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Glennan Carnie




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Jan, 2011 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The musket is just better than the bow, longbow, or crossbow. (Tee hee...the cat among the pigeons)


Christian,

I'm a passionate and dedicated warbow archer, but I absolutely agree with you: the musket is the superior weapon.

Quote:
I'm anxious to get a Steve Stratton Longbow.


Very good choice. I own several of Steve's bows. There's very little that can touch my 130lb Italian self-Yew bow for performance (weight-for-weight).
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Thu 20 Jan, 2011 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not know. Better is a hard word to really use in this way in my mind.

To me the reason the musket won over the bow had little to do with anything but the average somewhat lazy guy could pick it up and get it rather quickly, days. Could we blame them? They have other things going on as well. Where as the bow would take months to get and years to be good at.


In most other accounts historic records show how the bow was in many ways 'better' but that by the 16th they just did not have the number of men practicing and using the bow in a way that was going to translate to military effectiveness.

I think Dan also has a excellent point he mentioned back some time ago. Logistics are much against the longbow.

Can you really keep a gun loaded until maybe the 19th century sometime when they begin real cased bullets? Any amount of change in weather would cause medieval and early modern powders to shift and that'd be quite an issue. Most of the military manuals I have seen into the 18th almost forbid one from loading it for any long duration of time, perhaps partially for this reason.


RPM
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Jan, 2011 3:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another reason why the musket kind of outclassed all other arms was mentioned by Mr Cameron in passing - with most of war being small encounter and walking, you'd very much like to have an arm that can serve you well during these times. A small group of musketeers will certainly find it within their capability to turn away both cavalry (at least some tale from the Italian wars I've read somewhere implies as much) and infantry with their arms while Archers....well, Archers foraging are kind of boned when meeting cavalry as we know.
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Keith Burgess




Location: New England Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Jan, 2011 5:01 pm    Post subject: Crossbow V Musket?         Reply with quote

I can't really comment much re the crossbow, though I have read that they were accurate and powerful over quite a long range.
The musket however I do know about, and use a flintlock fusil myself. The advantage of a musket is noise and damage. They are easy and fast to reload (not so with a flint rifle), but were never meant to be accurate. They were designed to be fired en mass into the oncoming enemy, no aiming was involved, just pointing in the general direction.
However, having said that, they are fairly accurate out to 50-80 yards, and they do have advantages. For instance, the crossbow had to be accurate, it simply had to hit its target to be of any affect. The musket however shooting a .74 cal round lead ball, or larger, did a lot of damage whatever or wherever it hit. It would take large chunks out of trees or anything else someone might be hiding behind. But of course, the military did not hide, they stood in ranks waiting to be shot, and one ball could go through two people.
The Brown bess could also mount a bayonet, which was a formidable weapon in trained hands. The musket itself was designed to take a lot of punishment and could be used as a club with little chance of any damage to the musket.

My .62 cal Flintlock fusil.

.74 cal Brown Bess musket.[/img]

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau.
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Alain D.





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Jan, 2011 6:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian G. Cameron wrote:

The musket is just better than the bow, longbow, or crossbow. (Tee hee...the cat among the pigeons)


I too am a passionate warbow archer and I agree with this. However, one thing to consider is that you're talking about a flintlock Brown Bess, which was a much more refined weapon than the handgonnes and arquebuses that were used at the time that bows began to decline. The fact that clumsy, ineffective handgonnes began to replace bows on the battlefield seems to suggest that the replacement was initially due to the ease of training as opposed to any performance benefit as Randall mentioned. With time, muskets developed into more refined and reliable weapons with established tactics.

As I mentioned earlier, I still think that a longbow army pitched against a line of musketeers would fare reasonably well as Benjamin Franklin suggested. At that point, however, it was simply impossible to do that, not to mention that spreading out the musketeers would defeat any advantage of range or arrow-loosing rate of the bow. I also agree with Christian in that longbows weren't really any more accurate at long range than muskets anyway. It's simply impossible to consistently predict exactly where a moving target will be and have your arrow land at that precise point in the time it takes for an arrow to reach its target. Arrows also have natural deviations in their flights like musket balls.

