16102 Washington’s Bodyguard Officer with Spontoon, No.1

W. Britains

Never primarily intended for combat, the spontoon was introduced to armies as a new symbol of officer rank. In drill formation, officers saluted with their spontoons, and could also use them to convey orders. Standing one vertically on the ground indicated a halt. Tilting the point forward signaled a forward movement; tilting it backward ordered a withdrawal. Spontoons were never popular in the Continental army and in 1776 many British officers stopped carrying pole arms because of a report that “the Americans were in the habit of picking off the officers,” and discarding their pole arms would “assimilate their appearance more to that of the men. 

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