ALS – Richard Rush To Joel Poinsett- 1840 On The Bayonet


An interesting letter regarding the use of the Bayonet by French in Africa.

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ALS From Richard Rush To Joel Poinsett

ALS by Richard Rush, to Secretary of War, Joel R. Poinsett, dated near Philadelphia, August 21, 1840.

The letter appears to hold some interest for both the writer and recipient, and the fear that a friend may miss out on some pertinent news, military in nature, involving Arabs under Emir Abdelkader and the French army in Africa. The subject, if I may, points to the inferiority of the French bayonet to that of the Arab sword. Rush concludes with citing a book about the bayonet by a Colonel Mitchell.

As of yet I have found no reference to Lt. Col. J. Mitchell’s book on the bayonet, but I found a November 1839 letter published in the United Service Magazine, Volume 31, entitled “Colonel Mitchell in reply to the different Letters in Favour of the Bayonet,” where he responds to Col. Napier’s (an historian and one of Wellington’s Colonels) articles and the positive uses of the bayonet by the Army.   Mitchell counters with several examples where the bayonet was all but useless. Other officers have offered their views on the issue, and makes for an enlightening view of the much cherished infantry weapon.

Col. Mitchell’s views were not taken seriously by many in any army at the time, as the bayonet has stood the test, and still remains the infantry’s choice for close combat. The article is very good reading, and the colonel’s command of the England language cuts and parries equally well against the weapon he seems not to favor highly.

I am wondering why Rush would bring to the attention of the Secretary of War, this account of a French military unit using their bayonets and suffering against Arabs with swords, then referring to this letter by Col. Mitchell? Was there a question in our military as to the attributes of the bayonet? To my knowledge only the sword bayonet for the new 1841 Rifle was being developed, and I thought that was a few years in the future to the date of this letter. Certainly worth doing some research.

The letter is written entirely in Rush’s hand; finished with a bold signature. The cover no doubt franked is AOWL.

A very clean letter, wonderfully balanced in appearance, and with interesting content; most suitable for framing.

Richard Rush (August 29, 1780 – July 30, 1859) was US Attorney General under James Madison; Sec. of the Treasury under John Quincy Adams as well as his running mate on the National ticket in 1828. US Minister to England and France at various times.

Joel R. Poinsett served as Secretary of War from March 7, 1837, to March 5, 1841.

Sylvain-Charles, comte Valée (17 December 1773 – 16 August 1846), Marshal of France.

Abdelkader ibn Muhieddine (6 September 1808 – 26 May 1883), know as the Emir Abdelkader; was an Algerian “Sharif” religious and military leader who led a struggle against the French colonial invasion in the mid 19th C.

Reference the photos for condition and detail.

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Weight .50 lbs