The development of bayonets and Civil War.

major bill

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#1
Armies are always searching for better weapons to use. To some casual observers it would seem like the bayonet should have little room for improvement. This may not be true because after the Civil War the US Army was trying to improve the Army bayonet. I am not sure what shortcomings the Army found it Civil War bayonets. What leasons did the Army learn in the Civil War about their bayonets that made them search for new bayonet designs?
 

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Kurt G

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#3
The US model 1873 trowel bayonet looks more like a gardening tool . Although it was apparently an effective entrenching tool , it was too wide to be a good bayonet .
 

major bill

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#4
Is it possible that so many Civil War solders were forced to use their bayonets to prepare defensive positions, that the Army believed that a trowl shaped bayonet that soldiers could use it to dig in was worth adopting, bmm even if it made less effective bayonet for a weapon?

I have not researched this enough to have read the correspondence between Army officials on the subjet of th Model 1873 bayonet. Still this bayonet looks like a compromise that leaned in favor of a digging tool bayonet over a fighting bayonet.
 
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#5
Very, very few people were found to be wounded by bayonets. Even in the U.S. Civil War, with the muzzle loading rifle musket being the primary infantry arm, and plagued with all sorts of things that could cause it to cease working. Bayonets really only went through the following developments, in my view:
1. The plug bayonet was invented. Henceforth, there was no need to carry a spiked musket rest, or have the support of pikes.
2. The socket bayonet was invented. Henceforth, infantry could use the musket as a club or a spear, and also ward off cavalry charges provided they could maintain discipline and order while under attack from mounted men.
3. Sabre bayonets were developed so soldiers with two-banded muskets or musketoons could have enough "reach" vis-a-vis three-band muskets with socket bayonets.
4. There was a very, very belated recognition that the bayonet's days were over what with cartridge loading and magazine-fed repeaters. Other than intimidating poorly trained troops or striking workers or civilians in one or another context, the bayonet began to shrink. Not all at once of course... By the time of the M1 Garand M5 bayonet or the M7 for the M16, the bayonet has become a field knife for the most part. The M9 is truly a field knife.

The ramrod and the bayonet could be used as tools for cooking messes.
The bayonet could be used to dig, particularly in rocky ground.
The bayonet could be used as a tent stake or a field expedient candle stick holder.

There were attempts to make it a tool, hence the machete-like creations, or the trowel bayonet... Or to turn it into an unobtrusive piece of gear that was part of something already attached to a rifle like the ramrod types of the late Trapdoor Springfields and M1903 "Roosevelt Mauser" that T. Roosevelt decidedly did not approve of, so back it went to the foot-and-a-half long knife bayonet through WWI and WWII...
 
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#7
Ghastly. The standard socket bayonet of the age of musketry left terrible wounds. Given the medical technology of the era, these invariably proved fatal, or never healed properly. They would continue to suppurate and exude pus and fluid. By the time of the U.S. Civil War, however, it would seem that while hand-to-hand combat occurred, it was fought with all manner of weapons and not just bayonets. After a fire fight, the fixing of bayonets and charging would trigger, in the words of historian Stuart Reid, "a fight or flight response." So while it was primarily a psychological weapon, and a means of inducing soldiers to close with the enemy, it appears to have been comparatively little used.

There is ample information in this previous thread here on this forum:

Bayonet wounds in the Civil War
 



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