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Aidan Hargitt





Joined: 01 Sep 2007

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu 20 Aug, 2015 3:34 am    Post subject: Reversed arquebus or musket in melee/shock action...?         Reply with quote

Hello

My first topic here - long-time lurker though Happy My main interest is the pike and shot era.

Does anyone here have any information/evidence on the use of muskets or arquebuses as clubs in battle, and how that developed? By that I mean intentionally, in deliberate shock action, as opposed to fighting with whatever came to hand if cornered.

I guess that in the early days there were too few shot relative to pike for them to need to get in involved in shock action - they could just leave it to the pikemen to fight it out...? But by the English Civil War and Thirty Years War, when shot was 2/3 or more of the infantry, musketeers charging alongside the pike and using their guns as clubs seems standard procedure.

Did the musketeers train for this kind of fighting like later soldiers would do bayonet practice? How would it have worked in the early 17th century when most shot used rests - would they just drop the rest? When did this type of fighting develop - gradually as the proportion of pike to shot changed...? Would infantry shot use their swords in an attack, and if so what did they do with their guns as, so far as I can tell, only mounted shot had slings or holsters...?

Any info gratefully received... Happy
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Vasilly T





Joined: 02 Dec 2014

Posts: 66

PostPosted: Thu 20 Aug, 2015 6:40 am    Post subject: Re: Reversed arquebus or musket in melee/shock action...?         Reply with quote

Afaik they usually had some kind of melee weapon as a side arm, usually a sword which they used when it came to melee. A 5+ kg musket doesn't really make a great melee weapon Big Grin

But there are accounts of muskets used as clubs indeed. Though you'd have to wait for someone more qualified to provide some sources on that, sorry.
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M. Szewczyk





Joined: 10 Apr 2014

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu 20 Aug, 2015 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding what they did with their fire weapons when charging swords in hand one has to ask oneself what their predecessors, medieval crossbowmen, did in the same situation with their crossbows. Polish sources show that crossbows were regularly damaged, so I could guess they could be just dropped on the ground - one of the possible reason of quite fast replacement of crossbows with handgonnes and arquebuses in late 15th/early 16th century is said to be the resilience of the later to damage.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,315

PostPosted: Thu 20 Aug, 2015 8:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Club Muskets" was part of some regular drills into the mid-18th century. If some grunt from the other side is coming at me with a cheap sword that he only uses to cut kindling, I'll cheerfully go after him with my musket butt! "Parry THIS, bud!"

It's been too long since I've done 17th century reenacting! Pretty sure there was a command for "club muskets", but I couldn't tell you if that was typical, or if you were supposed to use the musket before the sword, or vice versa, or what.

Matthew
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 496

PostPosted: Thu 20 Aug, 2015 9:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
"Club Muskets" was part of some regular drills into the mid-18th century. If some grunt from the other side is coming at me with a cheap sword that he only uses to cut kindling, I'll cheerfully go after him with my musket butt! "Parry THIS, bud!"

It's been too long since I've done 17th century reenacting! Pretty sure there was a command for "club muskets", but I couldn't tell you if that was typical, or if you were supposed to use the musket before the sword, or vice versa, or what.

Matthew

Source? Because it seems extremely impractical stupid to use you heavy, unwieldly musket as a melee weapon when you can just attach a socket bayonet or plug the muzzle with dagger and use your musket like a spear. I would image a musket clubber going up against a swordsmen in melee would get stabbed to death becuase of how slow, awkward and heavy a musket is compared to fast , light, sword. If I would images a musket would make a good parrying stick though, lots of steel and wood to block blows with.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,315

PostPosted: Thu 20 Aug, 2015 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:
"Club Muskets" was part of some regular drills into the mid-18th century. If some grunt from the other side is coming at me with a cheap sword that he only uses to cut kindling, I'll cheerfully go after him with my musket butt! "Parry THIS, bud!"

It's been too long since I've done 17th century reenacting! Pretty sure there was a command for "club muskets", but I couldn't tell you if that was typical, or if you were supposed to use the musket before the sword, or vice versa, or what.

Matthew

Source? Because it seems extremely impractical stupid to use you heavy, unwieldly musket as a melee weapon when you can just attach a socket bayonet or plug the muzzle with dagger and use your musket like a spear. I would image a musket clubber going up against a swordsmen in melee would get stabbed to death becuase of how slow, awkward and heavy a musket is compared to fast , light, sword. If I would images a musket would make a good parrying stick though, lots of steel and wood to block blows with.


You'd have to look up some drill manuals, but the orders are in there. Sorry, I don't recall which 17th century drills might be the ones (I don't remember ANY of the names of those!), but I know there were American militia units up to the Revolution using older British drills. Bland's drill of 1757 has a command for "Club your firelock":

http://www.kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=...ntry_Drill

Page 9 of the Norfolk Discipline from 1759 has it, too. (Took some digging and a big pdf download to find that!)

