Worcester Yeomanry Cavalry

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 Sword Exercises


That a recruit may be more readily brought to comprehend the intention and object of the different directions in which he will be required to carry his blade, and at the same time in order to enable the drill officer to judge how far the motions are accurately executed; the recruit must be placed facing a wall, at the distance of six feet, but not so as to touch it with his sword when drawn.
Upon the wall, immediately in front of his position, describe a circle of two feet diameter, and full four feet from the ground, then draw two lines, which will divide the circle into four parts, each line being drawn diagonally; then a third line forming an horizontal diameter: on the different points of those lines place the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, as represented in Plate  I. fig. 1.
This will serve to convey the idea of that space, which an antagonist would occupy in point of height, and the recruit is to direct all his movements to it, upon that supposition; the figures denoting the six distinct cuts of the sabre, which are to be applied in that given space.
His position must be erect, with his body square to the front, his head kept up, and eyes directed to the
object before him.  His heels two inches asunder, and his arms hanging without constraint, keeping the points of his elbows back, his right hand flat on his thigh, his thumb to be on a line with the seam of his breeches; the left hand in the same manner, with his fingers on the scabbard to keep his sword steady, and in readiness to be drawn.
1796 light cavalry sabre
No sword must be made use of without having a sword-knot attached to it.  It enables a person instantly to recover his weapon, if forced from his grasp; and in drills, prevents accidents which are liable to occur by the sword escaping from the hand, when not restrained.
The sword-knot is to be made of leather, not too thick; but capable of shaping itself to the wrist; yet it is not intended ever to confine the action of the wrist, which it would do if drawn tight; but it is to be of such a length as to admit of the sword-hilt shifting in the hand, which is necessary in giving point, and indeed in almost every movement in the exercise of the sword.
In whatever form the sword-knot may be worn, it is always to be loosened the moment a dragoon becomes mounted, in order to its being in readiness for use, whenever swords are required to be drawn.
Draw and Carry Swords

The sword will be drawn, and brought to the position in which it is to be carried, in three Motions.

Words of Comman: Draw swords            


 1.    Upon the words swords being uttered, direct the eyes to the sword-hilt, bringing the right hand with a sharp action across the body and over the bridle arm to the sword-knot, placing it upon the wrist, and giving the hand a couple of turns inwards, in order to make it fast, at the same time seize the hilt, and wait in this position for the second motion, which will be made by the fleugel man on the right the back of the hand is to be on the rear.
    2.    Draw the sword from the scabbard with a full extended arm, at the same time sink the hand till the hilt of the sword is immediately under the chin, with the blade perpendicular, and the back of the hand outwards.
    3.    Bring the hilt down to be in a line with the bridle-hand, the elbow near the body, the blade perpendicular, and the wrist in a small degree rounded, which turns the edge inwards in the direction of the horse’s left ear.

Slope swords
Word of Command:Slope Swords
Keep the sword-arm in the exact position, pointed out for the carrying of swords; but distend the second, third and fourth fingers from the gripe of the sword, in order that the back of the blade may meet the hollow of the right shoulder, where it is to be supported with the edge directed to the front.
When in this position, the sword will be kept steady, and is to be without motion, at whatever pace the horse may be moving.

