Category: 1803

British Flank / Light Infantry Officers Sabre, 1796 to 1803

This is a British interim sabre from between 1796 and 1803, for a Flank or Light Infantry officer. With a wedge section blade, heavily curved, and a 1796 style hilt, this sword was scaled down to fit the needs of an infantry officer and is extremely quick and agile.

The deeply curved, slightly shorter blade is well suited to draw cuts, and the overall lightness compliments the POB (12cm from crossguard)

The reason it can be accurately dated to the interim period of 1796 to 1803 is because of the British war office officially adopting new patterns of sabres in those years.

In 1796 the (rather well known) 1796 light cavalry sabre was adopted, which this mimics in hilt design, featuring a stirrup hilt (“P” shaped guard) and a curved blade.

Flank infantry and Light infantry officers often engaged in skirmishing tactics and thus officers for these regiments tended to go for more combat appropriate swords than their official pattern (The 1796 spadroon, often considered to be a terrible sword).

As a result of the number of Flank/Light infantry officers using 1796 Light Cavalry sabre derivatives, the 1803 was soon officially adopted for these regiments, featuring a broad, heavily curved blade and a more elaborate and more protective hilt.

This design falls between those two.

For your 18th Century to early 19th Century adventures.

British Pattern 1803 Infantry Officer’s Sword

Of regulation type, the blade etched and gilt with scrolls and trophies-of-arms on a blued panel over two thirds of its length on each face, gilt-brass hilt, the guard pierced with the royal cypher ‘GR’ crowned, lion’s head pommel, wire-bound fishskin-covered grip, in its original leather scabbard with gilt brass chape, middle-band and locket, the latter signed ‘Bicknells & Moore, Old Bond Street’, and complete with original knot. 73.5 cm; 29 in blade.


British Pattern 1803 Infantry Officer’s Sword


British Pattern 1803 Infantry Officer’s Sword

An 1803 pattern infantry officer’s sword, featuring a blue and gilt decorated sabre blade, of flat un-fullered section (27 inches or 69cm long). Brass guard, backstrap and pommel, grey shagreen grip with copper wire. Unusual brass scabbard with fixed rings. Total length 32 inches / 81cm.


The beautiful blue and gilt Sabre of Sir Archibald Campbell, England, ca. 1731-1791, housed at the National Museum of Scotland.

There is a possibility they have this attributed to the wrong Sir Archibald Campbell. Sir Archibald Campbell (1731-1791) died 12 years before this became this pattern became the regulation sabre for flank, light infantry, and rifles officers (Pattern 1803 Infantry Officer’s Sword). Although the P1803 style hilt did exist before it was made regulation, I have never seen one dating to the early 1790s. It is possible that if this sword did belong to Sir Archibald Campbell (1731-91) that the blade was re-hilted and used by another member of his family.

If the museum’s attribution is indeed incorrect, then this may be the sword of Lt.-Gen. Sir Archibald Campbell (1769-1843), who served in the correct time frame for this to have been his sword.

Campbell entered the army aged 18, in 1787 as an ensign. The next year he and his regiment, the 77th Regiment of Foot, left for India, where he took part in the campaign against Tipu Sultan in 1790. In 1791 he was promoted to Lieutenant. He served in the Mysorecampaign and the first siege of Seringapatam.

In 1795 his regiment was ordered to reduce the Dutch garrison of Cochin on the coast of Malabar. In 1799 he took part of the reduction of the island of Ceylon.

Later in 1799 he purchased the rank of captain in the 67th but exchanged into the 88th so that he could continue with his foreign service. However, he was required by ill-health to return home in 1801. He was appointed major in the 6th battalion of reserve, stationed in Guernsey.

He moved in 1805 to the 1st battalion which was leaving for Portugal. He fought in the battles of Rolica, Vimeiro and Corunna. In 1809 he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and assisted General Beresford in organising the Portuguese army. In that capacity he was made full colonel and then brigadier. He was present through most of the fighting in the Peninsula.

In 1813 Campbell was appointed to the rank of major-general in the Portuguese army. In 1816 he was given command of the Lisbon division. He returned to the service of Britain in 1820, after a revolution in Portugal. Campbell was appointed colonel of the 38th Regiment of Foot (in which post he was succeeded by Field Marshal Sir John Forster FitzGerald, GCB) and went to India with it. For his Peninsula service, Campbell was awarded the Army Gold Cross with one clasp for the battles of Albuera, Vitoria, the Pyrenees, the Nivelle, and the Nive.




British Pattern 1803 Infantry Officer’s Sword

The blade with etched and gilt decoration against and blued ground over half its length to the bright point (some loss of finish and minor areas of pitting), and regulation ormolu hilt retaining most of its gilding, in original black leather scabbard (some surface damage) with ormolu mounts retaining traces of original gilding (chape dented). 70.7 cm blade.

British Pattern 1803 Infantry Officer’s Sword

For an officer of a grenadier company.

Regulation hilt with grenade, the curved blade is plain with engraved decoration towards hilt complete with leather scabbard with gilt brass mounts the top one Prosser London – Please note damage to scabbard near centre mount.

Blade Length: 77 cm
Overall Length: 91 cm


Pile-O-Swords 2: The Piling