Scottish treker fandabi dozi

Discussion in 'Muzzleloading and History in the Media' started by tenngun, Apr 19, 2019.

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  1. May 9, 2019 #21

    MacRob46

    MacRob46

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    The two firms making swords for the Highland regiments were Dru Drury and Nathaniel Jefferys, both based in London. Anthony Darling speculated that actual manufacturing took place in Birmingham with Drury being the most prolific maker. At some point it appears that the firms combined, based on blades found stamped with both names. At any rate, Darling thinks that the business of both firms consisted of assembling swords from components made by subcontractors in Birmingham. Some of the blades may have been imported but absent records or blades with known continental trademarks, we cannot be sure. I am inclined to think that, with its industrial base and experienced armourers, Birmingham was capable of making simple sword blades. View attachment 9529 View attachment 9529 View attachment 9529
     

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  2. May 9, 2019 #22

    Artificer

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    Thank you VERY MUCH for the information on the makers of the British Issue Basket Hilt Swords!!!!! I began doing a little research based on their names and I'm having a great time with it. Thank you!!

    I appreciate the pic of the two Issue Swords. Are they one from each maker or perhaps different time periods from the same maker? Part of the reason I ask is because of the difference between the pommels, one being dome shaped and the other a truncated cone. The dome shaped pommel is reminiscent of English Cavalry Broadswords, but also earlier Scottish Basket Hilts. One place I have found so far suggests the truncate cone was typical of Drury swords?

    I certainly agree that Birmingham makers during this period not only could, but were making good swords and bayonets, as well as all manner of Military Equipment. Of course this begs the question why the swords were not popular as you brought up earlier:

    "The backsword blades and baskets for that mattter, which were made for issue to the Highland regiments were roundly condemned as being flimsy and were not liked by the average soldier. Informal surveys of the troops by the officer corps revealed they were much happier with the bayonet than the swords they were issued."

    Please understand I am not trying to put you on the spot, but am attempting to figure out where the animosity, you wrote about earlier, came from? Was it a matter of the swords not having been of good quality or could it have been by the AWI generation, they no longer had the training needed to use the sword and thus preferred the bayonet?

    Gus
     
  3. May 10, 2019 #23

    MacRob46

    MacRob46

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    The information I have on the two military swords indicates they were both made by Dru Drury but I have no way of confirming that, other than by zooming in on the picture. The markings on the blades include the crown and what appears to be "Drury" when magnified. This photo was supplied by a friend and included in a book I wrote which was published a couple of years ago. The conical pommel does seem to be common on the Drury sword but apparently some others were made with the bun shaped pommel as well, and as evidenced by the sword in the photo.

    I may have gotten carried away a bit by calling the issue swords flimsy. However, the price paid by the government for these swords was eight shillings and six pence - not close to the cost of the average civilian model. Iain MacPherson McCulloch muddies the water a little by saying on one hand that the swords were "sturdy" and on the other they were "poor quality." My references mostly refer to the preference for the bayonet over the sword. When looking at eyewitness accounts during the F & I War, I can only find two battles where the Highland regiments' swords are mentioned: The Plains of Abraham and Fort Carillon. If swords were popular and well-made you would think we would have more accounts of their usage. Just a thought.
     
  4. May 10, 2019 #24

    Artificer

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    Thank you for the clarification, it helped a lot. Though the Enlisted Sword would have been less expensive when purchased in fairly large quantity, the price you mentioned suggests they must have cut some corners compared to even less expensive civilian swords supplied to some Retainers or Men at Arms, let alone what was purchased by Highland Nobility.

    Is it possible that the criticism came in part because it was such a "basic" sword and not made for each individual? I imagine the blade lengths of the Issue Swords were within a fairly close range of length and so may not have seem properly balanced or the right length for at least some of the soldiers? Perhaps because the swords were so much plainer, that also brought some criticism?

    I have only seen one original close up, within less than a foot from the outside of the glass display case, but it seemed the Hilt was plenty substantial and in keeping with two or three civilian swords I was privileged to handle. Though I can't remember the if the grip material was leather or shark skin, it also seemed substantial and in keeping with other 18th and 19th century swords I have owned over the years. Actually, the grip looked "business like" and better than other British Infantry Hangers I've seen from the period. Seems I need to make plans to return to the Museum to study it more in depth, as possible.

    Again, thank you for the pictures and information you provided. I plan on delving into this more before another trip to the museum and also seeing if Colonial Williamsburg may have any originals to compare.

