The colichemarde was distinctive for its wide forte (the part of the blade closest to the handle) while the rest of the blade was much narrower.
The shape of the blade placed the weight of the blade near the hand, allowing it be maneuvered at greater speed and with a higher degree of control. Considered to be a descendant of the rapier, it was primarily a thrusting weapon. Like the rapier, the colichemarde was primarily a dueling weapon which saw limited action on the battlefields of Europe. However, it was popular with many officers during the French and Indian War, including George Washington.
The Colichemarde was pitted against the French Cavalry Saber of Napoleon. The two weapons were shown tested from horseback against three slabs of pig then told to dismount and deliver three more strikes. Both swords were able to kill all three targets, but the edge was given to the Colichemarde due to it being a weapon designed to counter a saber.
- While Washington did indeed own a colichemarde, it was only one of many swords Washington owned. Washington personally owned over fifteen swords.