Original American Revolutionary War Era Sergeant Spontoon Leaping Horse of Brunswick
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a 85" Pole Arm Spontoon with a 10" iron head of the type carried by German Mercenary Sergeants from an area of what is now Germany then known as "Brunswick-Wolfenbuttell" during the American Revolutionary War.
Prince Carl of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was a brother-in-law of King George III of Great Britain. Braunschweig-Lüneburg, or Brunswick(-Lüneburg), was a duchy divided into sub-districts, one of which was ruled by George III. Duke Charles I of Brunswick-Bevern was Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel; his son and heir, Charles William Ferdinand, was married to Princess Augusta of Great Britain, the sister of George III. The territory, called a "Duchy," was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1775 Charles William Ferdinand ("Prince Carl") told King George III that Brunswick had soldiers who could be used to help put down the rebellion in the Americas. Brunswick was the first German-speaking state to sign a treaty supporting Great Britain, on 9 January 1776. It agreed to send 4,000 soldiers: four infantry regiments, one grenadier battalion, one dragoon regiment and one light infantry battalion. The Brunswick treaty provided that all troops would be paid in Imperial Thalers including two months' advance pay, but required that all troops take an oath of service to King George III. A controversial clause in the agreement stipulated that Duke Charles I would be paid £7 and 4s to replace each Brunswick soldier killed in battle- with three wounded men equal to one dead man; Charles, however, would pay to replace any deserters or any soldier who fell sick with anything other than an "uncommon contagious malady."
Duke Charles I provided Great Britain with 4,000 foot soldiers and 350 heavy dragoons (dismounted) under Lt-Colonel Friedrich Baum, all commanded by General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel. These soldiers were the majority of the German-speaking regulars under General John Burgoyne in the Saratoga campaign of 1777, and were generally referred to as "Brunswickers." The combined forces from Brunswick and Hesse-Hanau accounted for nearly half of Burgoyne's army, and the Brunswickers were known for being especially well-trained. Riedesel's Brunswick troops made a notable entry into the Battle of Hubbardton, singing a Lutheran hymn while making a bayonet charge against the American right flank, which may have saved the collapsing British line. Riedesel's wife, Friederike, traveled with her husband and kept a journal which remains an important primary account of the Saratoga campaign. After Burgoyne's surrender, 2,431 Brunswickers were detained as part of the Convention Army until the end of the war.
Brunswick sent 5,723 troops to North America, of whom 3,015 did not return home in the autumn of 1783. Some losses were to death or desertion, but many Brunswickers became familiar with America during their time with the Convention Army, and when the war ended, they were granted permission to stay by both Congress and their officers. Many had taken the opportunity to desert as the Convention Army was twice marched through Pennsylvania German settlements in eastern Pennsylvania. As the Duke of Brunswick received compensation from the British for every one of his soldiers killed in America, it was in his best interest to report the deserters as dead, whenever possible. The Duke even offered six months' pay to soldiers who remained or returned to America.
This Spontoon comes from Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and displays the crown over the Leaping Horse of Brunswick on both sides of the blade. Much of the gold inlay remains. The partizan pole arm was not so much a weapon as it was a sign of rank used by Sergeants, a tradition dating back hundreds of years before the introduction of firearms.
The base of the head on the steel sleeve portion of the wood pole is nicely marked: R-Z 13
This spontoon is one that originated from the German Castle of Schloss Marienburg the traditional home of the Dukes of Brunswick-Luneburg-Calenberg from the 1600s and was sold off in 2005, with the finest items being offered by Sotheby's a auction, the catalog for which is still available for easy reference online.
A very similar Spontoon with the same crowned leaping horse engraving is illustrated in SWORDS AND BLADES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION by George C. Neumann (a truly wonderful book) published in 1991 by Rebel Publishing. See page 221 (item 120.PA)
The original wood shaft retains it's original bottom mount in lovely matured condition.
85" overall length
10" iron head
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