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  • Napoleonic Weaponry

    Like to open a thread to discuss the weapons used during this period. From the humble musket to the rifle, the lance to the sabre, Congreave's rocket to Napoleon's favourite 12 pounder cannon, right up to the awesome 100 gun first rate of the Royal Navy. Discuss the pro's and con's, post some pic's, love to hear your opinion's.
    Never Fear the Event

    Admiral Lord Nelson

  • #2
    Originally posted by mike brown View Post
    Like to open a thread to discuss the weapons used during this period. From the humble musket to the rifle, the lance to the sabre, Congreave's rocket to Napoleon's favourite 12 pounder cannon, right up to the awesome 100 gun first rate of the Royal Navy. Discuss the pro's and con's, post some pic's, love to hear your opinion's.
    The British by this time were using the India Pattern Brown Bess Musket, a bit shorter than its forebearer that fought in the American Revolution and French and Indian Wars, but by no means less lethal. It too packed a .75 calibre ball and could hurl it accurately out to about 50 metres. After that and because the Bess was a smooth bore musket, the ball began to drift on its course.

    The Bess' Bayonet was a tri-corner blade, about 18" in length with blood grooves carved into each side, that screwed tight onto the musket barrel's lug and provided the British soldier with a means to get "upclose and personal" with his opponents and also to ward off an enemy's cavalry charge. Standing closely shoulder to shoulder in a traditional "Square", the British Infantry would present their bayonet fixed muskets outward, making their position into a hedgehog of steel-pointed bayonets that most French cavalrymen would hesitate before charging headlong into.

    Standard operating procedure was for a British Soldier to thrust the bayonet into an enemy's torso and give the musket a twist before withdrawing it from the man's body. This resulted in a non-clotting wound that was difficult, if not impossible for a surgeon to close.
    "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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    • #3
      Standard operating procedure was for a British Soldier to thrust the bayonet into an enemy's torso and give the musket a twist before withdrawing it from the man's body. This resulted in a non-clotting wound that was difficult, if not impossible for a surgeon to close.
      The standard tri-corn bayonet inflicted a gruesome enough wound that was hard enough to stitch up. wonder why that wanted them to twist. I guess it would make it easier to remove.

      Matt
      "We Will Stay Here, If We Must All Go to Hell Together"
      -Col. John R. Cooke, 27th NC

      Avatar: My Grandfather on the right. His twin on the left. Their older brother in the middle. In their Navy Blues

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      • #4
        Originally posted by AIrchallenged View Post
        The standard tri-corn bayonet inflicted a gruesome enough wound that was hard enough to stitch up. wonder why that wanted them to twist. I guess it would make it easier to remove.

        Matt
        Precisely! Muscle tissue has a tendency to grip onto an intruding blade. Twisting the bayonet-fixed musket would tear up the muscles and make it easier to withdraw. Back in the day, I was taught that if you ever got a bayonet stuck in somebody, the quickest way to withdraw it is to touch off a round with your rifle. This defeated the whole purpose for me because, why stab some poor bastard when you could just shoot him and be done with it? Then, I realized the true shock value and effect of a bayonet charge. Historically speaking, there are few modern instances where a bayonet charge's cold steel is met with equal and opposing cold steel. Usually, the guys on the receiving end see the logic of living to fight another day and run like hell in the opposite direction.
        "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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        • #5
          I will go with the obvious ones for me. The standard musket vs. the Baker Rifle.

          Standard:
          pros: could be fired faster, more lethal bullet (ie larger projectile size)
          cons: heavier (only 1 lbs ), less accurate

          Baker:
          pros: more accurate, lighter if only by a pound
          cons: slower rate of fire when loaded appropriately for most lethality, less lethal in turn of round size)

          Basically each made up for the others weaknesses ironically.

          Matt
          "We Will Stay Here, If We Must All Go to Hell Together"
          -Col. John R. Cooke, 27th NC

          Avatar: My Grandfather on the right. His twin on the left. Their older brother in the middle. In their Navy Blues

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          • #6
            Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
            Precisely! Muscle tissue has a tendency to grip onto an intruding blade. Twisting the bayonet-fixed musket would tear up the muscles and make it easier to withdraw. Back in the day, I was taught that if you ever got a bayonet stuck in somebody, the quickest way to withdraw it is to touch off a round with your rifle. This defeated the whole purpose for me because, why stab some poor bastard when you could just shoot him and be done with it? Then, I realized the true shock value and effect of a bayonet charge. Historically speaking, there are few modern instances where a bayonet charge's cold steel is met with equal and opposing cold steel. Usually, the guys on the receiving end see the logic of living to fight another day and run like hell in the opposite direction.
            Every reenactment when we do the weapons talk the Captain always mentions this and it is somewhat amusing to see the grimaces on the peoples faces. Still doesn't beat the time the major described an artillery shell ricocheting around fort macon or the time we each picked a target in the crowd for the bayonet charge and one of the younger kids who was sitting front and center ran to his parents in terror. (poor kid thought we were really attacking him.)

