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  • Archers versus musketeers

    I've been thinking about this ever since I registered the rate of fire of the musket. If a company of musketeers were to be pitted against a group of archers, wouldn't the archers be victorious due to the rate of fire of their long bows? What I mean to say by this is that in the Battle of Naseby if the Royals had a cohort (I don't know the proper name for this) of long bow archers together with their musketeers wouldn't they have annihilated the Parliamentarian infantry before they had any chance to fire their first volley? If there were two parties of pikemen facing each other, wouldn't it be an effective tactic for scores of archers to be positioned right behind the pikemen ready to fire a volley of arrows at the opposing side on the order for the pikemen to give the room for them to do so by moving aside or to the like? When I think about it, musketeers and archers together with cannon would be a pretty effective fighting force in the age of the musket and all.

    Cheers.

  • #2
    You're falling into the old trap.

    Yes, the longbow had greater range and a higher rate of fire than early muskets, but only in skilled hands.

    England was coming out of a long period of peace and most of the volunteers on both sides had neither weapons nor military experience.

    In the time available, training musketeers or pikemen was feasible but, even if enough competent instructors could be found, it takes years to train an archer to any level of competence.

    This, coupled with the demands of manufacturing a large number of longbows from scratch, meant that there was no way a company of archers would've been ready in time to affect the outcome of the Civil War.
    Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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    • #3
      Longbowmen had 4 times the rate of fire as muskets did. However, it took a lifetime to train someone to effectively use a longbow. The upper body strength it took to wield the weapon was immense. Additionally the cost of good bows and arrows is nothing to scoff at. You could train an average man to use a musket in 90 days or less. It was also easier logistically to supply the arms and munitions to troops when all you had to deal with was muskets and powder. Most armies could cast their own musket balls with anything lead.

      Ben


      (Typed from my phone. Sorry for short reply)
      "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell

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      • #4
        In Japan, Samurai armies had a mix of musketeers and bowmen in their ranks. In their invasion of Korea, I believe the ratio was 1:1. The bowman provides superior rate of fire, while the musketeers bring in superior penetrating power. A wound from a musket is much more deadly than that from an arrow.

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        • #5
          Didn't Ben Franklin, at one point, suggested raising an contingent of archers to fight the redcoats during the American Revolution?

          The points above are valid and I can only reiterate that it takes a long time to train competent archers, while getting someone trained on a musket is a question of weeks, if not days.


          I can't remember what computer game it was, but almost 15 years ago, I played a game where, in dire straigths, I "bought" archer companies to complement my 1800-era little army. Faced with a much larger enemy ready to attack me, I place my archers in skirmishing position...Wow! I ended "digging" large holes - GIGANTIC HOLES - in the enemy force. Its attack never reached my archers skirmish lines, and my cavalry had a field day destroying the remnants of enemy force...My infantry sat around doing nothing during the battle! Keep in mind that this was a computer game with all its imperfection.

          "Archer vs Musketeer" - How about this one as a showdown on the show "Greatest Warriors"?

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          • #6
            You're missing the point, Capt AFB.

            Trained longbowmen could make a real mess of musketeers, in theory.

            At the time period posed by the question, there were no trained archers and no time to equip or train them.
            Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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            • #7
              Originally posted by the ace View Post
              At the time period posed by the question, there were no trained archers and no time to equip or train them.
              Indeed.
              Another factor that needs to be taken into account is cost, trained archers knew how valuble they were and therefore expected to be suitably rewarded for their services.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by the ace View Post
                You're falling into the old trap.

                Yes, the longbow had greater range and a higher rate of fire than early muskets, but only in skilled hands.

                England was coming out of a long period of peace and most of the volunteers on both sides had neither weapons nor military experience.

                In the time available, training musketeers or pikemen was feasible but, even if enough competent instructors could be found, it takes years to train an archer to any level of competence.

