British Pattern 1796 Infantry Officer’s Sword
The Pattern 1796 Infantry Officer’s Sword was the successor to the Pattern 1786 sword (which was really just a blade pattern and officers could choose whatever hilt they wished). The hilt of the P1796 was based on a Continental pattern which had been in existence for some time–a gilt brass guard and knuckle bow with silver wire (sometimes sheet silver) wrapped grip. The blades are generally 1 inch wide at the ricasso and approximately 31-32 inches long and decorated in some manner (etching or blue & gilt, for example). This pattern was in service until 1822 when a new infantry sword pattern was introduced. For an outstanding article on British swords of the period, please see “The British Officer’s Sword 1776-1815” by David Critchley.
This example was cleaned vigorously throughout its 200 year life and no decoration or maker name remains. The gilt is almost completely gone from the brass hilt. The grip is a wood core with silver sheet wrap to simulate wire. The guard is hinged on the inside portion so that when it is folded it will not damage the wearer’s uniform.
This is a pattern which would have been carried by British infantry officers at the Battle of Waterloo.