cutting sword is by far the most formidable weapon for the hands of the cavalry soldier.
The old curved dragoon sabre is about its best form: these blades, made of the best English cast steel, mounted with steel basket-hilts, with the scabbards lined with a complete scabbard of wood, appear to me to be the most perfect weapons possible.
The native soldiers much prefer them to any eastern blade whatever, and I can imagine nothing more effective.
I have never used any sword exercise with the men of the Sind Irregular Horse, thinking that it is not required; but I have myself witnessed very many instances of the terrible power of their cutting weapons, and those of the enemy.
Two remarkable instances occur to me, which it may be well to mention.
At the battle of Meanee, a well mounted Belooch warrior was flourishing his sword, and challenging all comers. A sowar of the Sind Irregular Horse rode at him at speed, and in an instant cut the man's head off at one blow. In the same battle, a sowar of the Sind Irregular Horse, riding hard at the man opposed to him,—a stout, able-bodied Belooch on foot, armed with sword and shield,—the latter was knocked violently down by the horse's shoulder; but as he lay on his back on the ground, the Belooch warrior struck upwards so violent a blow with his heavy curved blade, that the sword cut completely through both branches of the under jaw of the sowar's horse ; and the front part of the animal's lower jaw, with all its incisor teeth, remained hanging by a piece of skin only.
The force of this blow appeared to me so extraordinary, that I for long preserved the skull of the horse on which it took effect.
In my opinion, it would be of very great advantage to replace the straight swords at present in use by the broad curved cutting blade, like those now used by the Sind Irregular Horse.—(1854.)
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The old English dragoon sabre was none other than the 1796 light cavalry sabre.