                This, coupled with the demands of manufacturing a large number of longbows from scratch, meant that there was no way a company of archers would've been ready in time to affect the outcome of the Civil War.
                Actually, while it is not germaine to the comparison, England and the rest of the UK was not short of military trained personel in the early 1640s. James and Charles had sent numerous English (mostly from the South East) and Lowland Scots to fight in the Thirty Year's War. Many of the commanders were Thirty Year's War veterans e.g. Prince Rupert, Leslie and Fairfax.
                Last edited by Surrey; 07 Jun 10, 15:50.
                "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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                • #9
                  As far as relyability and range go a longbow doesn't have much of an advantage. If we take for example a target about 100 yards out your musketman just needs to point and shoot (a trained man might also line up his sights), against a group of enemy soldiers he may or may not score a hit but if he does it will almost certainly kill or incapacitate. Meanwhile a longbowman not only has to point his bow but judge the correct angle, pull back the string the correct distance, adjust for wind and elevation etc. before releasing, and all of this must be correct if he wants to get anywhere near his target (not to mention that with no sights or measurement tools this is all pretty much done by gut instinct).

                  The musket does have weaknesses that can be exploited by a smart commander. But overall I'd rather have an army of musketeers.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by the ace View Post
                    You're missing the point, Capt AFB.

                    Trained longbowmen could make a real mess of musketeers, in theory.

                    At the time period posed by the question, there were no trained archers and no time to equip or train them.
                    Hmmm!! And here I was thinking I was in agreement with you Must be my French Canadian accent coming through the thread and confusing what I was trying to say!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RepublicanGuard View Post
                      As far as relyability and range go a longbow doesn't have much of an advantage. If we take for example a target about 100 yards out your musketman just needs to point and shoot (a trained man might also line up his sights), against a group of enemy soldiers he may or may not score a hit but if he does it will almost certainly kill or incapacitate. Meanwhile a longbowman not only has to point his bow but judge the correct angle, pull back the string the correct distance, adjust for wind and elevation etc. before releasing, and all of this must be correct if he wants to get anywhere near his target (not to mention that with no sights or measurement tools this is all pretty much done by gut instinct).

                      The musket does have weaknesses that can be exploited by a smart commander. But overall I'd rather have an army of musketeers.

                      An interesting trade-off is that in this scenario the archer and the musket are the respective weak links. In well-trained hands, the longbow was an accurate weapon while the musket remained inherently inaccurate. Thus, as indicated in earlier posts, more time to train will make the longbowman's arrows fly more accurately, but the musket will not become more accurate beyond a relatively quick point since you have a .65 or .67 ball rattling around a .69 barrel as it exits the muzzle.

                      Also, don't forget that adjustments for trajectory and wind must be done with a musket, as with a bow - hence clicks and trajectory charts on modern scopes.

                      Cheers,
                      Jon
                      "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                      -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                      (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jon Jordan View Post
                        An interesting trade-off is that in this scenario the archer and the musket are the respective weak links. In well-trained hands, the longbow was an accurate weapon while the musket remained inherently inaccurate. Thus, as indicated in earlier posts, more time to train will make the longbowman's arrows fly more accurately, but the musket will not become more accurate beyond a relatively quick point since you have a .65 or .67 ball rattling around a .69 barrel as it exits the muzzle.

                        Also, don't forget that adjustments for trajectory and wind must be done with a musket, as with a bow - hence clicks and trajectory charts on modern scopes.

                        Cheers,
                        Jon
                        Indeed, Smooth-bore muskets were very inaccurate beyond 75-100 yds. Though slow firing in comparison, the Rifled muskets that followed them were much more accurate.
                        BoRG
                        "... and that was the last time they called me Freakboy Moses"

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                        • #13
                          And then once the Minie Ball came about, the ROF issues associated with rifles were mostly alleviated, and you finally had a weapon that matched 3rds+ min ROF with precision (not accuracy, the difference being repeatable results) out to 200yds plus in moderately trained hands.
                          Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                          • #14
                            Wikipedia's article on arquebus features an extensive comparison between arquebus and archery advantages and disadvantages.

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arquebus

                            Sensemaker
                            It doesn't matter how much intelligence you have. What matters is how much intelligence you use.

                            If it is stupid, but works, it aint stupid.

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                            • #15
                              the same argument could, in theory, be applied to just about any weapon match up and in the end it would come down to the individual skill of its operator. For instance, a musketeer with very little battle experience thrust into the fray of battle may (as in the battle of Naseby with the new model army's musketeers) fail to use the musket effectively, so when battle hardened archers line up on his battalion, the results are obvious. Yet a group of crack musketeers could demolish the opposition equally. In short these contests could always go either way, a heavily armed knight could be felled by a mere arrow (Agincourt anyone?) but equally in an archer, could be mown down by a knight. Who they are (experience wise) Where they are and who they are being commanded by all factor in.

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