Bayonet Fighting [in re-enactment]

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Bayonet Fighting [in re-enactment]

Postby Fox » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:22 am

On one of my GWC threads I started asking questions about bayonet fighting...
Elsewhere, Fox wrote:Intuatively it seems to me that [in re-enactment] it would be stupid to engage in hand to hand combat using a musket.

Firstly, how can you be absolutely certain that the weapon is "safe" before you start waving it around at someone at close range, and especially before you stick a knife in the end of the barrel.
Second, it's a relatively expensive piece of kit to be sticking on front of a sword or axe or similar that might cause some real damage.
Third, it can't be terribly safe to be firing a weapon that has been aggresively bashed about.

Since you lot do this sort of thing all the time, are my insticts correct?


However the objections sound slightly different:
steve stanley wrote:Bayonet fighting has been done in Lace Wars & NFOE...Heavily rehearsed.'cos there's no such thing as a blunt bayonet...............
Steve


and

Phil the Grips wrote:I can't see any way to do freeplay reenactment bayonet combat unless wearing cuirassier harness and totenkopf/savoyard helm


So what am I missing? Why are bayonets more dangerous than any other thrusting weapon?

Is it because no one makes a sufficiently safe bayonet?



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Postby Nigel » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:31 am

Starter for 10

No bayonets

No training

Nobody with an idea of what to do with them

Perception of danger


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Postby Phil the Grips » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:58 am

My comment was for "fencing"- ie full body/weapon use in a WMA style context as was done at gymkhana and C19th military displays- the only available armour for the period would be a very out of date suit of plate.

Most reenactment post C15th doesnt do freeplay combat to actually hit each other very much (in fact many of them think mud-eaters are brave/mad for doing so) so the set up and training isn't there. C17th sword "training" is to make sure you wont be a dick when carrying one rather than competent at actually hitting another person.

Also folk tend to carry sharps so that makes fighting with them not an option- I carry sharps when in post C15th in the main, except if th epiece is a specific traininmg foil which is meant to be blunt/unpointy/springy in the blade.

However, if you got some experienced freeplay combatants and gave them bayonets to use as spears then you could do something- it wouldn't look much like bayonet fighting but it would be interesting for a while.

It's just finding blunt bayonets, enough people with the relevant paperwork and experience to handle muskets and enough people prepared to risk their piece getting banged up. Also maybe sneaking some modern body armour under authenti- togs fro safety- fencing breastplate, a plastron or the like.


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Postby Dave B » Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:31 am

It needs a bit of thought. obviously if there is an uncleared flintlock weapon then the worst thing you could do is stuff a plug bayonet up it, point it at someone and jar it.

Also long muskets etc get a lot of muzzle pressure even blank firing. modern good steels mean that muzzle spliting is unheard of, but the forces involved in putting a bayonet on or in the end and whacking it might cause a dangerous weakness.

personaly I wouldn't fancy it unless it was with 'club muskets' that couldn't be fired or done under the controlled conditions of a coreographed set peice


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Postby Mark P. » Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:39 am

I suppose you could respond by asking what is it you want to do with bayonets?

free for all or scripted?

bayonets sharp (socket) or bluntish (plug)?

opposing weapons bayonet v bayonet, bayonet v sword or bayonet v shield?

skill at arms or melee?

The brown bess's can be a bit fragile but the YHA/DHA matchlocks are pretty robust.


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Postby steve stanley » Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:22 pm

One of the things I like about 18thcent(or my kit,anyway)..Is that everything is "real"...nothing blunted,no smoothbores pretending to be rifled....unless you start putting silly knobs on socket bayonets,you cannot have a safe one.....I would rather have the "real thing" & stand off & shoot,than compromise the authenticity so I could do hand-to-hand....That's just my viewpoint,not everyone's..But we're a Broad Church in the Age of Enlightenment! :D
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Postby Foxe » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:19 am

I suspect that the greatest obstacle (in the long term) to bayonet fighting is not safety but making it look good.

Since the bayonet was primarily a thrusting weapon it would require a goodly amount of thought to come up with a "safe" fighting method, followed by a goodly amount of training to put it into practice. The unarmoured 18Cents will then require a goodly amount of persuasion that such a thrusting weapon really is safe. Problems, but nothing that can't be overcome in time.

What I doubt can be overcome is the relatively precious nature of the muskets behind the bayonets. For most people their musket will be the most expensive single piece of kit they have and they'll be naturally reluctant to risk damaging it. Result: hulking great men mincing across the battlefield gently poking each other then whipping their gun out of harms way before it gets clanked. It'll look like a Monty Python sketch.


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Postby steve stanley » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:52 pm

Foxe wrote: Result: hulking great men mincing across the battlefield gently poking each other then whipping

I think I feel a nightmare coming on................. :?
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Postby Fox » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:21 pm

steve stanley wrote:I would rather have the "real thing" & stand off & shoot,than compromise the authenticity so I could do hand-to-hand...


