Napoleons Hussars were among his most famous and fabulous troops – and they knew it. The Hussars were the most dashing of the cavalry and looked down upon other cavalry branches with styled self-assurance and contempt. With the most ostentatious, flamboyant uniforms in the army and a cavalier panache that could manifest into sheer recklessness, these light cavalrymen made a point of living on the edge. Napoleon once remarked that he would be surprised to learn of a Hussar who lived past his 30th birthday due to their impetuous manner of warfare.
Most famous of Napoleons Hussars is the Brigade Infernale – the Hellish Brigade of cavalry general Antoine Charles Louis de Lasalle who earned much of their namesake for their dogged 700-mile harassing pursuit of the Prussians in 1806. They capped this feat upon arrival, where outnumbered and far from the main army, managed to capture the fortress of Stettin. Well-fortified Stettin had 6,000 – 10,000 experienced soldiers and over a hundred artillery guns. Low on arms and supplies, LaSalle had his comparably small number of men surround Stettin with fake cannons made from black painted tree trunks and men armed with false wooden carbines. Lasalle delivered an ultimatum threatening complete destruction of the fortress in the morning by massed artillery and 50,000 infantry. The Prussians surrendered the great fortress and its army to a mere 500 Hussars – much to their later horror.
Adept scouts and light cavalrymen, Napoleons Hussars could be counted upon to fight with speed and severity wherever they were deployed. Their attitude and fighting style derived from the original Hussars of Hungary and Poland in centuries past who perfected light cavalry tactics in their conflicts with the Turks. Their successes inspired a type of light cavalryman who could be seen in many European armies by the Napoleonic era, all following a rough outline of Hungarian-inspired dress, large moustaches, cavalier demeanor and arms. Understandably, the public romanticized the dashing, exotic image of the charging Hussar.
This French Hussar saber is similar to other Hussar and cavalry sabers of the period who share a common ancestor in the Polish-Hungarian Szabla. After centuries of mounted warfare, the Szabla became the Hussar saber, ideally evolved for light cavalry combat. Its characteristic curve allowed for deathly sweeping slashes from on high. Its design highly influenced the British 1796 Light Cavalry Saber – a design destined to spread throughout the continent and to the United States.
This Hussar saber reproduction is crafted with an unsharpened blade of tempered high carbon steel. The blade boldly bears the markings of Klingenthal, the state-run sword manufacturer of France. The blade is also stamped with two period inspection markings on the base of the blade. The hilt is made of brass and the grip is ribbed, thick black leather is inlaid with brass wire. The wood-core scabbard is wrapped with black leather and significantly overlaid with an elongated brass throat and chape with two suspension rings. A leather washer is fitted to the base of the blade to protect the crossguard from the brass scabbard throat.