Principals for the Instruction of the Broadsword, 1869

This text was written by A. J. Corbesier, sword-master of the U.S. Naval Academy, and published in 1869 by the authority of Vice Admiral Porter. While titled “broadsword”, the text refers to the weapon as a saber.


Like many of the Italian systems the blade is divided into half: “Le fort” and “Le faible”.

Corbesier’s fourth is called Quarte. What we know as first and third are not described in the introduction. There is a second, but he calls it Tierce.

The moulinet is stressed ad an import exercise for building strength and suppleness in the wrists, and for improving the effectiveness of the cuts. The exercise is described as…

(Hand in Tierce.) At the command “Moulinet!” the point of the saber must be dropped and brought up again to the rear, grazing the left shoulder, back to its original position, thus de-scribing a complete circle. (Pl.

image  image


There are only three lessons in this text. The first lesson covers the moulinets and general marching instructions.

The second lessons adds the two guards, one in tierce and the other in quarte. Basic footwork, cuts, and thrusts are covered in this lesson.


Lesson 3 adds parries, counter-attacks, and feints.

An addenda includes six more lessons structured around specific drills composed of attacks and ripostes. They are brief and meant to refine what was learned in the three primary lessons. Here is an example:


Here is a link to the full Principles of Squad Instruction for the Broadsword 1869.

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