Author Topic: Österreichisches stoltz (Austrian proud)  (Read 8971 times)

Pyrrhus

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Re: Österreichisches stoltz (Austrian proud)
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2008, 04:14:28 pm »
Yes, Marco; it seems that the fact by which the pikes were useless is that under fire they became of little use; the pikers felt more as a target than a soldier, and dropped the pikes to get the musket of dead fellows. The advent of the fire weapons made these slow formations innefective.

Sorry if I am being unnecessarily sensitive (to your and mine feelings), but it was not my intention to criticize your great photos (you are too good in both photography and historical accurateness).

Indeed, I think your photograph is quite accurate, because I think that seems to be the most reasonable way in which a bayonet infantry can face cavalry. All other possible options seem inferior than just standwith the points facing the horses. You can't run away because cavalry is faster and you may make lose the battle. All you can is try to stop the horses by stabbing them, as with a pike.

The problem I think is this: a horse has much more strenght, velocity, mass and inertia than a man, thus, the pikers do not rely in their own force to stop cavalry, because it is inferior to that of the horses, thus they plant the pike butt into the soil, so that the horse's strenght is stopped by something stronger than a man. But bayonets seem too short to be planted on the soil... so even if you stab the horse, you cannot stop it and the infantry might be overwhelmed. The greater the velocity of the cavalry, the less likely it will be to stab a horse while avoiding to be under their feet.

I was thinking yesterday that perhaps the bayonet is better to fight other infantry. I thought... why to put a bayonet and not a man with a musket and a saber in the infantry? The armament would be heavier, but not so much. There is necessary more metal to waste, as a saber is bigger than a bayonet, but many rich countries may likely have afforded the cost of a saber for the front lines at least.

Perhaps to fight well with a saber, you must drop the musket, thus tending to lose it in the struggle. But I think that if you put two men in equality of conditions (force, agility), one with bayonet, the other with saber, the man with the saber has advantage, he can cut and stab, while the man with the bayonet on musket can only stab. However, there is an advantage the man with the bayonet has: the longer reach.

Although I think one on one the man with the saber would most likely win, I think that if the men with bayonets can manage to form a close, shoulder to shoulder unit, they can have adventage over saber infantry, in that they may stab when the other infantry comes into reach, before the sabers can have the necessary reach (it will be difficult for the saber infants to avoid the bayonets by dodging backwards given the forwards movement of the soldiers behind).

Sorry if all this is out of place... I just get interested in this stuff after reading on the use of the Macedonian sarissa (long spear used in hedgehog-like formations with which the Macedonians defeated the Greek hoplites, until then the best soldiers).

Dan

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Re: Österreichisches stoltz (Austrian proud)
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2008, 11:58:29 am »
The problem with pikes is that they are very difficult to manage and need a lot of training to handle well plus it means a large number of your soldiers can't use a gun.  A musket and ammunition and a pike is too much for one soldier to carry.

A musket and bayonet is much easier to handle, plus every soldier can also fire a musket as well.

I think the last army to use pikes were the Swedes who had some at the Battle of Poltava in 1709.

However, the Irish rebels in 1798 used a lot of them (they couldn't get guns) and inflicted a couple of defeats on British cavalry who were daft enough to charge them.

A long bayonet on a musket gives a reach of nearly 6 foot (just under 2 metres) which will reach up to a man on a horse. I've actually tried this with some re-enactors using a British Martini-Henry rifle and a real Victorian bayonet.

I know some English Civil War re-enactors who have their pikes made so they come apart like a fishing rods just so they can transprt them by car.

Pyrrhus

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Re: Österreichisches stoltz (Austrian proud)
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2008, 08:50:16 pm »
Hi Dan, I agree that it is by far better to use muskets before than using pikes, even without bayonet: with muskets you can kill by shooting both cavalry and infantry, as well as anything else, while the pikes almost only you can stop cavalry and can hardly fight musket infantry.

A musket with bayonet can reach a horseman, but the problem I think is that it cannot be used as effectively as poikes in defeating cavalry.

To fight cavalry you need to stop the horse: you cannot just try to kill the horseman. The horse comes with much strenght, velocity and inertia: no man can stop him. If you do not stop the horse, it will throw you to the floor and then you will be stepped on by the horses following the one throwing you to the floor.

In close infantry formation, you cannot put yourself aside and let the horse to pass. Even more, the cavalry imply many horses one at the side of the other. Even if you stab it with a bayonet, or to its horseman, its velocity and inertia will tend to disestabilize you while you hurt him, and tend to throw you to the floor, with its problems mentioned above.

As no man has the strenght to stop a horse, pikes affirmed on the ground have to do this. They stab the horse, and the ground reaction force, much stronger than that of men, halts the inertia of the horse.

Whatever the lenght of a musket with bayonet, it does not seem a group of men with them can stop a cavalry formation and its inertia, and thus to avoid being stepped on. I do not think you will ruin a musket by forcing it to stop a horse by being grounded on the floor.

Thus, I think muskets with bayonets are not suitable to stop cavalry in the sense pikes were, and think they are most likely of use against other infantry. Shooting alone would have been more important to stop cavalry (or try to) than stabbing with bayonet.