Object of the Month - March 2024

25 March, 2024

SA 6/110 Jacob Rifle and Sword Bayonet

Brigadier-General John Jacob developed his rifle over many years and placed an order with Swinburn & Son of Birmingham for 900 shortly before he died in 1858. These were supplied and used by the Jacob’s Rifles Battalion for a short period after he died. They were then withdrawn and replaced with the British standard pattern. Some were used in the American Civil War whilst others were sold to American traders who listed them as Elephant rifles.

The overall length is 40 inches with a 24-inch double barrel of 0.524 calibre percussion with a maximum range of 1829 m (2,000 yds). It fired different rounds including a fulminate of mercury exploding bullet able to destroy artillery caissons at long range. The Bayonet has a double edge blade with double fullers 76 cm (30 in) long and with a cut-out basket guard in the Scottish Highland style.  It has a double ring mounting over the barrel and side clip fixing.  Both rifle and bayonet are considered rare items within the collection.

John Jacob was born in Woolavington, Somerset in 1812, the son of a priest. He was schooled by his father obtaining a cadetship at 14 to the East India Company’s academy at Addiscombe Military Seminary.  He graduated in 1828 with a second lieutenancy in the Bombay Artillery and served during the First Afghan War (1839-42) with the Scinde Irregular Horse where his considerate manner with the native troops under his command was brought to the attention of the authorities.

In 1841 he was offered regimental command by Sir James Outram which he accepted. His first action in 1842 was as a Brevet Captain at the Battle of Meanee with British forces. His regiment figured largely in the conquest of the Scinde in 1843 and fighting border tribesmen. For his services he was made Companion of the Order of the Bath. 

A second regiment of horse, called Jacob’s Horse, was formed in November 1846.   In 1847 he was placed in charge of the frontier with his Headquarters at Khangurh. This was soon renamed Jacobabad in his honour in 1851 (now in present day Pakistan) because of his efforts improving the living conditions for the local populace. His fame spread throughout Northern India and in April 1855 he was gazetted Lieutenant-Colonel and the following year Acting Commissioner in Sind.  At the outbreak of the Anglo-Persian War (1856-1857) Jacob was given command of the Cavalry and departed for Persia.  He was raised to the rank of Brigadier-General and appointed Aide-de Camp to Queen Victoria.  The 1857 Indian Rebellion saw Jacob wishing to return to England but unfinished business in the important commercial port of Bushire kept him in India. He eventually returned to Jacobabad where he died on the 6 December 1858.

Both the 36th Sind Horse and the 36th Jacob’s Horse saw active service in northern and central India, Persia and Afghanistan and in France during The First World War. They were amalgamated in 1921 and known as the 14th Prince of Wales’ Own Scinde Horse.