No. 46 Sadler’s Sharp Shooters


(see original 1799 description below)

Rowlandson, Thomas, “Sadlers flying artillery” (1798). Prints, Drawings and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.

James Sadler (February 1753 – 28 March 1828) was the first English balloonist, as well as a chemist and pastry chef. He is principally known as a balloonist, but he was a prolific inventor, and the War Chariot was a concept of his, although whether it was ever actually created is open to doubt. Some copies of the original book contained this aquatint of the Flying Artillery. Others did not.  This (Hugh Evelyn Edition) did not. Although a celebrity in his own time, Sadler is largely unknown today. This has been partly attributed to his lack of writing any works and partly to class prejudice: he was only a pastry chef and not formally educated. Despite being a resident of Oxford and an accomplished scientist, the university mostly ignored him and academics looked down on him. While obituaries for Sadler were written elsewhere on his death, the university’s own newspaper wrote simply, “Mr James Sadler, elder brother of Mr Sadler of Rose Hill, Oxford, has died.”

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Original Description of the unit from 1798:
THIS Corps was partly formed under the direction of Mr. Sadler, of Pimlico,  a very ingenious Machinist, inventor of the celebrated War Chariot, in which  two persons, advancing or retreating, can manage two Pieces of Ordnance  (three-pounders) with alacrity, and in safety, so as to do execution at the  distance of two furlongs.  The annexed Engraving represents a Private of this Corps, defending himself with Sadler’s Patent Gun, and long cutting Bayonet.  The Sharp Shooters at present (August 1, 1799) are but inconsiderable in  number, but it is intended to extend them to a degree of respectability, and  then join with the Westminster Associations. Their excellency is that of  certainty in their aim, equal to the Riflemen of America.  This Corps, we are informed, is shortly to be officered by the Honourable  the Board of Ordnance; at present it remains in so imperfect a state as  not to admit of illustration satisfactory to the Public.

Additional information

Weight 0.0121 kg
Dimensions 25.5 × 32.5 cm


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