Jolie Rouge

Cutlass combat

44 posts in this topic

I've recently looked in ta the finer points o' deliverin' the finer points to those who need it, and ran across the NAVAL CUTLASS EXERCISE from a naval manual datin' ta the late 1800s. What I be wantin ta know is; do any o' ya pirates out there know o' more cutlass learnin' documents out there, or have ideas, or thougts on usin' a cutlass. I would like ta add that I don't be searchin' fer rapier fencing, or things relatin' ta armored combat, or "hit them with the sharp end". Anything ya got would help me plenty. Thankee kindly.

B)

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Here be a few t' start ye' on yer way Jolie Rogue...

Saviolo's Fencing Instruction Manual - 1594

PDF File of 18th c. Manual on Hungarian Highland Broadsword and Cutlass Techniques

There are a variety of facinating historic documents on the use of the sword, from the 15th century through 1877 onDuello Documents

The Armarium has historic fencing manuals and illustrations on-line from Viking and 12th century Danish through the 19th Century

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Jolie Rouge.... There are plenty of books out there. But, books and even here, it is hard to learn without real hands on training. There are a few basic, and simple elements that I would be happy to pass on to you.

one... Always keep your head back and your body upright. I know this sounds common sense and easy, but, trust me it takes practice.

two...A basic stance to start with is a boxers stance. Have your body a bit to the side and keep your hands up. This will allow you to have your sword ready and your other hand can be used as a blocking tool should you need it.

three...try your best to not watch your opponents body. A good swordsman can use body language to fake you out and land thier shot first. Keep your look on thier face and sword. And remember a blocking move keeps you alive to fight. Do not always go for the fast kill. It doesn't always work

Also, remember that a cutlass is a single edged weapon. Use it for both slash and thrust. Also, in true fighting, the hilt would also be used to punch an opponent with. The flat of the blade was used to also hit someone with. And it is always good to try to block another sword with the flat of the blade. To sharp edges hitiing each other will seriously damage the sword....... hope this helps........ The Capt.

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As far as hands-on experience, there are a couple of ways to get it.

The simpler way is to join an experienced reenactor's guild and learn choreographed swordplay. Lots of fun and flashy. Ya look cool and it's fun.

The second is to take the longer, slower and more difficult route, but the payoff is greater. Sign up for fencing. You'll start with foil, move on to epee and eventually sabre (which uses cutlass technique). fencing is tough. Way, waaaaaaaay tough. Like no sport I've ever been in. The discipline required is enormous. You won't look cool, either. But you'll learn a great deal about yourself and the rush you get when you take on an opponent is awesome!

Accidents happen in both types of hands-on swordplay. Although there are rare accidents in fencing, you are pretty well protected. You'll get bruised, banged up and sore, but it is very rare that a fencer actually gets skewered. That usually happens when a blade breaks on an enthusiastic thrust. I've broken blades myself, but never skewered an opponent. I do know reenactors who have been sliced.

My fencing experience was minimal. I had to drop out after a few months of lessons, due to work committments. I'm hoping to start back up at a later time.

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Hands on experience can come in many forms. Personally speaking; I have not found fencing to be to much like other sword fighting. However, it can teach balance and cordination. Both of these things are essential to any sword fighting. Also, be careful of choreographed fighting. While it may help with some technique; it can impair your ability to fight in a more natural form. There are people I have met and fought with who studied fencing for many years. They also had a hard time adapting to straight up sword fights. The same for those I have met who have done nothing but staged ( choreographed ) work. That is not to say all who use these techniques fall into this trap. Just saying that through my own personal experience; many of those I have met do.

Find the books and do the reading. But, also try to find those who use NON- choreographed fighting to really gain experience. Also it is very important to NOT fight the same people all the time. The only way to get better, is to find new people who are better than you are and learn.. It is a really fun activity that only gets better over time. Let me know how you make out.......... The Capt.

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In all honesty I believe the average pirate really didn't have fancy attacks with his/her cutlass and so no and was just happy to hit something with it. You also know how accurate those guns were too! :ph34r:

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:huh: I'm sure alla us pyrates watched pyrate weapons on the History channels Conquest Sunday. Pretty much summed it up, it think :angry: :ph34r::ph34r::ph34r:

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Good points Captain Flint!

I guess it all depends on what a person wants to get out of sword fighting, as to what kind of hands-on experience to go after. I'm just glad to be born in a generation where I have options as to how I would like to learn to use swords, rather than actually having to defend life and limb with one! I'd likely be cut to ribbons if I really had to defend myself! :ph34r:

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Thankee all fer yer thoughts on the matter, it's been wonderful help that ya 'ave offered it has. I be weel aware that yer average pirate just hackin' away till it works, but who said I be yer average pirate?