            Matt
            "We Will Stay Here, If We Must All Go to Hell Together"
            -Col. John R. Cooke, 27th NC

            Avatar: My Grandfather on the right. His twin on the left. Their older brother in the middle. In their Navy Blues

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            • #7
              Wot about them airguns the Austrian light bobs toted, Boney got really miffed about 'em and decreed anybody captured with one should be shot out of hand!
              The long toll of the brave
              Is not lost in darkness
              Over the fruitful earth
              And athwart the seas
              Hath passed the light of noble deeds
              Unquenchable forever.

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              • #8
                Congreave's rockets

                The successful wars fought by the British against the Indian princes, especially Tipoo Sahib, introduced the British to rockets. The rockets had not proven particularly effective and did not impress a young Arthur Wellesley, who later became the Duke of Wellington, but captured samples were returned to Woolwich Arsenal in 1804. William Congreve was the eldest son of an official at the Royal laboratory at Woolwich.
                ‘ In 1804, it first occurred to me that….the projectile force of the rocket…….might be successfully employed, both afloat and ashore, as a military engine, in many cases where the recoil of exploding gunpowder’ made the use of artillery impossible. Congreve bought the best rockets on the London market but found they had a greatest range of only 600 yards. He knew that the Indian princes had possessed rockets that would travel much further than this. After spending ‘several hundred pounds’ of his own money on experiments he was able to make a rocket that would travel 1500 yards. He applied to Lord Chatham to have a number of large rockets constructed at Woolwich Arsenal, these achieved ranges of up to 2000 yards. By 1806 he was producing 32pdr rockets, which flew 3000 yards. The great advantage of Congreve’s invention was that it possessed many of the qualities of artillery but was free from the encumbrance of guns; wherever a packhorse or an infantryman could go, the rocket could go and be used to provide artillery support.
                The first use of the rockets by the Army was in the siege of Copenhagen. This enterprise was really a naval operation, as the aim of the expedition was the capture of the Danish fleet. As the Danes stubbornly defended their City, a mass bombardment was decided upon, to pummel the Danes into submission. Rockets were landed and placed in the batteries in an attempt to cause mass destruction and conflagrations within Copenhagen. In this bombarding role, the rockets proved frighteningly successful, killing many and causing numerous serious fires as the Danes found that the combustible material in these rockets was extremely difficult to extinguish. The rockets proved to be a decisive factor in forcing the Danes to capitulate, thus allowing their fleet to be removed to Britain.
                Wellington had little time for the rockets, as their main successes had been to bombard towns, causing fires and destroying the morale of the defenders. This was little use to Wellington in Spain, as he could not use such weapons on Spanish towns held by the French for the political fall out from extensive civilian casualties, which were sure to occur. In Southern France, Wellington had successfully fostered good relations with the civilian population and did not want to wreck this work by destroying their towns either.
                Those used by the field artillery came in 4 sizes 6, 9, 12 and 18lbs. Although other nations did develop rockets after the British model only the British used them in action, with 2 rocket troops being shown as part of the Royal Horse Artillery (due to their speed) in 1813.
                The British attack on Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, in 1814, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write in the "Star Spangled Banner" (now the U.S. national anthem): ". . . the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air." Congreve continued to improve his rockets' range and accuracy, leading many European countries to form rocket corps, usually attached to artillery units.

                source;Napoleonic Literature
                Last edited by Post Captain; 04 Oct 07, 09:59.
                Never Fear the Event

                Admiral Lord Nelson

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
                  Wot about them airguns the Austrian light bobs toted, Boney got really miffed about 'em and decreed anybody captured with one should be shot out of hand!

                  http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?im...%3Den%26sa%3DN
                  Found this very interesting link, not sure if this is what you mean.
                  Last edited by Post Captain; 04 Oct 07, 10:19.
                  Never Fear the Event

                  Admiral Lord Nelson

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                  • #10


                    Some good views of Napoleonic artillery and a few uniforms for good measure.
                    Last edited by Post Captain; 06 Oct 07, 10:07.
                    Never Fear the Event

                    Admiral Lord Nelson

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                    • #11
                      Swords: curved saber vs straight saber - cut and slash vs thrust

