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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Jun, 2008 9:21 am    Post subject: Pikemen picking up muskets?         Reply with quote

I came across this passage in Wikipedia's article on pike-and-shot tactics:

Wikipedia wrote:
In such an environment, pikemen grew to intensely dislike their own weapon, as they were forced to stand inactive as the combat went on around them as the opposing musketeers duelled, feeling that they were mere targets rather than soldiers, and that they were adding nothing to the battle raging around them. There are examples of pikemen throwing their weapons down and seizing muskets from fallen comrades, a sign that the pike was on the wane as a weapon.


Somehow it strikes a familiar chord, but I can't remember where else I've heard of it. Can anybody remind me which account of which battle it was that stated such a thing happening in the second half of the 17th century (or thereabouts)?
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 06 Jun, 2008 12:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd hate to be standing next to somebody flying on combat adrenalin and trying to learn matchlock musketry as a crash course. From pikeman to musketeer to suicide bomber....
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jun, 2008 11:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's exactly what I've been wondering about! I'm not entirely prepared to accept that pikemen could fight effectively as musketeers without any prior training, which implies that either these pikemen did get musket drills or that the idea of pikemen picking up muskets is false in the first place. I'm anxious to know which of the two possibilities is the correct one.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jun, 2008 11:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
That's exactly what I've been wondering about! I'm not entirely prepared to accept that pikemen could fight effectively as musketeers without any prior training, which implies that either these pikemen did get musket drills or that the idea of pikemen picking up muskets is false in the first place. I'm anxious to know which of the two possibilities is the correct one.


If a pikeman had years of experience seeing the musketeer next to him loading and firing his musket he might have a good general idea what to do to load and fire it at least from pre-prepared charges " apostles " or paper cartridges. Might only have a vague idea about how much powder to use from a flask for a safe charge.

In some cases civilian experience firing a musket or a personal wheelock ? Maybe talking to a friendly musketeer over a beer discussing how to load the musket ?

I wouldn't count on the whole idea being effective " en masse " for a large group of pikemen to just drop their pike and pick up a musket and using it for more than one shot assuming the musket they recovered was in ready to shoot condition i.e. get that one shot off.

All this might be more probable for mid 17th century pikemen rather than an early 16th century one where the pike was still very much needed against heavy armoured cavalry charges.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Fri 13 Jun, 2008 3:35 am    Post subject: Re: Pikemen picking up muskets?         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
I came across this passage in Wikipedia's article on pike-and-shot tactics:

Wikipedia wrote:
In such an environment, pikemen grew to intensely dislike their own weapon, as they were forced to stand inactive as the combat went on around them as the opposing musketeers duelled, feeling that they were mere targets rather than soldiers, and that they were adding nothing to the battle raging around them. There are examples of pikemen throwing their weapons down and seizing muskets from fallen comrades, a sign that the pike was on the wane as a weapon.


Somehow it strikes a familiar chord, but I can't remember where else I've heard of it. Can anybody remind me which account of which battle it was that stated such a thing happening in the second half of the 17th century (or thereabouts)?


Does the article cite any sources? Wikipedia articles are known for undocumented statements. I doubt that was a common occurence for the reasons already mentioned by others who have replied.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Jun, 2008 11:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The problem with such an approach is that a Pikeman was considered at least something of a "gentleman", while the musketeer was definitely lower on the social scale (usually pay-wise, too. At least the lowly arquebusier was lower paid than a pikeman. Sometimes, at least in the 16th Century, a fellow shooting the true mousquets of that era were compensated for the much greater efforts involved in carrying and firing such a beast.) I'm sure it was done somewhere, some time, but the idea of a pikeman discarding his own weapon, which being an arme blanche was "gentlemanly", and picking up a labourer's weapon would have been considered infamous in the day.

True enough that the French often had trouble raising sufficient pikemen to properly cover their clouds of arquebusiers, but that doesn't mean that a pikeman would prefer to BE an arquebusier. If it happened at all, it would probably be most likely during a siege, when a pike would be of little use until the final assault, but the armour would be of great benefit even in the trenches.

Cheers!

Gordon

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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jun, 2008 9:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
That's exactly what I've been wondering about! I'm not entirely prepared to accept that pikemen could fight effectively as musketeers without any prior training, which implies that either these pikemen did get musket drills or that the idea of pikemen picking up muskets is false in the first place. I'm anxious to know which of the two possibilities is the correct one.


If a pikeman had years of experience seeing the musketeer next to him loading and firing his musket he might have a good general idea what to do to load and fire it at least from pre-prepared charges " apostles " or paper cartridges. Might only have a vague idea about how much powder to use from a flask for a safe charge.

In some cases civilian experience firing a musket or a personal wheelock ? Maybe talking to a friendly musketeer over a beer discussing how to load the musket ?

I wouldn't count on the whole idea being effective " en masse " for a large group of pikemen to just drop their pike and pick up a musket and using it for more than one shot assuming the musket they recovered was in ready to shoot condition i.e. get that one shot off.

All this might be more probable for mid 17th century pikemen rather than an early 16th century one where the pike was still very much needed against heavy armoured cavalry charges.


I agree Jean. I think there are many ways for a pikeman to learn the basics without having actually shot one. Firstly, I think that he'd be prepared simply from listening and watching to deal with the noise and smell from the muskets, and in his infinaate boredom he may have even watched it done - I'd be suprised if a pikeman had NOT seen the action repeated countless times.

Also, on a personal note, I've never once fired a black powder musket before but I've talked to people who have and I have a pretty good idea of how it works as well as how to fire it. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I could use one myself in dire need.
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Ted Wilson





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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jun, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://web.mac.com/tedwilson/TudorFayre2007/Guns_n_Pikes.html

Some fun pics of a local group.

Ted W.
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