Prussian M1889 Cavalry Sword, 8th Dragoon Regiment / Dragoner-Regiment Konig Friedrich III. (2. Schlesisches) Nr. 8
Pipeback blade with false edge and spear point, steel pierced half basket hilt bearing the eagle emblem of Prussia within a circle. Steel pommel and ferrule, one-piece brown Bakelite grip ribbed and with a protrusion for the index finger, secured by two rivets. Black leather washer. Steel scabbard with single fixed hanging ring and frog loop, its throat piece with two screws. Blade 32¼ inches in length, the sword 37¾ inches overall.
The ricasso of the blade is stamped on one side with the maker’s mark ‘F.A. Hermes Solingen’. The inside of the guard and the top section of the scabbard near the throat are both identically stamped ‘8.D.5.31’, indicating that they are a matching pair and that this was weapon number 31 of the 5th squadron of the 8th Dragoon Regiment (Dragoner-Regiment Nr. 8). The throat of the scabbard is also stamped ‘5.31.’ to match. The inside of the guard is also stamped with a small ‘8’ (or possibly S) while the scabbard is also stamped with small letters T and F. The spine is stamped at the forte with an inspection mark, as well as a crown over ‘W’ and ‘9_’ – this has partly rubbed but indicates a manufacture date in the 1890s.
These swords were standard issue for German light cavalry regiments, which made up about 90% of all German cavalry as of 1914. The lance was their primary weapon when in the saddle, followed by the pistol, leaving the sword as a backup weapon. Its stiff blade and pistol grip are designed for the thrust, with limited cutting ability. Swords saw most action with the German cavalry early in the war, during the highly mobile period of fighting in 1914 – they were carried less and less from July 1915 on as cavalry increasingly fought as mounted infantry, and many regiments were dismounted altogether in 1916, with only 20% still mounted at the end of the war.
The 8th Dragoon Regiment was originally formed in 1860. It recruited in the Prussian province of Silesia in the eastern part of the German Empire. Almost all of the province today lies within Poland and Czechia. It took part in the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars as the 2nd Silesian Dragoon Regiment No. 8. In 1888 its name was modified to commemorate the German Emperor Frederick (or Friedrich) III, who ruled for only 99 days before his death in that year. During WW1 it fought as part of the 11th Cavalry Brigade. It deployed to the Western Front until October 1914, after which it was moved to the Eastern Front. It was dismounted in October 1916 and fought as infantry until its dissolution in February 1918.
The blade has been sharpened with some grinding marks, it has no edge damage. A few spots of patination to the outside of the guard, patination and some very light pitting to the inside of the guard. The grip has visible cracking and a chip next to one of the rivets but is solid in the hand with no movement. Light pitting to the pommel. A few dents to the midsection of the scabbard, smaller more numerous dents towards the chape. None of the dents interfere with sheathing and drawing.