-Alain
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Michail F




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PostPosted: Fri 21 Jan, 2011 7:40 pm    Post subject: Matchlock wheelock muskets and pistols         Reply with quote

I can't add very much to this excellent information filled forum which I haven't even had time to read completely yet, but I will say that from my own experience of firing live ammunition in two wheelock muskets, two matchlocks and a wheelock pistol, 30 to 80 caliber, that as far as I'm concerned, these weapons are as powerful, deadly, accurate and very nearly as efficient as say smoothbore US Civil War muskets as late as the M1842 and all the various percussion conversion types of that conflict. The only difference is that a percussion cap is a whole lot easier to use than match of course, and is far less subject to weather conditions, and cleaning/maintaining a wheelock is obviously a lot more difficult than a percussion musket. Generally though, I've found matchlocks and wheelocks should not be underestimated at all in any way.
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Keith Burgess




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PostPosted: Fri 21 Jan, 2011 11:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Matchlock wheelock muskets and pistols         Reply with quote

Michail F wrote:
I can't add very much to this excellent information filled forum which I haven't even had time to read completely yet, but I will say that from my own experience of firing live ammunition in two wheelock muskets, two matchlocks and a wheelock pistol, 30 to 80 caliber, that as far as I'm concerned, these weapons are as powerful, deadly, accurate and very nearly as efficient as say smoothbore US Civil War muskets as late as the M1842 and all the various percussion conversion types of that conflict. The only difference is that a percussion cap is a whole lot easier to use than match of course, and is far less subject to weather conditions, and cleaning/maintaining a wheelock is obviously a lot more difficult than a percussion musket. Generally though, I've found matchlocks and wheelocks should not be underestimated at all in any way.


Good post.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau.
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N Cioran




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2011 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The obvious economic factors aside, accounts like that of Maitre Jehan at the siege of Orleans in 1429 are early testaments to the efficacy of the matchlock. He is accounted as having done as much damage to the English in a handful of days as all of the defenders of Gaucourt had in the seven months of the siege. On one occasion he is said to have killed 5 men with two shots.

Have fun!
Cole
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Gottfried P. Doerler




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2011 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

another hint at the superiority of the musket is their readily acceptance by american indians.
most indian tribes probably had a society artful in the use of the bow, but they were keen on aquiring muskets, as far as i know, and there even were some laws prohibiting the sell of firelocks to indians (Arbuthnot and Ambrister incident 1818 ?).
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Keith Burgess




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2011 4:15 pm    Post subject: The Smoothbore For Indians.         Reply with quote

Gottfried P. Doerler wrote:
another hint at the superiority of the musket is their readily acceptance by american indians.
most indian tribes probably had a society artful in the use of the bow, but they were keen on aquiring muskets, as far as i know, and there even were some laws prohibiting the sell of firelocks to indians (Arbuthnot and Ambrister incident 1818 ?).


The woodland Indians love of the smoothbore trade gun goes way back, but it was the fusils they liked more than the heavier military muskets. The fusil is much lighter than a musket, and in general the trade gun was 20-24 gauge, much smaller than the .74 cal Brown Bess. Yet it was/is very versatile. Dispite its smaller size, it can still take anything from fowl to buffalo. It can shoot round ball, swan shot (buckshot), and bird shot, or any combination of two of these at the same time.
They are much easier to load than the rifle. Originally patches were not used, the powder and shot was held in place with wadding or wads. These days of course you can use patching for more accuracy with round ball.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau.
http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2011 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cioran,

You have to be careful with that story as first it seems somewhat isolated as far as how good a shot he was and even in the story itself they are demonstrating it as an amazing feat and as many/most medieval accounts exaggerated. The accounts of the time give a very underwhelming impression of personal firearms. That said there is no doubt by this time they were in use and maimed/killed people with them, they just were playing second to bows and crossbows in the missile section.

One of the main things here that is missing is really the fact that the first hundred to hundred and fifty years guns were still mostly experimental. The later guns that they use are hundreds of years of trial, error and advancement. Bert Hall gives a great summary of this in his book.

To me the big advantages of the bow over muskets, even later ones is rate of fire. I have heard of people getting 6-8 shots of with their replica guns off (though with earlier ones results are still open to question as the powders most use now is vastly different) but that is still half or less than a good archer can loose in the same time. I think bows also have less trouble in weather opposed to some types of firing systems which until relatively recently was an issue. being quiet is also at times an advantage, though I am sure the terrible noise guns but more so cannons brought to the battlefield must have really rattled the novice soldier.. Of course no one can deny the learning curve is much more user friendly, guns were able ans continue to be able to improve and can cause a heck of a lot of damage if they hit with firearms, even earlier ones but just like everything they have limitations.

RPM
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Keith Burgess




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2011 8:21 pm    Post subject: 18th century Crossbows.         Reply with quote


1st Quarter.


Late 17thc, - early 18thc. Bullet firing crossbow.


18thc.


18th century German Hunting crossbow.


18th century Swiss.


Mid 18th century German.


18th century English bullet firing crossbow.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Wed 16 Mar, 2011 11:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We should possible compare crossbows, bows and firearms during times when their corresponding versions were contemporary with each other and used in the same region of the world.

