1866 Chassepot

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by XRE_987, Apr 19, 2017.

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  1. Went to a car boot on Monday, it was utter shite. After about 10 minutes I, my daughter and, to a lesser extent, my grandson (if he could talk he would have said "get me the feck out of here") decided we should go for lunch.

    The very last stall we passed had some display cases with car badges, cap badges and other stuff in it, so I went for a look. Always fancied collecting memorabilia but never knew where to start.

    As I looked at the badges, I realised I was looking around something to see them - what I thought was a short sword or something. After I took it out and had a look, it was obviously a bayonet, but very long. I liked it, so bought it (after a trip to my friendly petrol station to get two lots of cash back).

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    I knew absolutely nothing about this thing, other than I liked the look of it. I could have been right royally ripped off.

    Got home and did some home work and it is as above - a Chassepot 1866 model bayonet.

    This one is dated 1868, from the Tulles armoury, and inspected/approved by one Gustav Felix.

    The serial number on the scabbard/frog (hehe :rolleyes:) doesn't match the bayonet, but I haven't found out yet if it should, or if they're numbered separately.

    I bartered the guy down a bit, and then he said he's give me a couple of coins back as well. He pressed two €2 coins into my hand in a way that made me think he may be a bit strange. One of them went into the tip bowl where we had lunch, but the more I thought about it the more I wondered... Checked out the remaining one, and it was the "stick man" coin, which seem to be selling for around €30 on line. Not a bad deal :D I know the owner of the restaurant we ate in, and am going back for my other coin ;)

    I'll try to get a decent pic of the inscription on the back of the blade, but in the meantime here's some detail...

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    I wonder if this a one-off or the start of my memorabilia collection...
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  2. The next bit of your collection should of course be the Fusil Modele 1866 Chassepot to fit the Bayonet..

    ..then learn how to load it (after putting it "on ticket" of course..), first having made a new obturator from a tap washer and a new needle from welding rod...

    ..and in this way madness lies....

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  3. Some people start collecting bayonets and then go on to antique swords. It's an interesting hobby I'm sure.

    It's worth noting that the Chassepot bayonet is the "yataghan" style, named after a Turkish and Balkan style of sword which had a similar shape to the blade. The forward bend of the blade was originally used on French bayonets to allow more room for your hand when loading muzzle loaders.

    I've never seen an explanation as to why they used the "yataghan" style on the Chassepot, although I suppose it's possible they were re-using existing bayonets to save money.

    It's questions like this which turn collectors into obsessives.
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  4. Although difficult to prove, I suspect the drill pigs may have been behind the continuation of bayonet types.. Rifle/musket replacement would have happened over time, and the look of troops on parade may have been a factor..? I know the bayonet length on the P53/Snider and the Martini were adjusted so that the overall length of the gun plus bayonet remained the same, even though it would be operationally crazy to have guns of different calibre in the same squad..!

    Never underestimate the power of a drill pig to influence senior opinion..
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  5. I picked up my Chassepot Bayonet at a flea market in the village of Rezonville in France in 2003. Paid about 75 euros for it IIRC.

    It was nice to consider that the bayonet might even have been carried bu one of the soldiers in the fighting around Rezonville during the battle of Mars-la-Tour...

    Battle of Mars-la-Tour - Wikipedia

    IIRC correctly the Chassepot and the bayonet/scabbard were issued as a single item and all had the same number stamped on them. A search on the web will be able to ID the period and place of manufacture as there is a ruck on info on the Chassepot available if you look carefully.

    Mine was made in 1869 but the scabbard and bayonet have different numbers. However, it does look nice with my WW1 French Rosalie bayonet, British SMLE WW1 Sword bayonet (which incidentally also fitted an SLR), and my Iraqi AH74 bayonet... :)
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  6. Nice bit of kit. After an afghan tour when I brought back (lawfully, with all the permissions etc) a couple of rifles I ended up getting frog bayonets - a Chassepot, a Gras and a Lebel. I know its probably not what collectors would recommend, but I've polished the brass and wood work and they look really good. Without destroying blade patina. The scabbard and bayonet serial numbers should probably match.
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  7. I thought you had got a sweet rifle down the car boot for tuppence, I clicked on this thread and now I'm very disappointed.

