Original U.S Civil War Model 1840 Heavy Cavalry Saber with Scabbard - Dated 1851

Item Description

Original item: Only One Available. This heavy Cavalry Saber, known as "Old Wristbreaker" among troops, was designated the U.S. Model of 1840, but was widely used in the War between the States on both sides. This fine example still bears faint markings on the blade's ricasso:

U. [S.]

The reverse ricasso bears the faint date marking of 1851. Research shows that "A.D.K", which is also stamped on the pommel, stands for Andrew D. King, who inspected swords for the Ordnance Dept. from 1840 to 1865. This sword, like others from this period bearing that inspection mark, was most likely produced by Ames, however the markings have worn away over time.

This sword conforms exactly to the M-1840 U.S. Heavy Cavalry pattern, and is approximately 41 1/2 inches in overall length. It has a very nice brass leather grip, though the wiring wrapping has been removed. The brass three branch hand guard is in very good shape, and the leather blade washer is still present, though worn. The wicked heavy 35 1/2 inches long curved blade really is quite nice, showing little wear of any type of corrosion. It comes complete with its heavy steel scabbard, which is in very good condition. It has a nice lightly oxidized patina, and no major dents or other issues. Really a nice example of this type of scabbard.

A great example of a Civil War Era M-1840 Wristbreaker Saber: Fully cleaned and ready to Display!

The Model 1840 Cavalry Saber was based on the 1822 French hussar's sabre. Unlike its replacement, the Model 1860 Light Cavalry Saber the M1840 has a ridge around its quillon, a leather grip wrapped in wire (rather than grooves cut into the wooden handle) and a flat, slotted throat. It is 44" long with a 35" blade and weighs roughly 2.5 lbs.

The M1840 was designed for slashing and because of its heavy flat-backed blade was given the nickname "Old Wristbreaker." It was adopted due to the army's dissatisfaction with its predecessor the model 1833 Dragoon Saber, the first cavalry sword adopted by the US Army. The iron-hilted M1833 was based on a Napoleonic-era British sword used by heavy cavalry and reputed to wrap "rubber like around a man's head and was only good for cutting butter" An ornate gilded version of this earlier sword was used by General Philip Sheridan during the Civil War; Sheridan had its sheath engraved with the battles he participated in. It was evident a replacement was needed so in 1838 the US Ordnance Dept bought British, French and Prussian swords and field-tested them. The troopers overwhelmingly preferred the French saber, and a copy of it was put into production in 1844. A total of 2000 were ordered and by 1846, 600 were in frontline service.

The 1840 saber was used during the U.S.-Mexican War by US Cavalry. The main contractors were Ames of Cabotville, Horstmann, and Tiffany but due to the large number of swords required at least 1000 were made in Germany by S&K and imported. Some troopers used Prussian sabers as an alternative, which in contrast to the M1840 had straight blades.

When production ceased in 1858 over 23,700 were made. During the US Civil War it continued to be issued to Union Cavalry as in the early years it was more readily available than the M1860. George B McClellan carried one at the front, keeping his regulation officer's sword for full dress occasions. Many were also used by the Confederacy including General Nathan Bedford Forrest who had both edges of his sword sharpened to increase combat effectiveness.

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