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"Sinclairsabel" George Sinclair and his Scottish Mercenaries - Highlander Magazine - September/October 2001
Sally Spangler very kindly sent me scans of the article "George Sinclair and
his Scottish Mercenaries" from the September/October issue of Highlander
Magazine. I had just finished processing the images when a letter arrived
from Donald in Indianapolis with a copy of the article. Many thanks again
to you both!
As with all accounts of this event there are a few interesting new features
and a few departures from the reearched version of the story. For example,
poor Guri is given the double role of riding backwards on the horse, on the
"opposite hilltop" as well as playing her lur! With the article now in
front of me we can finally clarify the nature of the "Sinclairsabel". There
is a sketch in the article by the author, William McPeak, and the text with
the sketch reads:
"The Sinclairsabel. The cutlass-like short sword supposedly developed by
George Sinclair and used on his march through Norway. With its heavy,
slightly curved blade (about 25 to 27 inches) it was very efficient in
slashing and cutting in close quarter combat. The guard protecting the hilt
is called a sail guard, a plate of iron to protect the hand similar to the
basket and banded-type sword hilts of the late 16th and early 17th century
swords (sketch by author)."
In the text, repeating the above, the author adds:
"Sinclairsabel" - "sabel" being German for saber (US spelling, UK is
"sabre"). (George) Sinclair would be credited with developing this weapon,
although ...(they)... - were not only used by the Scots but also were found
in Germany and Central Europe and exported to Scandinavia."
The hilt of the sword is similar to the one in the War Museum at Kvam, which
has a curved, sabre blade, and similar to the hilt of the German straight
bladed sword also known as a "Sinclair sabre".
There is a strong suggestion that the Scots in 1612 were unarmed, or only
lightly armed. Short curved blades, cutlasses or sabres were not favoured
by infantry as only a straight blade, such as the double edged Highland
Broadsword, the English single edged backsword or the long double-handed
claymore (from Gaelic claidheamh-mór = great cleaver) could parry
effectively another weapon.
18th and 19th century infantry had a "hanger", with a short curved
blade, but this was largely decorative and a weapon of last resort, as the
bayonet, fitted to a musket, came into its own.
And if the Scots were, in fact. armed with short, curved blades in 1612, it
could explain how farmers with axes could have overcome them.
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