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Ron

Battle deaths caused by bayonets.

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Union army surgeons complied a vast amount of information concerning battle casualties and deaths during the civil war.  They have estimated that only one percent of union killed were caused by bayonets and swords.  This shows that bayonets were greatly over-rated in actual results.  They also estimate that 94 to 95 percent of battle deaths were from firearms, mostly muskets and rifles. 

Speaking of overestimated, the above estimates shown only four to five percent of battle deaths were from artillery fire.

Ron 

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Hello Ron.  As for your question about bayonet deaths, most soldiers during the CW felt that bayonetting was a most gruesome way of killing an enemy.  If you have ever seen a CW period bayonet I'm sure you would agree.  Soldiers felt that it was an extremely long and painful way to die.  I have read accounts where soldiers said they would rather bash in an enemies head with the butt of their musket than to stick them with a bayonet.  Also, with this style bayonet, it is very difficult to remove the bayonet from the body after you have stabbed the person.  As for the sabers, most were carried by officers who used them against their own troops.  To keep the stragglers moving forward.  Most sabers were not sharp like a knife.  It was used as a crushing instrument.  Strike an enemies arm or shoulder and you have incapacitated and possibly captured that individual.  Strike and enemies head and you have crushed their skull, again preferred over stabbing that person.

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Guest C.D.RICKMAN

Yes but they made excellent tent stakes, and with a little heat and bending a handy dandy pot hook. I find it very interesting that if you were in the union army you had a one in eighteen chance of being killed in battle, a one in eight chance of illiness.

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Just now read this post. Another use that local people made of bayonets was fire pokers. If you've never had a fireplace, you probably don't know the importance of the poker. My daddy said that it was common for the local people to take bayonets (apparently they were pretty common) and bend a hook on the sharp end. This made a good fire poker. I even found one once on family property.

Grandpa

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I came across an account by a soldier at Shiloh-- on the 2nd day-- while fighting over a Rebel Battery-- there were several charge and counter-chargers to retake the Battery. He states that Bowie knives were used with impunity. Now that is hand to hand!! I am sure bayonets were used to!!  Tom

 

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