    A bayonet FFS !
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  8. I've got a pair of these, but with no scabbards. Neither are in brilliant condition and someone tried polishing one at some point, still they go nicely with the rest of my 'pointy' collection.
  9. Sword collectors (who often collect bayonets as well) seem to be of two opinions on polishing. One side says that old things should look old. The other says that the brass was shiny when it was new, so all you are doing is returning it to the original condition.

    What they all do agree on is to be careful you're not damaging the item or removing material. This is more of a problem with officers' swords than with bayonets. Since officers' swords were private purchases, they sometimes came with gold or silver plating, or bluing, etching. or inlaying, and careless "cleaning" can remove what traces of that remain. This is much less likely to be the case with bayonets.

    As long as you're not damaging the item through overly vigorous cleaning, then it all comes down to a matter of taste.
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  10. Would a frenzied attack on a prostitute affect the patina ?

    A friend asks.
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  11. Bayonets were very important in the days of single shot muskets or rifles, and the guy with the longer weapon usually had an advantage over the guy with a shorter one. Hence, when they shortened the rifle they made the bayonet longer to compensate to what they saw as the ideal length.

    Some British regiments by the way issued sergeants with short rifles or carbines as they were expected to be directing their men rather than spending time firing at the enemy. They gave them longer bayonets to compensate so they wouldn't be at a disadvantage at close quarters.

    When it came to trench warfare in WWI, it was found that a shorter bayonet in combination with a short rifle had its advantages in those specific circumstances of limited room to manoeuvre the weapon. They had magazine rifles by those days though, so bayonets had become less important than in the days of single shot rifles or muskets.

    Bayonet fencing was practised extensively and the drill was fairly involved. Here's a film showing Danes practising thrusts and parries on board a ship in 1910. There are British, French, Russian, and Japanese films of this as well, but this one is the clearest.

    You can see that if one guy had a rifle and bayonet combination which was longer than the other, he could spit his opponent on his bayonet before the other guy could reach him. There are limits to that of course. If the combination becomes too long, then it becomes too unwieldy.

    Here's a very short video of guy who runs a fencing club in London demonstrating bayonet drill with an 1856 Enfield rifle. This gives you a good flavour of the different moves when performed by someone with a bit of skill in that sort of thing.

    The guy on the British Muzzle Loaders Youtube channel recently did a video on 19th century bayonet drill, but this reply is long enough without including that. If anyone reading this isn't familiar with that Youtube channel and can't find it, let me know and I'll dig up a link to it. The channel is well worth following for anyone interested in 19th century British military firearms, from the Enfield to the Snider to the Martini-Henry.

    By the way, the main reason that infantry officers carried swords in the 19th century (and during the similar period prior to that) was so they would have something with which to defend themselves with against enemy bayonets. The guy with the bayonet had the reach advantage, but the sword (sabre, backsword, etc.) was quicker and more mobile so it's hard to say who had the advantage when both opponents were equally skilled.

    Edit to add: If I had to speculate on why the French stayed with "yataghan" bayonets on their breach loaders, I would guess that it was a matter of cost. This would let them re-use old bayonets, with at worst having to replace the hilts or mounting components. That is just guesswork however.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
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  12. Yes. Or so a friend claims.
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  13. My Great Grandad (German) was in that war. A year Earlier and he would have been French as Oldenburg was a French garrison town. He copped a lung shot either at Metz or Verdun serving with the Oldenburg Infantry regt 91, which existed to the end of 1918 and then disbanded.
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  14. May I recommend the Baker Rifle Sword Bayonet as issued to the 95th Rifles, approx 2 ft long one cutting edge along the bottom, with a very nice set of saw teeth along the half.
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  15. Apparently @robinrocket111 has clicked on disagree with this post. I'll bow to his greater experience in these matters.