    Gus
     
  5. May 13, 2019 #25

    Grumpa

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    A most interesting thread. Caused me to search out my copy of "Sword, Lance and Bayonet" by Charles ffoulkes and E.C. Hopkinson. Copyright 1938, 1967.
    "Under the 1831 Regulations the traditional Highland broadsword...was regularized....The 1834 Regulations ordered the guard to be lined with white buckskin edged with blue silk ribbon and covered on the outside with scarlet cloth". The authors point out that the 18th century broadswords "were, as often as not, personal and not regimental weapons. Most of them have blades signed by the mysterious Andrea Ferrara".

    Also refers to the preference of the 42nd for the bayonet over the broadsword, and the fact that they turned in their swords to the Ordnance Store at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1783.

    Another interesting note is that 300 "Tommihawks" were issued to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Americans on 12 August, 1761.

    Richard/Grumpa
     
  6. May 13, 2019 #26

    Artificer

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    That's some neat info.

    I did some research into 19th century use of the Basket Hilt Sword, hoping to find any example that would give me an excuse to wear one for a Confederate Infantry Officer's Impression, at least for reenactments early in the War. Though some Federal Troops had them and included Great Kilts and other Highland Garb, I could not find any justification for a Virginia Officer even though many Scots settled in Virginia for many decades before the War. The 1834 regulations hearkened back to an earlier period when the leather liners were dyed red, if the owner could afford it.

    I would suggest the Turning Point when the Basket Hilt Sword really began to lose favour was from the Battle of Culloden. Though the Jacobite Scots broke though the British lines in a couple places with their Basket Hilt Swords and Targes, most of the British Infantry was disciplined enough not to break. Further they had come up with a new tactic of stabbing to the side, to get past the Targe and Guard of the Highlanders. That tactic was even more effective as the Jacobites were very hungry and tired when they went into the battle.

    With the Acts of Proscription that began in 1746, even all forms of Highland Clothing was outlawed, let alone Highland Weapons and almost no one could spend the time needed to learn to use the Basket Hilt Sword - outside the British Scottish Regiments. Some older civilian men taught younger men in secret, but far fewer numbers than ever before. No more Basket Hilt Sword Contests and even when Clans were raiding other Clan cattle, etc., they dared not carry Basket Hilt Swords for fear of being caught with them. So they no longer got "practice" using the Swords even then.

    There was still enough knowledge and experienced soldiers who knew how to use the Basket Hilt Sword by the FIW, but most of them were long gone by the AWI and so the knowledge and training with the Sword languished a great deal. It was a whole lot easier to train young soldiers with the Bayonet than with the Sword.

    Gus
     
  7. May 15, 2019 #27

    MacRob46

    MacRob46

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    Looking at an earlier post, where you opined that some of the dissatisfaction with the munitions grade swords resulted from the training and swords used by the soldiers in earlier times, i.e. pre-Culloden, here is what I think about that. A number of sources, especially some recent writings by Murray Pittock, have downplayed the role of the swordsman in “The ’45.” For a long time historical writers (Stuart Reid et al) have remarked on the few swords (190) picked up from the battlefield at Culloden, as opposed to the muskets (2320). Ditto for those turned in for weeks and even months after the battle. To these researchers, that indicates a lower reliance on the sword and by inference, fewer trained swordsmen in the ranks. I tend to support that idea based on a couple of points. The first is economics.

    The Highland economy before Culloden was weak and afterward it got worse. Tenants and cottars lived hand to mouth and the only people in the Highlands who could afford good weapons and the extensive training to be able to use a sword, were chiefs, the close relatives of chiefs and tacksmen; the odd person who had somehow become relatively wealthy without fitting into one of those categories, being the exception. But these people were few in number.

    Second, I think the average Highlander, by the time of the F&I War, probably knew little or nothing about swordsmanship nor were they likely to be critical of the equipment they were given since they lacked expertise in the weaponry. Prior to Culloden, with the long lull between Jacobite Rebellions (26 years) and the general decline in inter-clan warfare, the need for large groups of swordsmen had diminished. This is not to say that those guys did not exist, they were just fewer in number. It is plain from various accounts that dueling continued well into the 19th c. and sometimes involved swords so some had the training. Even so, the idea that Highlanders were proficient with swords lingered on. Remember the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge in February of 1776, where the main attack by the Loyalists was spearheaded by a small group of Highlanders armed with swords. They were all cut down by musketry and cannon fire.
     
