The author is an acknowledged specialist on the Crusades and the Teutonic Knights who has been producing some very interesting books that follow the influence of weapons on the development of warfare. This new book is a welcome addition to his series and looks at the period from 1700 to the start of the French Revolutionary War.
NAME: Bayonets and Scimitars, Arms, Armies and Mercenaries, 1700-1789
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: William Urban
PUBLISHER: Frontline, Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Edged tools, arms skills, tactics, blades, rifle blades
DESCRIPTION: The author is an acknowledged specialist on the Crusades and the Teutonic Knights who has been producing some very interesting books that follow the influence of weapons on the development of warfare. This new book is a welcome addition to his series and looks at the period from 1700 to the start of the French Revolutionary War.
The period covered was an extraordinary period. It was the point where Great Britain was beginning its expansion into a great empire based on naval supremacy. The Seven Years War saw the Royal Navy establish supremacy over the French, but it also saw the slave owners and colonial politicians in the East America colonies break away. There was almost continuous warfare at some level and weapons shaped the tactics and influenced the strategic plans.
While Britain was beginning to found its Empire, Europe was changing, with the Russians and Prussians following their military ambitions.
Guns had been taken into battle since the Middle Ages. However, bladed weapons were still in common use to 1789. It was during the 18th Century that the gun began to take over from the bow and the sword, but it still had its limitations. The first challenge faced by firearms was the quality of gunpowder and the difficulties of using it in very wet conditions. The flintlock musket was the primary gun of the period. It was not easy to reload in the face of the enemy, making the bayonets an essential partner, allowing the rifle to be used as a spear for close quarters combat when there was no time to reload the gun. Lines of infantry might still fire several volleys before closing and relying on bayonet and sword, although the improving capabilities of field artillery offered the option of firing on lines and squares of infantry to inflict injury and break formations for the cavalry. The cavalry still depended on pistols and carbines for a first volley before charging, but the cavalry attack still depended on the lance and the sword for the main fighting.
This engaging book follows the development of weapons and tactics and their influence on the evolving forms of warfare. A very readable work that covers the politics and strategies, but also goes down into the fog and mud of war as fought by the common soldier.