The Colichemarde is a thrusting sword, a deadly combination of speed and accuracy. It was the Close-Range weapon used by George Washington.
The Colichemarde was distinctive for its wide forte (the part of the blade closest to the handle) while the rest of the blade was much narrower.
- Length: 40 inches
- Weight: 1.5 lbs
The shape of the blade placed the weight of the blade near the hand, allowing it be maneuvered at greater speed and with a higher degree of control. Considered to be a descendant of the rapier, it was primarily a thrusting weapon. Like the Rapier, the Colichemarde was primarily a dueling weapon which saw limited action on the battlefields of Europe. However, it was popular with many officers during the French and Indian War, including George Washington. Similar strait swords were also used by Polish Hussar cavalry as a sidearm after they lost their lance, although Hussars also used sabers as well. The Colichemarde is shorter than traditional Rapiers; allowing it to be used on horseback.
The Colichemarde was pitted against the French Cavalry Saber of Napoleon. The two weapons were shown tested from horseback against three slabs of pig then told to dismount and deliver three more strikes. Both swords were able to kill all three targets, but the edge was given to the Colichemarde due to it being a weapon designed to counter a saber.
The Continental Army began the Revolutionary War with limited cavalry, both in regards to troop quantity and quality. Washington was aware of the advantages the British Dragoons had in the war, and so quickly built up the first professional American cavalry units.
Casimir Pulaski is credited with being "The Father of American Cavalry". He was an officer of The War of the Bar Confederation, but fled into exile when the war was lost. Washington recruited him to organize the first American Dragoons. He would die as a result of a grapeshot injury during The Siege of Savannah on October 11, 1779.
- While Washington did indeed own a Colichemarde, it was only one of many swords Washington owned. Washington personally owned over fifteen swords.