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Aye, Jolie, I'm sure that the more practiced and skilled the pirate was with the sword, the better his chances of survivin'.

I did see the "Pirate Weapons" episode of CONQUEST. I thought there were a number of errors and debatable points (that pirates were armed with Highland broadswords, or that such would have been any the more practical as shipboard weapons than heavy-bladed rapiers).

I was very interested in the way Woodward demonstrated the pirates (alleged) use of sword and pistol in tandem: Sword in the dominant hand, pistol in the weaker; fire the pistol at point blank range, drop it and draw another or handshift it and strike with the butt, if it's you're only pistol.

Does anyone have any period documentation for such a technique?

Capt. William

:ph34r:

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The following excerpt is from an article printed in the Boston News-Letter, Feb 23rd to March 2nd, 1719 on the death of Edward Teach (or Edward Thatch), aka Blackbeard-

"Maynard and Teach tehmselves begun the fight with their swords, Maynard making a thrust, the point of his sword went against Teach's cartridge box, and bended it to the hilt. Teach broke the guard of it, and wounded Maynard's fingers but did not disable him, whereupon he jumped back and threw away his sword and fired his pistol which wounded Teach. Demelt struck in between them with his sword and cut Teach's face pretty much; in the interim both companies engaged in Maynard's sloop, one of Maynard's men being a Highlander, engaged Teach with his broad sword, who gave teach a cut on the neck, Teach saying well done lad; the Highlander replied If it be not well done, I'll do it better. With that he gave him a second stroke, which cut off his head, laying it flat on his shoulder."

I have found very few Blackbeard historians mention this article at all. Why, I'm not sure. It is relatively contemporary to the time of Blackbeard's death in 1718, only a couple of months afterwards. But here is mention of a broadsword being used by one of Lt. Maynard's crew, specifically a highlander, to make the final death blow that killed Blackbeard. Funny that it is the only mention I've ever seen of the crewman on Maynard's crew being a Highlander.

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I have found very few Blackbeard historians mention this article at all. Why, I'm not sure.  It is relatively contemporary to the time of Blackbeard's death in 1718, only a couple of months afterwards. But here is mention of a broadsword being used by one of Lt. Maynard's crew, specifically a highlander, to make the final death blow that killed Blackbeard. Funny that it is the only mention I've ever seen of the crewman on Maynard's crew being a Highlander.

Nor is iot ever mentioned of a white light and lightning emerging from Blackbeard's neck and plunging into the body of Highlander. Sorry I couldn't help that! There a book by I think Henry Angelo that gives 18th c. cutlass drills it maybe "Ecole des Armes" or something like that. Just because these men were mostly common seaman dosen't mean they couldn't do well with a blade they had plenty of time and great motivation to practice. They would have also fouth with anything that came to hand. Tech definatley knew how to defend himself. When they examined his corpse it had 25 stab wounds and 5 bullets in it. Which is why it makes me wonder about that Highlander ;-)

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Based on just about every book I have ever read on the subject; all the facts you all have listed are true. It is documented that Teach was stabbed multiple times and had around 5 shots in him. It is also claimed that a highlander is the one that layed the death blow to the ol' capt. I have different books that say two different things though. Some claim the highlander used a broadsword. Some say otherwise. None claim he used a heavy claymore sword.

I have also read in many many books that sword and pistol were used in tandum. That the pistol was indeed fired once and then either tossed for a second one or used as a club. As far as what types of swords were carried then . I know there are several books out there titled .... The Sword.... Unfortunately, I cannot remember the author of the one I am refering to , but, it is an illustrated book and very large with a white cover. It goes into detail about the different swords used and when they were popular. It is filled , and I mean filled, with photos of many authentic pieces from the time, accompanied with dates. If anyone can help with the writers name , please tell us. Let me know what you think about this. I love this topic............ The Capt.

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Them basket hilted broad swords what the highlanders used was still termed "claymore" by them Scots. Also, have ya ever noticed that pistols o' that time frame are built in sich a manner that ya could hold them upside down, an' backwards? Which I might add it would be handy ta have a long piece o' metal an' wood linin' the forearm o' yer free hand.

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I did a bit of reading the other evening in "Blackbeard the Pirate, A Reappraisal of His Life and Times" by Robt. E. Lee.

Towards the conclusion of the book, it states that the following quote comes from a letter dated Sept. 14th, 1721; addressed to the Lords Commissioners of Admiralty (unpublished manuscript Admiralty 1/1826, Public Record Office, London) from George Gordon, Lt. Maynard's superior officer. This letter "positively denies" that Maynard went on Blackbeard's sloop before he was killed!