Obviously the idea of using the musket as a club predates the invention of the bayonet! Militia drills presumably tended to hang onto it longer since they didn't always have bayonets. Not to mention that plug bayonets were never great--you can't fix it ahead of time if you want to fire, which means you get to stuff it into a hot muzzle just seconds before going into hand-to-hand combat. And it might fall out.

Also remember that soldiers were not "swordsmen". They probably got taught a few basic moves, but I honestly don't know how much time might have been devoted to swordsmanship. So *my* guess is that most soldiers swung their swords like axes or baseball bats, with more enthusiasm than actual skill. Even used as a big club, the musket is longer and heavier than any sword! If you want to bet on getting your sword into the guy a split-second before he caves in your skull, go for it! I'm betting that a lot of guys with swords would find that kind of intimidating. Hesitate, and you are paste.

A sure win? Heck, no! And I'm not suggesting that many people went into combat with clubbed muskets after the socket bayonet was in general use. But war is a mess, and lots of weird things happen.

Matthew
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Sep, 2015 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Before the socket bayonet became popular in the late 17th/early 18th century (and in some cases even after that), there was no standard official doctrine on whether the Shot was supposed to draw swords or to reverse their pieces and use them as clubs in hand-to-hand combat. We certainly have many accounts of both; Montluc has perhaps the most famous instances of early 16th-century French arquebusiers abandoning their firearms to draw their swords and charge (or countercharge) enemies who had come too close, while English Civil War memoirs are rife with incidents where musketeers and caliver-men wrought havoc with the butts of their weapons (especially in smaller skirmishes rather than large battles). Later on, the 1685 English drill book described a method of firing for three ranks which was supposed to be immediately followed up by clubbing the weapons and charging pell-mell towards the enemy.

Interestingly enough, we see a gradual change in the design of musket stocks that roughly parallelled the introduction and then the popularisation of the bayonet. The throats of 16th- and early 17th-century muskets' and calivers' stocks tended to be quite substantial, and some were even reinforced with metal bands; it is not beyond reason to surmise that the throat was made so substantial not only for reasons that had to do with the weapon's fire (such as better balance or more mass to compensate for the recoil) but also to make the stock sturdy enough to survive use as a club. Later on, especially after the turn of the 18th century, firelock throats became much more slender and thus more prone to breaking or cracking if the butt was used in the manner of a club. Even then, the butt still apparently made sufficiently effective clubs that certain native American groups copied their shape for clubs that weren't supposed to be used for any kind of fire action at all! (Do a Google image search of "gunstock clubs" for examples.)

Another strange tidbit is that, in some European armies, the gesture of "club firelocks" seemed to have become a signal of surrender by the last few decades of the 18th century, as shown by the number of accounts where men tried to reverse their weapons to offer surrender to the opposing side during the American Revolution. However, this meaning of the gesture doesn't seem to have been universally understood or accepted, since in many of these incidents the enemy either ignored the move or (apparently) misinterpreted it as an attack. This article has more information on the subject: http://www.continentalline.org/articles/artic...cle=980401


(Note the mention of Montluc above -- the first mention of him ordering his arquebusiers to draw swords and charge happened in the 1540s, so in the "early days" the Shot was already extensively involved in shock action even when they were still outnumbered by the pike. One possible reason was that the pike had heavier armour and thus took more time to cross significant distances, so in some cases Montluc seems to have believed that it was better to throw the arquebusiers he already had into hand-to-hand combat than to wait for the pikes that might take some time to arrive. Of course, on the other hand, his account makes it clear that small parties on scouting expeditions or outpost duties often had more Shot than Pike, and that the number and proportion of Shot was often higher than what the official regulations stipulated even in major battles and campaigns.)
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 10 Apr, 2017 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

According to Sancho de Londoņo and Sir John Smythe, using the arquebus as a parrying stick in the offhand in conjunction with the sword constituted a common technique. Londoņo mentioned this in the context of arquebusiers charging opposing arquebusiers, writing that holding the arquebus in the left hand for parrying in this manner granted a notable advantage. Smythe argued against the weight of calivers at the time, an piece in between the arquebus and the full musket in size. He wrote that soldiers would typically drop heavy calivers for close combat rather than wield them in the off hand.

Blaise de Monluc described holding the crossbow in the offhand as a makeshift buckler in similar fashion.

From what I've seen, arqubusiers in the second half of the 16th century weighed 7-9lbs, while the full musket weighed 15-20+lbs.

I'd love see folks try out this sword-&-arquebus style in sparring and see how it works out.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

Posts: 164

PostPosted: Wed 12 Apr, 2017 4:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@Benjamin

Matt Easton had a video a while back where he describes that technique being used with 19th century carbines as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgbx4qXvOYE&t=504s
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