Bayonet drill

Dave Wilma

2nd Lieutenant
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Elliott Bay
#1
I know that there were few bayonet wounds in the ACW, but I am curious what the training with the bayonet was. I remember going through a stylized bayonet drill with the M-1 and the M-14, thrust, parry, vertical butt stroke, horizontal butt stroke. Was bayonet drill this formal in the 19th Century? Is there a primary source showing the manual of the bayonet?
 

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Frederick14Va

First Sergeant
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Oct 14, 2013
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Virginia
#2
Absolutely... Bayonet Drill was a common feature in the daily training and drill of soldiers.... Some observers thought it to be unusual... mentioning soldiers with fixed bayonets following each movement and command... that appeared to look like frogs leaping about... A host of different drill manuals that included it existed... that had slight differences thereof... Some troops were even taught using old French Army manuals.. including the commands given in French as they were written...

For the general overview and a popular one used by reenactors that is also illustrated in the respective movements is "McClellan's Bayonet Exercise"...
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ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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#3
Oooooh! Pointy things. Can we change the subject?

Anyone else want to run when a bunch of guys come at you with pointy things?
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
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#5
One event this summer a Sgt gathered up the privates and taught them bayonet drill. He was using McClellans and it was almost identical to the one I had learned but with I don't recall the name on what I learned other than it was French. Well trained men with the bayonet are a truly deadly weapon.
 

Dave Wilma

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#6
Those Scots are in a square. They just stuck the but of the Brown Bess in the dirt and impaled the horses. Not much of a manual of arms. Still, took guts. And whiskey.
 

kevikens

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New Jersey
#7
I know that there were few bayonet wounds in the ACW, but I am curious what the training with the bayonet was. I remember going through a stylized bayonet drill with the M-1 and the M-14, thrust, parry, vertical butt stroke, horizontal butt stroke. Was bayonet drill this formal in the 19th Century? Is there a primary source showing the manual of the bayonet?
Actually that notion of few being wounded by bayonets is based on the statements of doctors that they had treated few bayonet wounds in their wartime careers. That, indeed, may have been because there was not much use of the bayonet to inflict wounds but it may also have been because their lack of opportunity to treat men wounded by bayonets is because most men impaled on bayonets were dead on the field and never reached an aid station. If the enemy got close enough to soldiers to bayonet them there is good reason to conclude that the meeting was likely to have been a fatal one. I wonder if those preparing the dead for burial would have concluded that bayonets were something more than candle holders and provost guard stimulators.
 
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#8
Actually that notion of few being wounded by bayonets is based on the statements of doctors that they had treated few bayonet wounds in their wartime careers. That, indeed, may have been because there was not much use of the bayonet to inflict wounds but it may also have been because their lack of opportunity to treat men wounded by bayonets is because most men impaled on bayonets were dead on the field and never reached an aid station. If the enemy got close enough to soldiers to bayonet them there is good reason to conclude that the meeting was likely to have been a fatal one. I wonder if those preparing the dead for burial would have concluded that bayonets were something more than candle holders and provost guard stimulators.
This is an interesting debate I think. I've seen both sides stated before but I tend to think that there weren't that many bayonet wounds or deaths just because I've not seen mention of such in all the diary quotes and memoirs noted in the many books written about the experience of the common solider. Every now and then - such as at Spotsylvania, but not to the extent I'd expect if being bayonetted was a common experience. In fact, it almost seems to be noted as if to accentuate that it was not common. I don't claim to know - just musing and noting my impressions.

edit to add: I likewise question the often-quoted statement that artillery only accounted for perhaps ten percent of battle casualties. First, statistics just weren't really kept such that I think anybody could do more than a very cursory estimate. Second, one has to wonder how the generals wouldn't have known that artillery wasn't that effective and why they wouldn't have just chosen to have more infantry regiments and abandon all the overhead of maintaining batteries. Obviously they did seem to value those batteries so I think artillery likely more effective than estimated and not just a psychological weapon. Also, with regards to diaries and such those do seem to mention artillery a lot - much more so than bayonets. So, I do wonder (but don't claim to know).
 
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Dave Wilma

2nd Lieutenant
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#9
I have a commercial motive behind my question. I am writing a historical novel set in 1820 on the frontier with the U.S. Army. What would bayonet drill be like for them? In my story the commander finds his ammunition is rotten and they have very few good cartridges. But they have bayonets and tomahawks.
 
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#13
As reenactors, we did lots of drill, but I can only recall a few times that we did actual bayonet drills. We did drill on the bayonet charge as in Hardee.
 

Private Watkins

2nd Lieutenant
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Apr 12, 2014
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Oklahoma
#15
This guy found a good use for his bayonet... but I doubt that this was in the drill books.
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I seem to recall seeing a photo once of a couple of soldiers carrying loaves of bread on their bayonets, but can't remember where I saw it nor can I find it. Anyone else seen anything like that...?
 



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