Loading W/ A Bayonet

MikeyB

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Quick question - does a bayonet slowdown in any meaningful way reloading? Does the extra weight or extra length make it a nuisance? Does it impact marksmanship or having to adjust how you aim?

Would you only go into battle with bayonets if you were 100% sure you were going to be in hand to hand because of any of the above impacts on firing?

Mike
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Loading.
When we are talking just going true the motions as drill I actually prefer having it on. When drawing the ramrod you need to draw it a specific length. Not to much, not too little, if you want to do things as effective as possible. This is easier since you can use the tip of the bayonet as a guide.

When I served as our 1st sergeant I always ordered they bayonets fixed before going true the "load in nine times."
Since we rarely have them fixed, it force people to be a lot more focused on what they are doing. So I used as a teaching tool.
(the same when doing drill at home, as I do from time to time. It do help make sure Iam focus on what Iam doing)


The drill books wanted both ranks to fight standing in close order. But during the war the men started to kneel in both ranks and build breastwork. Then I think they bayonet do become a issue and a risk when in close order. (unlike in skirmish order)
But It is just my thinking...don't have a source on it or tried it.

Weight.
Over time it is scientifically more demanding to carry and use the musket. It is extra weight at the tip, so you will use more energy moving it around.
But Iam just a 38 year old weak academic... Not a young man who grew up on a farm. So maybe not an issue for the men back then.

Impact.
Anything you put on a gun effect the impact. But with the typical lack of marksmanship skills I really don't think it mattered.

The last time I did some live firing, I did do it with fixed bayonet. I think it Made the recoil more pleasant and easier to keep the barrel pointed at the target. But not sure what influence it had on my impact. (our focus was people trying live firing, not if they hit anything)


If you look in the manual of arms for muskets as found in Scotts manual for line/heavy infantry it is written with the idea that the bayonet is fixed.
The rifle manual for light infantry do not have it fixed as a standard.
 
Last edited:

poorjack

Corporal
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Location
NC
Weight.
Over time it is scientifically more demanding to carry and use the musket. It is extra weight at the tip, so you will use more energy moving it around.
But Iam just a 38 year old weak academic... Not a young man who grew up on a farm. So maybe not an issue for the men back then.

Impact.
Anything you put on a gun effect the impact. But with the typical lack of marksmanship skills I really don't think it mattered.

The last time I did some live firing, I did do it with fixed bayonet. I think it Made the recoil more pleasant and easier to keep the barrel pointed at the target. But not sure what influence it had on my impact. (our focus was people trying live firing, not if they hit anything)

Back when I was reenacting I found that the fixed bayonet was a bit of a nuisance when loading. If you're doing it in ranks v skirmishing, it's really going to be an issue.

As for shooting, it does dampen recoil due to A) additional mass to the gun and B) it changes the balance. It also screws with accuracy and how you hold the gun because of balance.
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
For what a musket that mounts a bayonet is designed to do, the bayonet doesn't appreciably change loading or accuracy. We sens the difference because we're not trained with it.
 

poorjack

Corporal
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Location
NC
I beg to differ on the accuracy point. Many reenactors never shoot their guns for accuracy and never explore just how accurate a rifle musket can be if they shoot live at all.
 

Yankeedave

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Location
Colorado
It got/gets in the way. As far as loading under fire the men spoke of using rocks to hammer the round down. Or turning the weapon upside down and ramming it with the rammer on a the tip of the brogan or hard object on ground. The bayonet would get in the way.
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
I beg to differ on the accuracy point. Many reenactors never shoot their guns for accuracy and never explore just how accurate a rifle musket can be if they shoot live at all.
That's why I qualified it with "designed to do." A line of men doesn't need to be that accurate when firing at a target at least 6' tall and 100 yards wide. The chance that somebody is going to hit something is good enough. They didn't realize they were in the midst of a transition in military armament and tactics.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Quick question - does a bayonet slowdown in any meaningful way reloading?
Back when I was reenacting I found that the fixed bayonet was a bit of a nuisance when loading.
(..)
it changes the balance. It also screws with accuracy and how you hold the gun because of balance.
I agree that It change the balance as you mention. I think that if you always have it fixed then you simply get use to that balance.
So the issue is the change.

I personally don't have any issue with it. When standing in ranks with "americans"

But I find it a good deal worse with when using the danish "prime" position, compared to the american one where you got the stock og the musket under the armpit. Much better control in the american drill.

Exactly how if effect the balance depend on the model of gun and bayonet.

---------------

I had planned to do some drill in the garden so I used my phone to record a bit of it.

Note
  1. it is danish, not US gear Iam using. (The cartridges boxes on the front got both cartridge and caps in it)
    But a britishP/1853 Enfield.
  2. Iam just dry drilling, so no cartridge or powder.
  3. The prime position and how I fix the bayonet is different to what is found in the american manual of arms for rifles. (and so is the "shoulder arms")
  4. And Iam much out of training since I haven't used a musket for more than a year...
    that is what happens when you start playing a "Commander sergeant" that carry a saber...
    And this was very much the reason why I wanted to do drill... and it help pass the time in the Corona lockdown.

But it do show that the bayonet is not really an issue.

 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
I beg to differ on the accuracy point. Many reenactors never shoot their guns for accuracy and never explore just how accurate a rifle musket can be if they shoot live at all.
The exact same can be said about most civil war soldiers... who never fired their guns outside of combat.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
One of the funniest things I ever saw happened during a musket firing demo. I was the gunner on an artillery piece on the flank & slightly Ahead of the triple ranked infantry. What possessed them to fix bayonets escapes me.
One of the men in both the center of the line & center rank managed to pierce his sleeve as he was loading. In the process of attempting to free his sleeve, he knocked the hat off the man in front with the bayonet & thumped the man behind him with the but of his musket. In a process that would have gratified Sir Isaac Newton, for every action there was a an opposite & equal reaction that spread toward the flanks. Fortunately (or not depending on your sense of humor) no blood was shed. The appalled anxious looks on everyone’s faces as they shrank away from the bayonet tips sent us red legs into a wheel clinging fit of laughter. I have absolutely no idea of what the visitors made of it.
 

poorjack

Corporal
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Location
NC
The exact same can be said about most civil war soldiers... who never fired their guns outside of combat.

As a former reenactor, I still find it amusing to hear the misinformation that comes from many reenactors and the general public doesn't know the difference. Yes, many soldiers did not have any firearms training, especially those from the "urban" areas. Those from a rural setting were often well acquainted with firearms, although probably not a military type. I also wonder how much shooting knowledge was lost due to death from disease as those from the rural areas with no natural immunity to many of the common city diseases died. Gallery shooting was a common pastime prior to the War as well. Poor marksmanship in the War and later conflicts was recognized and training evolved to try to remedy that. Rote drill can help when under stress, but generally the average human has an aversion to shooting another person. As one of our N-SSA members observed once when he took a group of reenactors live firing, the reenactors couldn't hit the target but were fascinated by the damage done to trees, the target frames, etc and one even remarked he had no idea this was a "real gun". Well, 500gr of lead loping along at 1k+ fps is gonna leave a mark duct tape and bandaides can't fix.

Now let's add the complication of loading a rifle musket with bayonet with some other folks across the way doing the same with intent on shooting you back and I can see how only the most cool types could function. Remember that the "professionals" from Europe observing derided both sides as little more than armed mobs.

The reenacting group I was in often did musket drills. To make them more palatable we started to compete to see who could load and come to the ready by the manual fastest. After a while, it really does get ingrained as muscle memory.
 

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