                      The light cavalry was armed with shorter and curved sabers, the heavy cavalry with longer and straight sabers/swords or with pallash ( broadsword ).
                      Thrusting was up close and personal. If someone attacks you with a straight saber, know that you are dealing with someone who is not afraid of combat, and has the psychological mindset to back it up.
                      The cuts and slashes made horrible wounds but they were not as deadly as the thrusts. Although historical accounts tell about cavalryman taking numerous minor punctures and surviving, generally the thrust was more deadly than cut or slash. The thrust made a narrow wound but it was deep and damaging not only the surface and bones but also to the most vital organs ( causing internal bleedings, infections, etc ). The thrust was considered as more serious bussiness than slash or cut. A Captain of British heavy Dragoons wrote about the French using the thrust: "It is worthy of remark that scarcely one Frenchman died of his wounds, although dreadfully chopped, whereas 12 British Dragoons were killed on the spot and others dangerously wounded by thrusts."

                      To be continued...
                      My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

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                      • #12
                        When two cavalrymen are charging each other at greater speed the "advantage" is on the side of the heavy cavalry. In this short moment it was impossible for the light cavalryman to parry and then cut. The opponent was far out of reach within a second. Although such situation gave advantage to the heavy cavalryman he rarely used it. There were two reasons for this:

                        -It was difficult to retrieve fast enough the long blade from enemy's body without having the hand twisted or even being thrown off the horse. To avoid these problems the thrust couldn't be too deep. Shallow thrust however was not deadly.
                        -To deliver an effective thrust one must lean forward. This movement made his head very vulnerable and exposed to a cut by the enemy. For this reason the heavy cavalryman was protected with helmet. The helmet protected the head from majority of blows, and only the most powerful cuts cut through it.

                        The cuts were delivered either diagonally or horizontaly and were aimed at the ear, face, head and forehand of the adversary. The cut was more instinctive blow than the thrust and in melees the men tended to cut even if their sabers were more suited to the thrust.

                        To be continued...
                        My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

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                        • #13
                          Slash was very common in small war where would be a lot of one-on-one fights and circling as the horses had much space. The slash disabled or wounded the enemy rather than killed him. Slash required less force than cut.

                          Cuts often failed from the blade turning enough to make the blow one with the flat. There were numerous cases where cavalryman received many slashes or cuts and continued his fight. Cut or slash to man's ( or horse's ) face resulted in a lot of blood and horrible wound but was not life threatening. In 1807 at Heilsberg, Colonel Chipault of the French 4th Cuirassiers had received 56 sabre cuts and recovered perfectly. Only rarely enemy's head was taken off with a clean cut or slash, but it made a life lasting impression.

                          A saber raised for a cut or slash left the body exposed to a thrust. The point reached the target faster than the edge because it traveled in a straight line, whereas the latter had to move in a curved path. A parried point could be re-aligned faster than the edge as the thrust required less strength to wield.

                          One could deliver an effective thrust also with the shorter curved saber. According to Charles Parquin, Prince Louis of Prussia was killed by a thrust to his chest delivered by French Hussar Guindey, "Brushing aside Guindey's weapon, the Prince struck Guindey a blow across the face with his saber. He was about to strike a second time when Guindey countered and ran him through the chest. Killed instantly, the Prince fell from his horse."
                          Officer Chlapowski of the Polish Lancers ( French Imperial Guard ) wrote that his Lancers were also trained with the curved saber to use the point. ( Chlapowski - "Memoirs of a Polish Lancer" )
                          Last edited by Zouave; 06 Oct 07, 20:41.
                          My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

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                          • #14
                            -British cavalry swords:

                            Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Sabre - This saber is most famous for its use by British Light Dragoons and Hussars in the Peninsular War and the battle of Waterloo.




                            Pattern 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword - This sword saw service with the British Dragoon Guards and other heavy cavalry units throughout the Napoleonic Era.




                            -French cavalry swords:

                            Imperial Guard Light Cavalry Sabre - This saber became adopted by many units in Napoleon's Imperial Guard. These units included: Chasseurs a Cheval, 1st Lighthorse-Lancers ( Polish Lancers ), 2nd Lighthorse-Lancers ( Red or Dutch Lancers ), Horse Artillery of the Guard and Artillery train of the Guard.




                            AN XII Dragoon Sword - This sword ( straight saber ) was introduced in 1805.




                            Cuirassier Trooper's Sword - Used by Napoleon's famous cuirassiers ( line heavy cavalry ).

                            Last edited by Zouave; 06 Oct 07, 21:38.
                            My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

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                            • #15
                              Great pics of cavalry sabres.
                              Never Fear the Event

                              Admiral Lord Nelson

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