For the 16th century naval weapons among the Maghrebi Arabic were firearms, arquebuses, for long range and bows, recurve, for short range.

A similar arrangement between bow and firearm can be found in Japan with Toyotomo Hideyoshi, albeit the bows decreased in his second invasion of Korea. The Japanese tried to fight it at land, Koreans at sea. The Koreans had cannons, unlike the Japanese, but used archery instead of muskets.

Light mounted troops in the 16th-17th Polish-Lithunian Commonwealth often carried bow and pistol. For them the firearm was a shortrange weapon while the bow was for longer ranges.

All these soldiers were aware of expenses and capabilities of their weapons and made choices that under certain conditions one or the other suited better.

So far I didn't mention the crossbow. Thalhoffer has a nice ilustration in his section on mounted combat that shows a lancer without a shield holding the lance head high and slanting down in order to deflect the bolt of a crossbow aimed at him by another mounted soldier a short distance away. This picture illustrates that a fencing master could claim that it was possible to defend oneself against crossbow bolts. This applies even more so to arrows from a bow. Their projectiles are roughly in between 100-300 km/h(62,2 mph to 186mph) fast. That's the same speed as a ball in lacrosse or pelota(before being deflected on the wall). It's not impossible to catch these projectiles and they are balls, not bolts or arrows which are even better to catch. I don't want to claim that it's possible to defend against all arrows and bolts, especially if they come in a thick shower, but it's neither impossible. A central part of that defence is the shield and this is a nice article on its origins and developments: http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/Kent/shieweap/shgenex3.html Please note there are societies who didn't have shields in our sense, but rather "defensive sticks". The efficiency is again depending on the volume of projectiles faced.

Back to firearms, they pose a problem that has been discussed in military literature of that age: a defense against bullets. There are several ways: strengthen bodyarmour, do some magic and become quick enough to catch them. All were tried, an example for bodyarmour are the European cuirassiers, magic was for example used in the 30years war in order to become a "frozen one", someone whom death would do no harm, and finally the so called boxer-rebellion in China. Well, none worked, the armour approach worked best, but it became heavier and heavier until it was discharged and centuries later reintroduced with much lighter materials. So the issue about firearms is not if they hit, but that there's no protection against them, especially at short ranges.

Looking at the early Spanish tercio, we have the firearms among the skirmishers and the javelins among the troops of the line(javelins are compareable to crossbow bolts, but heavier). During the 80 Years War the development was that the arquebus become a weapon of the line and the skirmishers had musketeers, who in turn became also troops of the line with the Dutch and Swedish military development. The important common issue is that the skirmishers always had a weapon against which it was hard to impossible defend. This development was possibly started with the heavy crossbows in Europe who are claimed to have been able to go through shield and armour (likely an exceptional event because in Nuremberg armour had to proof being able to withstand a crossbow).

The unsolved problem with handheld firearms until the introduction of the Mini ball or widespread powerful airguns was long range accuracy. In this field both bow and crossbow could excell, but the problem was not hitting, but wounding enough to be worth the energy spent. This had to be weighed against the possibility of doing quick damage at close range, for which the bow was very good, but the crossbow was also useful, as the Hussites showed. All three weapons could easily be handled at close range, But not all were equally effective over long ranges, that depended very much on the terrain and the enemy's equipment.

The handheld firearm had from early on one advantage that has been pointed out already, it was difficult to destroy, so holding it in harms way for the weapon didn't disable from using it again. Thalhofer shows the crossbow being similarly used against a lance, but it's not clear whether the prod is undamaged.

There may have been a mental problem, the more difficult it was to make a weapon ready for combat, the more likely were errors, even more so if this task had to be done while personally being threatened. This applied to Korean archers claimed to be running away after the first shot because the Japanese infantry approached so fast, to early firearms that were quite crude and simple, but still their operators were well paied specialists recruited from chosen regions. Bows and crossbows used at short range are not so prone to mismanagement, especially bows, but long range skill required specialists who were with both weapons payed more than the ordinary spearmen.
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Keith Burgess




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Mar, 2011 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply to Kurt.         Reply with quote

Thank you for the link Kurt.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau.
http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kenneth Enroth wrote:
I don't think the idea of using bow and arrow instead of muskets would have been met with much acceptance. The bow was probably seen as something outdated and its use would be seen as a step backwards. They didn't have the historic perspective we do now but probably tought themselves the pinnacle of evolution so to speak and would have been contemptous of bows.

Also a commander making a decision to use bows would take a huge personal risk. He would have to be very brave to stick his neck out like that.