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  8. May 15, 2019 #28

    Artificer

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    Thank you for reminding me of the term "tacksman," as I was searching my memory for that term earlier, but couldn't bring it to mind. Also I don't believe I ever ran across the term "cotter" for farmer before, but since my last Highland Ancestor came over to Virginia around 1720, that term and the Scottish Gaelic we once spoke, was lost long ago.

    Speaking of economics, the Basket Hilt Sword (or really any sword) was way too expensive for most Highland Scots to afford even in the 18th century before Culloden. English Military and Civilian visitors to the Highlands often mentioned that most Highland Scots wore Dirks before Culloden, but their definition of Dirks could well have been any of a number of types of knives and it still would have been noticeable to those Visitors, who were not used to seeing so many people walk around with knives every day.

    The Six Independent Companies of "The Watch" from 1725 onward were from Clans loyal to the English King, so while they received more training in the sword than many/most Highland Scots, those were usually not men who were Jacobites.

    Also, the "Darien Scheme" had seriously weakened Scotland financially from the beginning of the 18th century. It is hard to believe today, but both Highland and Lowland Scots invested in the plan to the tune of around 500,000 pounds all told and they lost everything. (I was so surprised I was almost shocked when talked to a Doctor of 18th Century International Trade at Colonial Williamsburg in the early 2,000's and even she had never heard of it.)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darien_scheme

    Thanks in part to that failed scheme and the low economy in the Highlands particularly, there were a fair number of Highland Scots who learned the Basket Hilt Sword while serving basically as mercenaries on the Continent.

    Glad you mentioned the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge. Though accounts vary between 110 and around 188 Basket Hilt Sword wielding Scots Loyalists, the main reason that charge failed was the Patriots were smart enough to have removed so many of the planks from the bridge, prior to the Scottish Loyalist making the charge. That slowed down and broke up the charge so effectively, even rather poorly trained Patriot Militia were able to easily deal with them. That is no so much of a criticism of the effectiveness of the Highland Charge with Broadswords, as it was poor leadership of the Loyalist Scottish Leaders who should not have used the tactic when they found the planks had been removed from the bridge.

    Gus
     
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  9. May 16, 2019 #29

    MacRob46

    MacRob46

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    There were three economic levels in Highland agriculture. Tacksmen, who received leases on the chief's property for nominal sums, plus military service. Tenants, who leased tracks from the tacksmen and cottars who simply worked the land for small wages paid by the tenants. It was a rotten system which served mainly to keep the tenants and cottars from having much hope of ever obtaining any wealth. It continued to exist for a short time after the clan system ended

    I would also be appalled to run across someone with a PHD in historical international trade who did not know about Darien, a scheme to enable Scotland to bypass the restrictive British trade laws designed to keep them a second or third rate economic power. Darien was the pivot point for a lot of other British history and its failure both secured the Union of Parliaments in 1707 and assured the continuation of the Jacobite attempts to return the Stuarts to the throne of Great Britain. Shame on her!

    Scots emigrated to Europe, both as mercenaries and as professionals and tradesmen, starting in the 15th c. They wielded great influence in Europe from that time on. Little known to most people.

    The exact number of Loyalists equipped with swords at Moore's Creek has never been determined but I will wager it wasn't more than 50. Flora MacDonald, in a letter written afterward, pegged the number at 40 but, of course, she wasn't on the scene. I have visited Moore's Creek and the rebuilt bridge there, with planks installed, would hardly accommodate more than than 40 or 50 attackers and, of course, they had to cross on the greased sleepers! With planks, they would have have been bunched up and facing the Patriot artillery, loaded with grape shot. Apparently all of them made it across, only to be killed or wounded immediately, which effectively ended the battle.

    With General MacDonald out of action, command fell to Allan MacDonald, Flora's husband. There is very little mention of his actions during the battle and he certainly was not involved in the charge across the bridge because nobody survived that unscathed. What is known is that he organized the retreat and actually evaded capture for a short time. Ultimately he and his son were surrounded and taken prisoner, along with a number of other Loyalists near Cross Creek.
     

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  10. May 16, 2019 #30

    Zonie

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    I think this topic has about run its course.

    It seems to have little or nothing to do with " Muzzleloading and History in the Media", if we are speaking of history in America.

    The Muzzleloading Forum is basically set up to discuss the happenings that occurred and the firearms that were used in America.
     
  11. May 17, 2019 #31

    Zonie

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    I reopened this topic out of popular demand.

    I do feel the MLF is primarily concerned with America and its history but the Scot's did play a role in its development.
     

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