What is a Cutlass?
The cutlass is a short, single-edged sword that was used as a weapon of choice by sailors, pirates, and naval officers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the 16th century, when the Ottoman Empire introduced the curved sword to Europe. The cutlass, however, has a distinctly European design and was developed as a naval weapon to complement the use of guns and pistols.
The cutlass was an essential tool for sailors on board ships. It was used for a variety of purposes, including chopping ropes and clearing debris, as well as self-defense. Its curved design allowed for quick, efficient slashes, making it an effective weapon in close combat. The shorter blade made it particularly useful in closed quarters combat below deck.
One of the unique features of many cutlass is the use of brass fittings in its design. Brass was often used for the guard, pommel, and other parts of the sword because it was resistant to corrosion from saltwater. This was particularly important for sailors, who were often at sea for long periods and exposed to harsh elements.
Why did pirates use cutlasses?
Pirates used cutlasses for a variety of reasons. They were relatively cheap and easy to obtain, making them an ideal weapon and tool for sailors who had little money. The navy also used cutlasses, particularly during the Age of Sail, when ships relied on wind power and were frequently engaged in close combat. Cutlasses were issued to naval officers and sailors as a standard weapon, and they were often used in boarding actions and hand-to-hand combat.