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Civil War bayonet drill

This is a discussion on Civil War bayonet drill within the Gus Fisher forums, part of the Gun Professionals category; Gus, you mentioned your study of Civil War era bayonet combat in a post somewhere, would you mind naming your source? It sounded pretty interesting, ...


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Old April 4th, 2012, 08:36 PM   #1
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Civil War bayonet drill

Gus, you mentioned your study of Civil War era bayonet combat in a post somewhere, would you mind naming your source? It sounded pretty interesting, I think it'd be fun to try to learn.

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Old April 4th, 2012, 11:41 PM   #2
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To paraphrase Daffy Duck:

Fire! "Thrust! Parry! Spin!"


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Old April 5th, 2012, 04:03 AM   #3
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U.S. General GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN turned out to be a POOR Commander of the Army of the Potomac TWICE, though he was probably the best Quartermaster and Army Builder the U.S. had seen up to that time. I don't remember the exact quote, but Lincoln wrote him something like, "If you do not wish to use the fine Army you built up, may I?" Most people remember McClellan for his disasterous or lackluster campaigns OR the saddle named after him, but he did come up with a good Bayonet Drill prior to the war.


http://drillnet.net/Bayonet.htm

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Old April 5th, 2012, 05:38 AM   #4
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I remember reading about bayonets in the book On Killing. Something about being stabbed by a bayonet is more feared than being shot. Soldiers would turn their muskets around and use them as clubs before using their bayonet, because they felt if they didn't try to stab their opponents their opponents would not try to stab them.

I'm paraphrasing of course, but that always struck me as interesting. A graphic illustration of this (fear of being stabbed) would probably be the scene from Saving Private Ryan where the German soldier wrestles around with the US Soldier and ends up (slowly) stabbing him in the heart.

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Old April 5th, 2012, 05:46 AM   #5
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My earliest book on the subject of infantry tactics is ABSTRACT of INFANTRY TACTICS, Boston 1830. Under the section of Light Infantry and Riflemen it covers bayonet exercises well and with numerous illustrations of soldiers wearing shakos. The label inside the front cover states that at one time it was property of the commanding officer of an infantry regiment in the State of Maine, and his successors. I believe this was the manual still in use during the early Civil War period. The 134 page book is leather covered and is my earliest TM.

I come across many Northern bayonets at reasonable prices, but those of Confederate issue are a rarity. So much so, that I've only had two during the past fifty plus years. My only example is one manufactured for the State of Georgia at Harpers Ferry before the war for the 1842 Springfield. It's identical to its yankee counterpart except that it's stamped "S.G" on the ricasso. Their curator told me that they have an identical example in their collection.

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Old April 5th, 2012, 05:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gus Fisher View Post
U.S. General GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN turned out to be a POOR Commander of the Army of the Potomac TWICE, though he was probably the best Quartermaster and Army Builder the U.S. had seen up to that time. I don't remember the exact quote, but Lincoln wrote him something like, "If you do not wish to use the fine Army you built up, may I?" Most people remember McClellan for his disasterous or lackluster campaigns OR the saddle named after him, but he did come up with a good Bayonet Drill prior to the war.


http://drillnet.net/Bayonet.htm
Thanks Gus. I remember learning about McClellan in history. He and just about every other general Lincoln put in charge did not seem interested in pursuing a routing opponent, up until he finally put Grant in charge I believe. Then Grant let Sherman loose in Georgia and the rest is history. I perfectly understand Lincoln's sentiments with 20/20 hindsight .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philz M1A View Post
I remember reading about bayonets in the book On Killing. Something about being stabbed by a bayonet is more feared than being shot. Soldiers would turn their muskets around and use them as clubs before using their bayonet, because they felt if they didn't try to stab their opponents their opponents would not try to stab them.

I'm paraphrasing of course, but that always struck me as interesting. A graphic illustration of this (fear of being stabbed) would probably be the scene from Saving Private Ryan where the German soldier wrestles around with the US Soldier and ends up (slowly) stabbing him in the heart.
The scene where "Bull" Randleman gets trapped behind the lines of a German counterattack comes to mind, where he has to defend himself against the German soldier in the barn, whose Mauser luckily jammed. One of my favorite scenes in the series.


EDIT: Uh oh, the figures for movements 50-51 and for movements 56-58 are missing. Have to try to find them elsewhere, but at least I know what to look for now.


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Old April 5th, 2012, 07:54 AM   #7
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Found a typo in McClellans manual. Plate VII depicting "The Thrust with the Development" labels the movement as "Lunge with the Development", when in fact the former is the more approrpiate description for the image provided and movement described. This is the same both on your link and another I found. Just goes to show everyone makes mistakes!

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Old April 5th, 2012, 09:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philz M1A View Post
I remember reading about bayonets in the book On Killing. Something about being stabbed by a bayonet is more feared than being shot. Soldiers would turn their muskets around and use them as clubs before using their bayonet, because they felt if they didn't try to stab their opponents their opponents would not try to stab them.