But you don't feel that not being able to do hand-to-hand compromises the authenticity?



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Postby Mark P. » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:21 pm

steve stanley wrote:
Foxe wrote: Result: hulking great men mincing across the battlefield gently poking each other then whipping

I think I feel a nightmare coming on................. :?
Steve


Why would you want to re enact like this anyway :?:
I don't think battles where decided by massed bayonet fencing attacks.


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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:35 pm

Fox wrote:
steve stanley wrote:I would rather have the "real thing" & stand off & shoot,than compromise the authenticity so I could do hand-to-hand...


But you don't feel that not being able to do hand-to-hand compromises the authenticity?

Different authenticity!!!!...one is my kit,t'other is the show for the public.....which is stage fighting & thus not authentic anyway.....Realised this sounds as 'tho I disapprove of hand-to-hand..I don't & have done it in various periods including this one....but this is my "orfentik" period,so I'm inclined to compromise less...but that's just me..........
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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:36 pm

Mark P. wrote:
steve stanley wrote:
Foxe wrote: Result: hulking great men mincing across the battlefield gently poking each other then whipping

I think I feel a nightmare coming on................. :?
Steve


Why would you want to re enact like this anyway :?:
I don't think battles where decided by massed bayonet fencing attacks.

Write out 100 times "I must quote the correct post".........


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Postby Fox » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:41 pm

Mark P. wrote:Why would you want to re enact this :?:


Actually that's a fair question, and I'm not at all sure I want to do anything in particular,

My thought process sort of went like this:

Those bayonets everyone is recommending are very sharp....

Actually probably not sensible to do bayonet fighting anyway [see my thoughts in post 1]

[I did then have an aside thought about ensuring sharp looking bayonet is always well attached into scabard when fighting, no point falling on your own sharp, dislodged knife.]

I'll just check that I'm not going to want a blunt bayonet....


What happened next was I got a different answer from the one I was expecting, although subsequently people have reiterated my original thoughts

I'm just trying to learn more about the period I might spend quite a small amount of my re-enactment life in, and the ettiquette thereof.

Mark P. wrote:I don't think battle where decided by massed bayonet fencing attacks.


I don't think GAoP is likley to go in the direction of massed anything, is it?

I was more thinking of how little skirmishes on ships and docks or similar might go, which seems to be the possibilities available.

I'm guessing the answer is drop musket, draw sword. I was just wondering about alternatives.

Basically because for most of my life I'm a bill-captain [for want of a historically accurate expression for what I do], and bayonet fighting, in and of itself, seems no more dangerous than lots of other re-enactment fighting, such as iron age fighting with short spears. We often train without special padding and long, often heavy, pointy sticks, so it seems, with the right practice, very do-able.

I'm much more understanding of what seems to me a better reason; which is: hitting people with expensive, exploding sticks is just stupid, regardless of what you attach to them.



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Postby Fox » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:43 pm

steve stanley wrote:
Fox wrote:
steve stanley wrote:I would rather have the "real thing" & stand off & shoot,than compromise the authenticity so I could do hand-to-hand...


But you don't feel that not being able to do hand-to-hand compromises the authenticity?

Different authenticity!!!!...one is my kit,t'other is the show for the public.....which is stage fighting & thus not authentic anyway.....Realised this sounds as 'tho I disapprove of hand-to-hand..I don't & have done it in various periods including this one....but this is my "orfentik" period,so I'm inclined to compromise less...but that's just me..........
Steve


If it was sensible and practical, and I think people are agreeing with my instinct and saying it isn't, but if it were, you could have a dress and a fighting bayonet and solve both problems.



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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:54 pm

I think you have it!.....As I said,we've done it,but it has to be SO rehearsed it's not a fight,but a show......
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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:56 pm

BTW ......Controlled kicking in the goolies is ALWAYS acceptable :D :D
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Postby Fox » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:00 pm

steve stanley wrote:but it has to be SO rehearsed it's not a fight,but a show......


That's bit I don't get, but it's irrelevant that I don't get it, so we can move on. :)



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Postby Mark P. » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:19 pm

steve stanley wrote:I think you have it!.....As I said,we've done it,but it has to be SO rehearsed it's not a fight,but a show......
Steve


To be honest I think a well rehersed fight sequence will be more authentic to the audience compared to the 'tinky tinky' tentative freestyle parrying you often get in unrehearsed fights.

I also think we have to remember that generally when we are fighting we are putting on a show.


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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:29 pm

I agree!.....I was contrasting to the more free-style normal in other periods.This has got a bit convoluted,but my basic point was that we can't do the mass "competitive" stuff others do & personally,I wouldn't want to if it meant bayonets with knobs on!
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Postby Fox » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:43 pm

steve stanley wrote:but my basic point was that we can't do the mass "competitive" stuff others do & personally,I wouldn't want to if it meant bayonets with knobs on!