"...This, Sirs, is the true and real steps of that action, given in upon oath at his Majesty's Court of Admiralty in Virginia, by himself and people, the truth of which if need by Lt. Governor Spotswood can judge as also Capt. Brand: there being no such thing given out there of his boarding Thatch sword in hand; as his is pleased to tell"

(the author also notes that all other contemporary accounts use Teach rather than Thatch)

The same book also has several contemporary newspaper articles giving conflicting information on the details of Blackbeard's death as well as Lt. Maynard's letters, written after the fact and containing some conflicting information.

All we know for sure is that when they brought in ol' Blackbeard's head, it looked like this:

:blink:

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It makes sense that Maynard would not have boarded Blackbeard's ship. Since he was in command of a vessel, leaving it would have been construed as deserting his post in time of action. Naval boarding parties were led by subordinate officers, not the skipper.

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Ummm.....Claire, you do have a good point there about the Hughlander and his broadsword sending old Teach off to Davy Jones; I remember that story, but didn't think of it in conjunction with my own question.

However. it's also true that sword terms are often used loosely.

On another list of mine

http:www.axemoor@yahoogroups.com

I'm running a series on a War of 1812 battle bwtween the CHEASPEAKE and the SHANNON. Capt. Broke, of the English SHANNON, carried (and cleaned up Yanks with!) an ancestral Scottish broadsword. But it had a shortened blade, to make it more wieldy aboard; and a simpler hilt.

I reckon that like every thing else in life, you couldn't say yes / no 100% of the time. Were there many bayonet kills in Vietnam? I doubt it. Would it follow then theat there were NONE? I doubt that even more!

:blink:

Capt. William

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Tales of the seven seas...... I have read the book you stated about Blackbeard a couple of times now. The author also points out several of the variations on Teaches name, besides Thatch and Teach. He also lends other sources for both the idea of Maynard being on board as well as not being on board with Blackbeard. He makes sure to point out also the fact that except for the few accounts written near the end of Blackbeards life, a great deal of things about the man are subject to conjecture.

John Maddox Roberts..... your point is valid, but, do not forget that Maynards force was limited in size. That the ground forces he was counting on didn't arrive in time and that his other sloop with him for the attack got grounded as he was working on engaging Teach. I not dissagreeing with any of you. I simply am trying to point out the other facts as well. What really happened there, no one will ever know for certain. All we can go on is what is written........ The Capt.

By the way Capt. William. Did you like the story of the Chesapeake and the Shannon. It was an interesting battle.

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It was my understanding that Blackbeard boarded Maynard's vessel, not vice versa. Whereupon Maynard's men charged up from below decks and gave Blackbeard and his crew a fight they hadn't been expecting.

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Just sailin' here through these waters and noticed that Capt. Flint had mentioned my name as re the SHANNON and CHESAPEAKE. Aye, what a battle that was! As related in Gilkerson, he even had me rootin' fer the bad guys! :ph34r:

I'm sendin' out a series of messages about period nautical warfare, based on this battle, on my Seadogges list.

Capt. William

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It was my understanding that Blackbeard boarded Maynard's vessel, not vice versa. Whereupon Maynard's men charged up from below decks and gave Blackbeard and his crew a fight they hadn't been expecting.

Yes, it has been said that after a string of grenade attacks from Blackbeards men (Small clay pot they filled with powder, rusty nails, and small shot) that Maynard used the smoke from this and the lingering cannon smoke in the air as a chance to slip out o fsight. He took all his men blow deck, adn waited for Blackbeard to board the ship. Once he was on board, that's when the epic battle between Maynard and Blackbeard took place. All of this is things I've gathered over the years of playing Blackbeard the pirate,and also working as a pirate historian with the people at Teach's Hole in Ocracoke NC

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I reckon that like every thing else in life, you couldn't say yes / no 100% of the time. Were there many bayonet kills in Vietnam? I doubt it. Would it follow then theat there were NONE? I doubt that even more!

Remarkably off-topic, but there was a Vietnam vet I worked for, who was a LRP, and he carried a bayonet scar that pretty much wrecked the muscles in his tricep for life. Obviously not a kill, but definitely a wound. And he did say it was a bayonet, specifically, and not a hand-held knife.

Ok...back to yer regularly scheduled piratical discussion...

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I personally observed quite a few bayonet attacks from both us and the V.C. at rather ugly times when I was doing erection of material handling systems in 'Nam, usually when one or the other was quite overrun..My own brother-in-law, now deceased Major, U.S.M.C. was repeatedly bayoneted AFTER being quite heavily machine-gunned during the Tet offensive....Go figure........didn't know this was a topic.....

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It makes sense that Maynard would not have boarded Blackbeard's ship. Since he was in command of a vessel, leaving it would have been construed as deserting his post in time of action. Naval boarding parties were led by subordinate officers, not the skipper.

What then of Nelson at Cape St. Vincent?

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