For centuries the weapon considered most essential to cavalry had been the saber. Oddly enough, the US Army rarely saw fit to emphasize the training of its mounted men enough to make them sufficiently proficient with the saber to be deadly swordsmen in battle. There were saber exercises in the dragoon and mounted riflemen regiments, but these were hardly on a level with the training European cavalrymen experienced. All the mounted units of the US Army, from the Continental Dragoons to the modern cavalry, were armed with one type of saber or another. That is until the saber was finally discontinued as a cavalry weapon in 1934. The 1840 saber had the nickname, "Old Wristbreaker," because it was fairly easy for the soldier to break his wrist in combat if he held the saber wrong. The proper way to hold the saber was inverted and away from your body. Normally sabers were not sharpened because they were intended to be used for thrusting, not slashing. Used exclusively in close combat from horseback, the saber knot would be used as a strap and wrapped around the wrist to prevent the saber from being lost should it be dropped in battle.
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