I want to contribute something to this discussion about the American experience that has not yet been mentioned. The introduction of crossbows to the natives in North America was an achievement of early African slaves (http://www.diaspora.uiuc.edu/A-AAnewsletter/newsletter16.html). Portuguese ships introduced crossbows to Africa (which were prefered over personal gunpowder firearms, but not "cannons"). It was a very crude type that could be found in Norway. So the crossbow was part of the slaves and the Indians culture in America and a relict from the past in Western European warfare. Similarly the bow was a weapon of the natives, however, I've heard so far nothing of Indian auxilliaries of the British mowing down American troops with showers of arrows. While racial prejudices and modernism may have played a part, we possibly miss the mentioned ability to deflect these projectiles mentioned above. The American troops during and after the war of Independence did face experienced archers who could chose between archery and firearms and whatever their choice, they didn't win.

The often repeated myth that crossbows are slower than bows is total nonsense. It's like the claim that a howitzer is slower firing than a Fairchild-Republic A10 and for this reason all handheld firearms are slow firing (please note the very nonsense). Just another English myth on how great the longbow was (try to tell that the skandinavians who discharged their longbows for crossbows, yes very similar longbows to the English and Welsh versions). Light crossbows like the Norwegian/African/American type weren't slower than bows. Digest that. Afterwards look at the lower half of this page: http://www.atarn.org/letters/ltr_feb99.htm the crossbow has the same draw length as a bow, the prod the same strength and no complicated mechanism to handle. In a few words: there were crossbows as fast as bows, faster than bows(Chinese repeating crossbow) and slower(ratchet) to much slower(windlass arbalest). Any general statement that crossbows were slower is nonsense. They could shoot as fast with the same amount of energy and current tests on footspanned crossbows on youtube show lots of room for speed improvement because a human has 2 hands he can use at the same time for trained movements. That's the difficult part with handling a crossbow and would explain why the heck mercenaries from far away countries were hired who were (!!!!) more expensive than English longbowmen.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 1:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the Native American bow--in the Southeast, at least, the 18th c. European superpowers competed against each other to secure the deerskin trade and win native alliance against the other powers. Guns were a big part of that competition. Even as early as the revolution I'm not sure how common the bow would have been in combat.

Andrew Jackson wrote that at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (US v. Creeks, 1814) his men fought the Creek warriors "muzzle to muzzle through the port holes, in which many of the enemys balls were welded to the bayonets of our musquets....".

Sounds like a pretty good wall of musket fire, whatever other weapons the Creeks might have had on hand.

-Sean

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Andrew Dickgiesser





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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I didn't see this subject broached so forgive me if someone has covered it -

Cannons really had a large impact on the preference of guns over bows. Longbow archers shot grouped in relatively dense formations to maximize the impact of so many arrows in so small a space. This was effective until armies realized, throughout the Renaissance, with the continuing development of cannons that they could shoot a single cannon into one of these formations and cause much damage. This was the original impetus to abandon these dense formations, i.e. pike squares and the like, and string out the shooters in a line; this limited the damage a single cannonball could cause. On the line, much of the advantages of the longbow are lost as the amount of arrows in a given space is much less dense than it was in the traditional Agincourt-style formations. In such a line, the relative advantages of the gun as mentioned elsewhere on this thread (cheapness to make and train on, penetrative power etc) make their predominant usage a foregone conclusion.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 4:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

True, firearms were a European export with high demand in other parts of the world. Most certainly the introduction of gunpowder weapons is closely linked to the cannon in order to destroy fortifications. I would argue that the opponents of the Catholics made the development of effective field artillery (but weren't the first to try). The Hussites had their small cannons on wagons and the Swedes integrated firepower into regiments. As far as I remember, the Swedes had units 5-6 men deep. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that's the same depth and density of soldiers as the English longbowmen in the 100 Years War.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Mar, 2011 7:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Crossbows confuse me. While some sources - specially Anna Comnena - stress their penetration, the short power stroke on European models almost precludes impressive performance. And these two reconstructions produced thoroughly lackluster results beyond what power stroke calculations would suggest. Even the 616lb piece only manages 95 J with a heavy bolt. A 150lb English warbow would impart 124-134 J to an arrow of similar weight.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Mar, 2011 2:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
Most certainly the introduction of gunpowder weapons is closely linked to the cannon in order to destroy fortifications.


The ability of cannon to knock down thin high walls certainly helped it spread in Europe. Perhaps a different story in China, where fortifications were often cannon-proof, even before cannon had been invented (rammed earth, 10-20 metres thick). The minimal effect on fortifications didn't stop the Ming from having the world's biggest (and most effective) artillery park.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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