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French Bayonets: A very rough draft


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This is the rough galley of my French Bayonets E-book.  Some art needs to be replaced and it needs to have its last five article entries added, then it needs its index and definitions filled out.  Afterword grammar and spelling will get run down.  

 

The target for this book is general readers (as opposed to collectors) so I avoid going into gross detail about serial numbers and minor manufacture changes, and instead try to connect the bayonet to the historical issues and trends of the time. 

 

Legal Junk: Note that all comments are in the nature of peer review and do not represent editorial work for hire - in other words comments are voluntary and do not represent co-authorship.  The document may not be redistributed and may only be downloaded from the Virdea site. Peer reviewers may retain their books as long as they wish.  Much of this material appeared in a scholarly article by me several years ago.  Substantive writing adopted by me will be given full credit to author and used with permission (this is for the rare person who wants to write 1000 words on some subject for inclusion, not just for someone who wants to point out that bayonets are often sharp.)

 

http://www.virdea.net/french/bayot.pdf

 

The code to open the PDF is sturgeon.  It is optimized for viewing on iPads but should work well on any computer.  Download is 8mb.  The document will be changed from time to time as it moves to final candidate status.

 

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PMed feedback. (was mostly grammar, can't proofread for feature completeness after all).

 

Overall a good coverage for people interested in the development trends and decision making process behind the weapons. It reminds me of a briefer, less in-depth one of Friedman's illustrated design history series in its approach to the subject, and I consider that high praise indeed.

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PMed feedback. (was mostly grammar, can't proofread for feature completeness after all).

 

Overall a good coverage for people interested in the development trends and decision making process behind the weapons. It reminds me of a briefer, less in-depth one of Friedman's illustrated design history series in its approach to the subject, and I consider that high praise indeed.

 

 

I appreciate it.  The grammar is very helpful as no matter how many times I make a pass at a book there will be one last grammar error.  Also some of the grammar you identified was the layout program crushing sentences - which I am glad to find out.

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I appreciate it.  The grammar is very helpful as no matter how many times I make a pass at a book there will be one last grammar error.  Also some of the grammar you identified was the layout program crushing sentences - which I am glad to find out.

 

Glad to be of help. And yeah, grammar is a factor of getting eyes on the thing as often as possible.

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Just another note: Studies of Napoleonic eras revealed that bayonets only caused about 2% of the casualties, and that bayonet charges were largely mythical in nature.

 

And when I say mythical I don't meant that entire battalions didn't charge with bayonets drawn - they certainly did. However, the charge was usually conducted when the defender was already wavering and the charge itself was just one massive bit of posturing to put them to flight. If the defender didn't run then the result was the attacker usually taking an entire volley at point-blank range resulting in the attacker getting routed instead.

 

In fact, Jomini - one of the big Napoleonic references of the period - claimed that he in fact never witnessed a battalion ending up in a melee with another battalion. One side or another always broke first. The bayonet injuries, when they do happen, tend to happen to men who are running and are caught by the pursuit charge; or they occur during smaller charges by skirmishers (usually of only a few dozen men) fighting each other for good positions. That the French had to study the Civil War to find out the dubious utility of bayonets when their own Grand Armee actually hardly relied on it goes to show how institutions can easily end up mythologizing its own past into unsound doctrines for the present.

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This is a great note Zinegata.

 

Institutional memory was lost at the end of the Napoleonic era for France because the July Massacre, when more than half the army was demobilized (and it was the better half, with Napoleon trained officers) and later the White Terrors literally gutted the pragmatic wartime military infrastructure.  Then they passed the military laws of 1818 and 1819 which returned the Army to its former size, but no officers from the old Army could be employed - so they ended up with a pretty half-witted military force.  Unlike Germany post WW1 there was not a backdrop of officers who could be called back - the monarchists were incompetent and the Napoleonic corps was tainted.  One only has to look at the list of dead or exiled officers to know what France lost -Ney, Brune, 12 of the 18 Marshalls of the Grande Armee.  If I am not mistaken Antoine-Henri Jomini himself went  to Russia or Sweden or something like that after the return of the Kingdom.

 

Britain and France both drank the bayonet cool-aid because they found the weapons useful in the empire.

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This is a great note Zinegata.

 

Institutional memory was lost at the end of the Napoleonic era for France because the July Massacre, when more than half the army was demobilized (and it was the better half, with Napoleon trained officers) and later the White Terrors literally gutted the pragmatic wartime military infrastructure.  Then they passed the military laws of 1818 and 1819 which returned the Army to its former size, but no officers from the old Army could be employed - so they ended up with a pretty half-witted military force.  Unlike Germany post WW1 there was not a backdrop of officers who could be called back - the monarchists were incompetent and the Napoleonic corps was tainted.  One only has to look at the list of dead or exiled officers to know what France lost -Ney, Brune, 12 of the 18 Marshalls of the Grande Armee.  If I am not mistaken Antoine-Henri Jomini himself went  to Russia or Sweden or something like that after the return of the Kingdom.

 

Britain and France both drank the bayonet cool-aid because they found the weapons useful in the empire.

 

Was the loss of officers to the Bourbon restoration really that severe? While Ney and other Marshals were killed others were spared and even held positions in the restored government - Davout, St Cyr, and Soult being the particular stand outs. There were a couple further revolutions after Napoleon's final defeat though so I'd think those would also account for why the French army ended up having amnesia - by 1870 French politics was such a mess that I think the French army had trouble remembering who exactly they were fighting for by this point.

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The loss of officers was pretty good - 23,000 experience wartime officers is a lot, added to 200,000 people on the bans list who could no longer work for  government.  The so called massacres had no one killed, they refer to the fact that the people replaced never came back like they were dead.

 

As you say it grew worse as Monarchists went to Republic went to Napoleonic lunatic.  France suffered not because it beheaded anyone, but because simply it kicked too many smart minds to the curb.  Even then France was a leading innovator - it just could not get its politics straightened out.

 

The period 1870 to 1900 was the French high point in terms of reversing this trend. 

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