Good Lord! I jump ship for a few days, and when I get back on board, look at what I find. I’m pleased to have stirred up such a fiery debate!
Let’s get one thing clear first – these ‘muskets’ are a ‘reenactorism’ through and through: they were designed and built by a re-enactor, at the request of other re-enactors, for the purpose of re-enacting. Their very reason for being is for re-enactors to use in hand to hand combat (in front of MOPs) instead of a live-firing equivalent, and they are robust enough, cheap enough, and realistic enough at 20 paces, for them to be used without worry! If I have created a re-enactorism, then it was purely intentional. After all, in the real heat of battle, an infantryman of the period would care more for saving his own neck than getting a few dings in his pretty musket!
You could use it for drill, you could use it in bayonet practice, if you wanted. But for drill, why not use your real musket (just don’t drop it on concrete!). For practicing your bayonet skills, use a broomshank with a tennis ball on the end (hateful things – I ditched mine after one session and made myself a proper sprung bayonet fencing rifle – much better ‘feel’ to it).
But this ‘musket’ was specifically created for ‘fighting’ (hence the title of the thread).
The original context was maritime combat, up close and confined, where picking up a weapon that was lying around was not an issue. Of course, on an open field, you can’t carry two muskets into the fray. And you guys from what you are saying, don’t appear to have the numbers to have ‘bayonet men’ hidden amongst your ranks specifically for this aspect of public show, to reveal their skills at a given point in the ‘battle’ - which is what CT appears to be advocating.
As for the separate issue of the actual way in which infantry was trained how to use their bayonets, my view is coloured somewhat by my experience of 19thC bayonet fencing as a martial art. If one were to take the exploits of John Churchill, Frederick the Great, Aleksandr Suvorov (and the anecdotal accounts of actions involving the men they led) to heart, then you could believe that emphasis was given in the 18thC to training in bayonet fighting techniques. But other than the ubiquitous drill (and much of that was French), off the top of my head there leaves only a brief mention in Girard. From that, is it safe to assume that for over 100 years, a weapons system was issued to practically every infantryman, and no formal training was given in its use until Anthony Gordon or Alex Muller stepped in to ‘fill the void’? That hardly seems credible. And were lessons from the past in hand-to-hand fighting (Walhausen, for instance) simply discarded and forgotten?
Are we to assume that the professional soldier of the 18thC did not train at all for hand-to-hand combat? That’s not really a safe assumption to make. How many of you out there, after your set-piece battle, return to camp, strip to shirtsleeves and pick up a stick, a quarterstaff or raise your fists, and wager your prowess for a few shillings? Not many? Well, that’s certainly one ‘period’ way in which you would have honed your skills.
And so we’ve come full circle, as what I’ve described above is nowadays thought of as Western Martial Arts, hence my original assertion that WMA has a part to play in re-enactment. For one thing, like all forms of training and drill, it teaches a way of reacting and moving (some call it a ‘muscle memory’) which is counter intuitive to the ‘fight and flight’ panic one may encounter in a confrontative, confusing and unfamiliar situation, that is designed to help you survive (in a real battle) or win (in a competition) - the very scenario you describe, CT.
This may not have been vocalised as such in period, but the value of formalised drill in focusing the attention of the ordinary soldier in the heat of battle certainly was, and I believe it stands to reason that informal training amongst the troops themselves was also similarly valued.
Mickey Mouse is dead!
l'Enfer, c'est les autres...
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