Was the bayonet truly a feared weapon?

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Was the bayonet truly a feared weapon?

Postby LordRamsay24 » 06 Oct 2016 22:36

The bayonet I am referring to is the triangular bayonet, which saw much use during the war of 1812 in North America, and the Napoleonic wars. I have heard that because of the triangular wound it inflicts it is not nessicarrily more lethal, but the wound is much harder to close. Was getting stabbed by this thing truly a near death sentence? Or is it less effective than I have been told? During the battle of Queenston heights in the war of 1812, the rather than face the British bayonet charge, many American soldiers jumped off the cliff to avoid the bayonet. So obviously this weapon was at least somewhat feared, but was it as effective, and feared as people seem to make it out to be?
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Re: Was the bayonet truly a feared weapon?

Postby swordflasher » 08 Oct 2016 09:50

I would think that someone faced with having a spike in the guts would not be worrying about how well the wound would close, and that a soldier with a big spike on the end of his his rifle or musket would feel more confidant about rushing towards people.

I've also wondered if just having a bayonet - and perhaps cleaning and sharpening it the night before battle - would give soldiers the feeling [read illusion] of having some power in a situation involving confusion and terror, drifting smoke, explosions, cannon balls, screaming wounded, people randomly trying to kill you and thousands of whizzing bits of lead.

Just thinking out loud. I look forward to hearing from those with more historical knowledge.
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Re: Was the bayonet truly a feared weapon?

Postby knirirr » 08 Oct 2016 12:05

swordflasher wrote:I've also wondered if just having a bayonet - and perhaps cleaning and sharpening it the night before battle - would give soldiers the feeling [read illusion] of having some power in a situation involving confusion and terror, drifting smoke, explosions, cannon balls, screaming wounded, people randomly trying to kill you and thousands of whizzing bits of lead.


I don't see how it could hurt as a psychological boost; the drill setting up the charge should also help achieve that effect as one progresses through the various commands*. I also note that the great length of a Brown Bess with a bayonet on is quite handy when facing cavalry, although the French cavalry I've faced are only interested in putting on a show and making a few cheeky remarks rather than killing me.

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* Port arms, charge bayonets, charge!
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