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Charge a la Bayonnette

Excerpts from "Technology in the Civil War: COLD STEEL!" by Sid Sidlo
Toward the end of the 18th century the sword bayonet was replaced by the angular socket, or ring, bayonet, with a sleeve that fit around the barrel and was held in place with a slot and stud. Also called a "spike" bayonet, it was about 14" to 18" long, round or triangular in shape, lighter in weight than a sword bayonet, and did not interfere with firing. Full-length arms, as the Springfield rifle, were equipped with the socket bayonet, which was standard equipment for both sides during the war.

As terrible as bayonets may seem, few in the Civil War ever died from bayonet wounds received in combat. Gen. John Gordon wrote: "The bristling points and the glitter of bayonets were fearful to look upon as they were leveled in front of a charging line, but they were rarely reddened with blood."

To be effective, the bayonet had to be aimed to reach a vital spot, deep in the body or protected by bone (they were also hard to pull out). While bayonet wounds were frightening and painful, they were generally not as devastating as bullet wounds. The accompanying excerpt from the report of a Confederate surgeon describes the differences.

During the ten months of Grant's overland campaign, from the Wilderness to Sayler's Creek, only some fifty bayonet wounds were treated surgically at Union army hospitals. In his Regimental Losses, Fox claims that of 250,000 Union wounded treated in hospitals, only 922 (.4 of 1%) were victims of cavalry sabers or bayonets. Most Civil War soldiers recognized the practical ineffectiveness of the bayonet. In hand-to-hand combat they preferred to use knives or wield their muskets as clubs. For most of the war, both Yanks and Rebs chose to use their bayonets as entrenching tools, tent pegs, candle holders, or roasting spits.                                                                                                                          

Source: Technology in the Civil War: COLD STEEL!" by Sid Sidlo
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Record Details

Title: Charge a la bayonette: Title Page


To Asst. Surgeon, H. Hedge Mitchell, 39th Regt. Mass. Vols. ...Grand military quickstep. Introducing celebrated Zouave song  "Footballs".

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