Bataille de Valmy Le 20 septembre 1792, painted by Pierre Victor Robiquet in 1907 to commemorate event. (C) Paris – Musée de l’Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image musée de l’Armée.
Today is the 230th anniversary of the engagement between Gen. Charles François Dumouriez’ Army of the North and Gen. François Christophe Kellermann’s Army of the Centre, which numbered about 54,000 effectives– only about half of which were veterans of the old Royal Army– met the Duke of Brunswick’s Coalition force of some 84,000 veteran Prussian, Austrian, Hessian, and Royalist French troops.
Sweeping through Verdun and the Argonne, the Coalition forces were only able to get about 30,000 to the field of battle between Sainte-Menehould and Valmy, where Kellermann met them with a roughly equal force and won the day, blocking the road to Paris by leading his men into battle with a raised hat and cry of “Vive la Nation.”
It was the first major victory by the French during the Revolutionary Wars that followed the French Revolution and would set the stage for the Napoleanic Wars that would engulf the world over the next quarter-century.
From the collection of the Musée de l’Armée is this French M1816 light cavalry saber, for your entertainment.
You know you like it
The 19th century experienced a certain craze for the occultism whose followers, rejecting materialism and bourgeois morality, seek to reveal the secrets of nature and man through the practice of the occult arts (magic, divination, alchemy). This vogue sees the production of literary, graphic and artistic works related to these practices. Private gunsmiths then put on the market decorative weapons, mainly daggers, which we call today “romantic”. The blades are often of recovery and are provided with a handle molded with the motives of devils or allegorical figures.
Perhaps inspired by Masonic rituals that require the use of a sword, this sword was made from a light cavalry saber blade model 1816. The guard represents a skeleton, whose skull serves as a pommel and the body grows on guard, fighting against a snake. As for the meaning of this decoration, only the initiates will appreciate it …
This sword also dates from the time that the French were fresh off the disastrous massed cavalry charge at Waterloo, led by Ney, that crashed on the squares of British infantry without carrying the day.
Nonetheless, they continued to maintain significant horse-mounted units for more than 130 years after.
French Cuirassiers handing over a paper (billet) to inform a family that they, the soldiers, are to be billeted in the farmhouse. c.1911. Colorized by Doug Ralston.