French 33 Th Light Infantry Officer sword

Wonderful sword of a Light Infantry Officer of the 33 Th regiment of the Napoléon Grande Armée circa 1807.

Light Regiments ranked as senior to the Line Infantry and regarded themselves as such, an attitude of superiority reinforced by their more impressive uniforms and for this particular officer, with his beautiful sword.

Traditionally light infantry were soldiers whose job was to provide a skirmishing screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance.

Light infantry was distinct from medium, heavy or line infantry. Often officers skirmishing ahead were protecting themselves with a curve sword.

" 33ème REGIMENT I……...EGER "

Light Infantry in action

The copper hilt has a single branch finishing near the pommel with a "tear".
The pommel forms an unusual rectangle. The sword has two large languets with a palm design.

The grip is in ebony type wood.

The hilt is very different from the ones usually carried by Infantry officers, such as the 1800 pattern sword.

Our sword has been inspired by the Presentation swords given by Bonaparte as a Consul and designed by Nicolas Boutet.
The hilt design is shared with the briquet from the Grenadier of the Imperial Guard.

Our sword is mentionned in the book of Jean Lhoste and Jean-Jacques Buigne "Armes blanches : symbolisme, inscriptions, marquages, fourbisseurs, manufactures"

Light Infantry skirmishing

The blade is  75 cm long slightly curved, engraved on one side " 33ème REGIMENT I……...EGER " and on the other side engraved with folia and military attributes...

The blade remains very sharpened with some gilt and blue designs remaining at the ricasso.

Leather black scabbard with a large copper chape and bouterolle.

In fact the distinction between French Light and Line infantry was minimal. ..mainly one of dress and nomenclature.

 Both Light and Line infantry were trained and equipped in the same way...with a better designed blue uniform for the Leger 
They were often employed not just as skirmishers, but also as close order troops.

French Line infantry were also capable of skirmishing - however, it is unclear whether the raw recruits of the Line infantry during the 1813-1815 period would have been well-trained enough to have been deployed as skirmishers.

A curved sword to lead the men by Giuseppe Rava ©

History of the 33 th Light Infantry Regiment

Beginning of 1808, the Grande Armée was in trouble in Portugal, trying to reinforce the blocus against England.

Also Napoléon did create two new brigades of Infantry, using men from the depot, the 27 th Light Infantry...they will create the 8 th Regiment, then a 33 th and 34 th Light Infantry will be created.

In September 1808 after the treaty of Cintra, France left Portugal.
After the battle of  Baïlen, the 8 Th will join the 33 Th Light Infantry to be  disbanded in 1809. Some of them will join the Guard of King Joseph, Napoléon brother, in Spain.

Nice square pommel

Light Infantry in action

Napoléon annexing the Deutch in 1810, the six line Deutch regiments will form the 123 Th, 124 Th et 125 Th, and the two Light Infantry regiments will form the new 33 Th Light Infantry Regiment.

Then, they will march to Moscow, during the Russian Retreat...At the battle of Krasnoi, the 17 th of November1812, Napoléon decided to get out of Krasnoe and organised himself the action using the Imperial Guard...then he went back... the 33th of Light Infantry and the 8th of Line was the arriere- garde...the 8th manage to retreat ...but the 33th was under heavy artillery fire then was charged by the cavalry.

His colonel, the Colonel de Margnerye  was wounded with a bullet in his jaw and a deep sword cut...but did not surrender to the russin general...he was made prisoner and will return to France in August 1814.

During the battle, the regiment will be destroyed, solely 77 men out of 2200 will come back and cross the Berezina.

Recreated in mars 1813, the regiment will be in Hamburg and Mäesrtich with colonel Le Baillif  as a commanding under Marshall  Davout.

The Battle of Krasnoi from the 15 th to the 18 th of November 1812  was a series of skirmishes fought in the final stage of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. This encounter was noteworthy because of the heavy losses inflicted on the remnants of the Grande Armée by the Russians under General Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov.

Lacking sufficient artillery, cavalry and supplies to wage battle, Napoleon's object at Krasnoi was to collect his scattered troops and to resume his retreat. Despite the vast superiority of his forces, Kutusov refrained from launching a full-scale offensive during the four days of fighting.

The climax of the engagement occurred on November 17, when an aggressive feint by the French Imperial Guard induced Kutusov to delay a potentially decisive final Russian attack.

Napoleon was thus able to withdraw part of his army before the Russians seized Krasnoi.

Despite Napoleon's success in saving part of his army from destruction at Krasnoi, overall the encounter was ruinous to the French.

During the four days of combat Napoleon's subordinate commanders suffered heavy defeats in individual actions, and large numbers of French stragglers were captured by the Russians. The Grande Armée was also compelled to abandon much of its remaining artillery and baggage train.

Franco-Deutch infantry fighting at the Berezina crossing

Geert Adriaans Boomgaard, the first validated supercentenarian ever recorded, was a Dutchman born on 21 September 1788 and who died on 3 February 1899 at age 110 years, 135 days, he was a drummer at the 33ème Régiment Léger !

Battle of Krasnoi

Light Infantry uniforms

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