German WW1 Captured French M1866 Chassepot Bayonet, 83rd Landwehr Regiment
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Single-fullered ‘yataghan’ downward-curving blade, cross hilt with muzzle ring and hooked lower quillon with round finial. Ribbed cast brass grip and beaked pommel, attached to the tang with two steel rivets, one of which secures the external leaf spring which actuates the locking catch. Black-painted steel scabbard with long frog hook. Blade length: 57.4cm (~22.5 inches), overall length 69.8cm (~27.5 inches), muzzle ring diameter 17mm.
This example is stamped on both the hilt and the scabbard with the German unit marking ’83.L.I.1.186.’, indicating that it belonged with rifle number 186, 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 83rd Landwehr Regiment (3rd Hessian). The blade is stamped at the forte on one side with two French ‘poincon’ inspection stamps. The spine of the blade is marked in cursive script ‘Mre Impale de Chatt, for Manufacture Imperiale de Chatellerault, and "Fbre 1867".
In the course of their victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the armies of the North German Confederation captured an estimated 600,000 French Mle 66 ‘Chassepot’ needle-rifles and their associated bayonets. Some were shortened and issued to the cavalry as carbines but most were kept in stores and designated for usage by the Landwehr and Landsturm. The Landwehr was an inactive reserve force consisting of men aged 27-39 who had previously passed through the regular army, which could be mobilised in case of war to immediately bolster the standing army. The Landsturm was a national reserve for home defense, consisting of men who had been exempted from military service, or former Landwehr men over the age of 39, up to the age limit of 45. These Chassepot bayonets had their original strap-loops replaced with German style frog hooks, and were given unit markings for their intended Landwehr regiments, although as the Landwehr remained inactive they were not issued until 1914. Some were modified to fit the M71, M71/84, M88 and M98 Mauser rifles – this example appears to be in its original configuration.
The blade is bright, with some very light pitting at the tip and patination at the forte next to the hilt. The tip of the blade has rolled. The tapered section of the blade forward of the fuller is slightly bent to the right, not enough to interfere with smooth sheathing. There are some very small nicks on the last 3½ inches of the blade. The hilt and steel parts in the grip have a dark patina. The brass grip has a few small dents. The scabbard is free of dents. It appears to have initially been painted red, then black paint was applied over the top. Some flaking, rubbing and scratching to the paint.