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Naval Cutlass Exercise and The Attack and Defence card

Date: 1809
Overall: 149 x 114 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Card
Object No: 00026458
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This card was contained in a copy of James Horsburgh’s 1809 Directions for sailing to and from the East Indies, China, New Holland, Cape of Good hope, Brazil and the interjacent ports. (00002670) It is an abbreviated version of basic naval cutlass excercises and was a reference chart for ship board training.

    SignificanceThe book is a rare and celebrated early Australian navigational directory. The card is a rare example of an instruction manual carried by British naval officers for cutlass training on ships.
    HistoryThe card is similar to the 1859 Instructions for the Exercise of Small Arms, Field Pieces etc., for use on Her Majesty's Ships and may have been extracted from this larger work.

    While the cutlass had been a favoured close quarters ship board weapon since the 1600s, the earliest manuals of instruction that appeared in the late 18th century pared down sword and fencing techniques to the bare essentials required in confined space sword fighting. This also made for ease of training vast numbers of sailors and new recruits. Despite their comparatively simple technique, British naval cutlass excercises from the 19th century were highly effective in practice. They were only discontinued in the British Navy in 1939.

    This book by James Horsburgh was published in 1809. It was chiefly compiled from the original journals at East India House and from the journals and observations Horsburgh made during 21 years navigating in the East Indies. Horsburgh's Directory was used throughout the first half of the 19th century for navigation through Asia.

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