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Napoleonic Imperial Guard Marine Officer's Sword - USS182

Napoleonic Imperial Guard Marine Officer

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Overall Length: 33 5/8'' Blade: 27 3/4''
Retail Price:$332.50
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Blade: EN9 High Carbon Steel
Weight: 2 lb 4 oz
Edge:  Unsharpened
P.O.B.: 6''
Thickness: 6.8 mm - 2.4 mm
Width: 39.3 mm
Grip Length: 6''
Pommel: Peened

As the inscription the blade and the prominent anchor on the hilt attest, this sword with a wide, cutlass-like blade is a sword for a member of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard Marines - the ‘’Marins de la Garde Imperiale’’ (Sailors of the Imperial Guard).

The replica sword has blade is of tempered EN9 high carbon steel and is inscribed on both sides with an anchor framed placard of the ‘’Garde Imperiale’’. The base of the blade spine bears the signature of the famed Klingenthal manufactory, which produced a great many of the blades borne by Napoleon’s Grande Armée.

The hilt with a knuckle bar is of brass and the grip is of black leather, inlaid with twisted wire of brass. The sword scabbard is of leather with brass fittings, including two brass hanging rings.

Although not a cutlass, the wide blade of this saber is clearly intended to slice and cut with grievous intent whilst being able to parry the hacks of the equally wide-bladed cutlasses it would likely be facing at sea.

Unlike a dedicated branch of the military like the Marines of the United Kingdom or the United States, the French Marines were army infantrymen who were billeted to serve as fighting men aboard the vessels of the French Navy. At the apex of Napoleon’s grand fleet, the ‘’Matelots des Bataillons de la Marine Impériale’’ could count about 32,000 men in its ranks. Though most were shipboard infantry and sharpshooters there was also an Marine artillery division, who manned the guns of French naval batteries and forts.

While much of the close-quarters fighting of a boarding action in the Napoleonic Era would be carried out by sailors given arms doled out from shipboard armories just before action commenced there was a recognition among most major navies of the time to post a dedicated, professional core of Marine infantry to spearhead an attack or a spirited defense. Most of the sailors would have at least a rudimentary grip on the use of their cutlasses, boarding axes and pikes from their drills, but none could be expected to fight with the skill and professionalism of a Marine detachment. Many navies screened their infantry for sharpshooters to post aboard ships as Marines, as they could snipe at the crew of an opposing vessel as they drew within rifle range. The great Admiral Nelson himself was felled by a musket ball from one such sharpshooter at Trafalgar.

When not in an action the Marines were often integral to keeping order on a ship full of seedy characters; should a sailor fall afoul of his superiors, it could be certain that the Marines would be on hand to clap him in irons.

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