Return Swords

Words of Command: Return Swords            
The sword is always to be returned from the carried position, and not from the sloped.  This is likewise executed in three motions, dressing by the right.
1.    Carry the sword-hilt to the hollow  of the left shoulder, having the back of the hand outwards, and the blade perpendicular, without pausing.  Drop the blade (but not the hand) to the rear close by the left shoulder, directing the eyes to the scabbard* in which the blade is immediately to be placed and returning until the hand and the elbow become in a line with each other, square across the body, and keeping the back of the hand directed to the rear.
* By resting the blade upon the bridle arm, the point will easily meet the scabbard.
2.    Thrust the sword home into the scabbard, and loosen instantly the sword-knot from the wrist, keeping the hand upon the hilt.On the motion from the fleugel man, carry the right hand from the hilt with a smart action to the off side.
Prepare to guard PREPARE to GUARD
This is performed in one motion, and done by bringing the extremity of the sword-hilt up to the pit of the stomach, with the back of the hand outwards : the flat of the blade to the face, and carried perpendicularly.  At the same instant the bridle-hand must cross the body in a similar direction, and immediately under the sword-hand, keeping the nails inwards and hand closed.
Let it be observed throughout the drill exercise, that each cut ends with bringing the sword back to its position in the guard, from which the recruit without waiting for any previous word from the drill officer, will come immediately down to the prepare to guard.  This is to be continued as long as the motions are executed by a repetition of numbers.
It is when in this last position that the drill officer will give his principal instructions on the mode of executing the movements following.  It will ease the sword-arm, that requires such relief; at the same time the constantly carrying out the arm to the guard, previous to every cut during this part of the exercise, will strengthen the elbow, and accustom the recruit to take a correct position.

From the motion to prepare to guard, the guard is done at once, by darting the sword-hand forward with the same force, as in making a blow directed to the left ear of the opponent.  This will cause the back of the blade to be towards the face; the edge of the sword should be turned in a trifling degree down, in order that the side-iron of the hilt may protect the wrist and under part of the arm.  The sword to be kept nearly in an horizontal position across the face, the point carried rather above the level of the mounting, and in an exact parallel to the front.*
*It being impossible to hold a guard in the horizontal position, which will protect against both the under and upper cuts, there is a necessity of giving a decided protection from one or other, that the hand and eye may be relieved from the wavering and uncertainty which would be the result of choosing a medium: in this the lower part of the arm being secure, the attention is chiefly directed to ward cut I. and II. an attempt to make which is easily perceived, and obviated by turning up the side-iron by a motion of the wrist.
The sight to be directed towards the antagonist, between the ear of the sword and the blade; the position of the blade is not to be altered for that purpose, but the edge invariably kept down as before directed; notwithstanding it has the effect of narrowing the focus, it occasions no impediment to the sight.
In this position the arm should be distended to the utmost, and of course, the hand above the level of the shoulder:* the bridle-hand always remains across the body, in the position of holding a bridle, except when the swords are sloped.
In the guard the greatest attention must be paid to the correct position of the hand, which must always be directed to the left ear of the antagonist,

*From this guard nearly every movement, offensive or defensive, can be made with rapidity and force, as the point being carried rather higher than the wrist, occasions a facility of execution in the commencement of a cut.  It will therefore be found preferable to the hanging guard for a horseman; for although the hanging guard may appear to afford a greater security against the first cut of an antagonist, yet it confines those who adopt it, either to give point in the attack. or to remain almost entirely on the defensive, at least till the adversary’s blow has been received, or to make cut IV. which is the weakest, and except it can be directed at the elbow, the least eligible.  None of the other cuts can be made without first bringing the blade up to the position here stiled the guard; and the time thus lost in the motion, from the weight of the sabre, and difficulty of raising the point, when so much below the wrist, induce a preference to be given to this guard, which is a central one, from which every reqrequisite movement may be easily effected: and from which the hanging guard may, if necessary, be taken with the greatest celerity by dropping the guard.
notwithstanding any change of position on his part. From a guard correctly taken there is no risque in attacking, because the sword hilt is immediately opposed to the antagonist’s retort : but when a cut originates from a false position, the head by the first motion becomes exposed.
In opposing cavalry the arm becomes a pivot, round which the wrist wheels the sword independent of any other action but what may be derived from the shoulder : care must therefore be taken, neither to incline the hand to the right or left of the given position, nor to sink it below the level of the antagonist’s left ear; but above all, not to bend the elbow : there are faults which beginners are extremely apt to commit, and which expose the sword arm to be completely disabled.  The attention cannot be too often recalled to these most essential points in the science; the strict observance of which chiefly constitutes the excellence of the system.