I'm paraphrasing of course, but that always struck me as interesting. A graphic illustration of this (fear of being stabbed) would probably be the scene from Saving Private Ryan where the German soldier wrestles around with the US Soldier and ends up (slowly) stabbing him in the heart.
I don't know how many times I've heard NPS rangers and tour guides say that deaths or wounds by bayonets in the Civil War were very uncommon. There are even a couple of original sources I've seen that in. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY when I see that because it leads one to a totally incorrect conclusion. They took the casualty rates from Field Hospitals, though they took the death rates from there as well and the battlefields and morning reports.

When a soldier got a bayonet stuck in his belly or chest, they usually LEFT him on the battlefield to die BECAUSE they did not have adequate surgiical procedures or the number of surgeons to SAVE them. There was a very simplistic Triage that went on where they took the casualites they thought they COULD save first. So in fact, many more men were killed by the bayonet during the war than the usual counts state.

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Old April 5th, 2012, 01:12 PM   #9
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By the way, if anyone's wondering, this is one awesome manual. Gonna try this stuff with a friend who has a CZ 98/22. Obviously not going to go 1v1 unless we manage to stumble across some pads, but still.

Now I'm curious how the exercises would be altered for knife bayonets

ETA: In response to Gus's note about flawed bayonet death statistics, I'm thinking the phenomenon is linked somehow to the military's move away from the bayonet in modern times. I think I even heard they removed it from Army basic; either that or they nerfed it further.


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Old April 5th, 2012, 04:25 PM   #10
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I guess now I have a use for that bayonet that came with my Yugo 24/47 Mauser. Better practice when the wife is not at home.

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Old April 5th, 2012, 06:01 PM   #11
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Laus, hunt down some pugil sticks, you & your friend can whale on each other hammer & tongs w/o blood.

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Old April 5th, 2012, 07:02 PM   #12
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Missing images

Heres the missing plates I think you were looking for....
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSC01720.jpg (17.3 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg DSC01721.jpg (14.9 KB, 10 views)

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Old April 6th, 2012, 05:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiram325 View Post
Laus, hunt down some pugil sticks, you & your friend can whale on each other hammer & tongs w/o blood.
I freaking love pugil sticks. I may hate sucked at boxing at military school, but I kicked ass with padded sticks. I was planning on making my own eventually, maybe even making a set of long ones for musket simulation. Somehow I didn't connect my pugil stick idea to this particular bayonet training... so thanks lol.

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Old April 6th, 2012, 05:31 AM   #14
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Thrust and parry with pugil sticks was taken very seriously at MCRD and "whupping up real good" on your oponent was mandatory. After it was all over, our senior DI asked what we were supposed to do if attacked by an enemy with a fixed bayonet. The only correct answer was "shoot the SOB" and as I recall, nobody got it right.

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Old April 6th, 2012, 06:33 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LausDeo View Post
By the way, if anyone's wondering, this is one awesome manual. Gonna try this stuff with a friend who has a CZ 98/22. Obviously not going to go 1v1 unless we manage to stumble across some pads, but still.

Now I'm curious how the exercises would be altered for knife bayonets

ETA: In response to Gus's note about flawed bayonet death statistics, I'm thinking the phenomenon is linked somehow to the military's move away from the bayonet in modern times. I think I even heard they removed it from Army basic; either that or they nerfed it further.
The Marine Corps has definitely NOT moved away from teaching the bayonet, though the basic moves are not nearly involved as McClellan's Drill manual.

With a bayonet that has a cutting blade, different types of slashing attacks are added. There is the horizontal slash where you cut the enemy's throat and the vertical slash where you rip him open from shoulder to crotch or at an angle across and down his body through his gut. The manual has also been modified in case we wind up fighting people with protective vests.

I can't remember or can't pronounce the place, but Marines in Afghanistan found out a couple of years ago that you STILL need the bayonet. They were a small force sent out on reconaissance and ran into a large force of enemy fighters. With good marksmanship, they were not only holding their own against greater odds, but they were ripping the enemy apart until they began to run low on ammo. At that point they fixed bayonets and began to use them to conserve ammo. The ferocity of the Marine attacks actually hurt enough of the enemy that thei morale suffered and they did not press their advantage by the numbers they had. That gave enough time for other Marines to come in support of the surrounded Marines and the enemy moved off smartly (read that ran the "F" away) when the odds came close to being equal. Of course, the surrounded Marines already had a good pile of enemy dead in front of their position by that time.

The Army downgraded close combat and bayonet fighting when they gave in to "political correctness" and started training men and women side by side in Boot Camp. We Marines caught Heck about that for some time because we kept our Male and Female Recruiits separated. It did not take too many years when many in the Army were saying they had screwed up by doing what they did.

HOWEVER, THANK GOD the Army wisened up before the first Desert Storm and started training against dedicated opposiing forces in their OPFOR training area in CA. A whole BUNCH of Battalion and Regimental Commanders got their butts handed to them and they learned BEFORE their troops took heavy casulties. That is part of the reason the Army did so well in Desert Storm and more recent conflicts. Of course, they also had a Brilliant Commander in Norm Schwartzkopf who showed "The New Army" how to do things right "The Old Way."

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