Point of order: Re-enactment polearms for the medieval period generally do not have knobs on.



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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:47 pm

Sorry....was thinking of Dark Age spears I've seen..My ECW unit's pikes don't have knobs either...But some units still find silver-painted wood acceptable along with rubber polearms!
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Postby Fox » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:59 pm

I'll resist the urge to say it's because they're a bunch of girls.... :wink: :D

I think it's measure of what someone, and the people they are facing, are trained for.

There is an expectation in the sort of re-enactment I'm used to that could be translated to fighting at bayonet point, and in a way that was both safe and robust, and possibly partially representative if not 100% accurate.

I think other periods do things differently, for a number of reasons, of which complexity and scale is often one, and that make the idea seem less appropriate.

In this case I think the nature of musket makes it unacceptable, although I could see it being possible using a "fake" musket, possibly as part of a set piece. But in saying this I'm getting a very log way ahead of where I am now.



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Postby Borsch Monster » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:28 pm

steve stanley wrote:But some units still find silver-painted wood acceptable along with rubber polearms!
Steve


That's because they were until recently compulsory. And those units fielding them were breaking the rules, mind you it wasn't them that was going to hit with them, so that's ok. I'm still not convinced that steel headed pikes belong on the battlefield. The weapon is too unweildy to be used safely.

Incidentally some of the steel heads I've seen are so broad bladed & rounded it's looks like someone has attached a spoon to the end, and look far worse than the better rubber ones, which are pretty convincing to a couple of feet away.
Last edited by Borsch Monster on Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:29 pm

Fox wrote:I think other periods do things differently, for a number of reasons, of which complexity and scale is often one,

And there You have it in one!Different periods not only have different Historical patterns to follow,but the expectations of the membership & traditions of that's the way it's done........
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Postby Borsch Monster » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:31 pm

On the bayonet front, I think bayonets are more difficult to free play with because a gun is heavy.



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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:33 pm

Borsch Monster wrote:
steve stanley wrote:But some units still find silver-painted wood acceptable along with rubber polearms!
Steve


That's because they were until recently compulsory. And those units fielding them were breaking the rules, mind you it wasn't them that was going to hit with them, so that's ok. I'm still not convinced that steel headed pikes belong on the battlefield. The weapon is too unweildy to be used safely.

I think the problems are more due to fighting methods than to the weapons.....People coming in at a run with metal-headed pikes 'cos they still wanted to "win"...
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Postby Borsch Monster » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:35 pm

steve stanley wrote:
Borsch Monster wrote:
steve stanley wrote:But some units still find silver-painted wood acceptable along with rubber polearms!
Steve


That's because they were until recently compulsory. And those units fielding them were breaking the rules, mind you it wasn't them that was going to hit with them, so that's ok. I'm still not convinced that steel headed pikes belong on the battlefield. The weapon is too unweildy to be used safely.

I think the problems are more due to fighting methods than to the weapons.....People coming in at a run with metal-headed pikes 'cos they still wanted to "win"...
Steve


Nah, I've seen people hit in the face while they were standing still & "fencing".



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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:43 pm

More training....less competitiveness.....Problem is that Pike fighting is still a compromise,and(personally) I find the attempted "transition" moves from point to push to be dangerous....I'd sooner keep the point low as fencing in the air looks ridiculous....For it to look "right" we'd have to accept being more theatrical.....(one reason why I'm moving to musket...)
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Postby Borsch Monster » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:04 pm

steve stanley wrote:More training....less competitiveness.....Problem is that Pike fighting is still a compromise,and(personally) I find the attempted "transition" moves from point to push to be dangerous....I'd sooner keep the point low as fencing in the air looks ridiculous....For it to look "right" we'd have to accept being more theatrical.....(one reason why I'm moving to musket...)
Steve


More training (even if there was time) won't correct an inherantly unsafe practice.

fighting with the pikes low creates serious leg injuries when someone falls & they can't get their feet out of the tangle of pikes. Yes I've seen it happen, the only pike injury our unit has had that required surgery.

"Theatrical" doesn't look right, it usually looks pants as half the pikemen are chatting and laughing. If you do act as if you're in a fight everyone tells you to calm down. :roll:

I'm too old for that sh** now & already have move to the artillery :lol:



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Postby Eggles » Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:18 am

BM - I cannot speak to your incident with low pike as I have no knowledge of the details of how your man fell. I would however offer a possible contrast between Bill fighting as practised by the mudeaters and Pike in C17th.

The mudeaters do not seem (from the times I have seen them) to have rear ranks pushing them forwards no matter what is happening at the front (or even in some cases officers/NCOs encouraging this or taking part.) The lack of training and change in the right 'approach' and 'mindset' is as great part of the risk as weapon handling.

Back on topic - A reason why its damn hard to 'do' bayonet fighting is that to look right in peoples eyes you really have to thrust it in (people have seen too many war films) Even a blunt is potentially bad news in that scenario.




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