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'Fixed Bayonets.' and 'The Swordsman.' by A.Hutton.
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While looking for information dealing with close-quarter fighting using the fixed bayonet and sword. I found these titles in my military book catalogue.

Although the 'Fixed Bayonets' book deals with the Lee-Enfield fitted with a bladed bayonet, it does show and describe defence/offence movements that can be made with the weapon, including the use of the butt of the rifle. On checking for more details about the book, I found that it was possible to view 37 pages of the contents (not all I don't think), which illustrate some of these movements and give descriptions. It appears to be when confronted with an enemy similarly armed.

'The Swordsman.' is interesting as it is termed ' A Manual of Fence and Defence Against An Uncivilised Enemy.'

Can anyone tell me what it means by this, whether it means fighting an untrained swordsman, or other...?

Thankyou

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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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If the manual was published "in former times" I would imagine that the author refers to those ghastly, non-European heathens - such as the "enemy" we "civilised" chaps found ourselves fighting in 1879.

To be fair to the author, the term "civilised" did have a specific literal definition and "uncivilised" didn't necessarily carry quite the pejorative connotation it might appear to do.

Peter
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Thanks Peter

'Fixed Bayonets.' was written in 1890, and although meant as a manual of fence against an enemy armed with the same weapon, the techniques may have also been used against an enemy armed with other types of weaponry, like an assegai and shield as in 1879.

'The Swordsman.' was written in 1898, and the fact that it states 'against an uncivilised enemy', makes me wonder if it indeed meant against an enemy such as the Zulus, rather than other swordsmen.

I'm not sure what sword(s) are covered in this second book, but I've been curious to know if during the AZW, sword-armed officers, or dismounted lancers/cavalry could have learned techniques on how to use the sword best against such an enemy, who would have been armed with very different weapons.

This is the first title I've seen, which does appear to cover this area.

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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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I doubt that at the outset of the invasion in 1879 any British officer thought he may actually have to draw his own sword. Although by the time the Lancers and KDG arrived they were fully appraised of the Zulus' fighting attributes, it seems unlikely they contemplated having to face him unmounted, with neither lance nor horse, other than, perhaps, if surprised at night. In the event, a few individual unhorsed scraps did occur.

The publication date of 1898 may reflect the recent activity on the NWF (1895, 1897, 1898) and was probably too late in its advice for Omdurman, which I think was in September that year but the author may have had in mind the two-handed swordsmen encountered there in the 1880s?

Peter
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Peter

Yes. I think the British were pretty sure the volley-firing from the Martini Henry may have held the enemy at bay, without having to consider using their swords if the enemy closed with them.

I'm not sure how many sword fighting technique books were available around the latter half of the 19th Century, military-related rather than the popular fencing community.

Although I don't know many of the campaigns the British fought in this part of the 19th Century, I do feel we fought enough 'uncivilised' type enemies, armed with spears, sabres, etc., to realise close-quarter fighting was quite possible, especially after previous battles like Isandlwana and Maiwand.

As such, trying to find hand-to-hand fighting technique books containing information which 'may' have been used on the battlefields of 1879, but not in written form, more likely instead to be previous experience passed on by veteran soldiers who 'knew best' how to fight such an enemy.

I do feel that there were aspects of training involved with the sword, quite possibly the unfixed bayonet, etc., if such events arose.

Therefore, I have to 'jump' ahead a few years until such books started to arise, while the written knowledge of such combat was in its early stages.

There are many modern books covering these areas, but I feel they are too advanced.

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Michael Boyle


Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 595
Location: Bucks County,PA,US
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Can't help with those books this time but I have come across some interesting things on the net. (For instance, the last British bayonet charge was during the Falklands War and that may turn out to be the last bayonet charge in history, given modern arms and tactics.) There is another book you may find helpful - "A Complete Bibliography of Fencing & Duelling: As Practiced by All European Nations from the Middle Ages to the Present Day" by Carl A. Thimm. It includes references to bayonet drill too and is currently in reprint for about 20 pounds. As well there is also the 'Bible' of bayonet drill - "A Complete System of Bayonet Exercise" by Captain Sir Richard F. Burton, reprints of which tend toward the pricey side.

I also came across these:

http://thearmouryonline.co.uk/BayonetHistory.htm
"Practice Bayonets - Occasionally you may come across a bayonet which has a dull blade and a ball, disk or rough blob of metal in place of the sharp tip. This will almost certainly be a practice bayonet used to train soldiers in the art of bayonet fencing whilst reducing injuries. In some cases, rather than a dedicated practice bayonet, old stocks of bayonets were blunted and had the tips rounded off for use in bayonet drill or fencing practice." Which seems to answer a question you posted a while ago dealing with the use of the bayonet as a hand held weapon, also supported by - http://ejmas.com/jmanly/articles/2001/jmanlyart_wolf2_0801.htm - which includes an illustration of a Lancer vs. Bayonet Fencer during a Victorian tournament. (Fascinating web page dealing with public tournaments and "Combative Exhibitions".)

http://ejmas.com/jnc/jncart_soldes_0602.htm which deals with the Physical and Bayonet Training School at Aldershot, established in the 1860s, but this dealing with the Great War. It seems that bayonet training was handled much the same as musketry training by sending officers and non-coms to learn the trade and return to their units to train the men.

http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=bayonet "The British developed drills and techniques for using bayonets, partly based on the highland charge. They would advance towards the enemy quickly, and fire from a number of meters away. This would create a big cloud of smoke, as well as killing enemy soldiers. The British infantry would then charge out of the cloud of smoke, towards the enemy. This was designed to be particularly frightening, and was used to great effect in the Napoleonic wars, and in maintaining British colonies abroad."

For the 'real deal' there's -

http://hicketypip.tripod.com/Rifledrill/bayonet.htm#Bayonet%20Exercise%20-%20Preliminary%20Drill

An interesting page showing a period bayonet drill in both text and animated GIFs.

Best

Michael
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Michael Boyle


Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 595
Location: Bucks County,PA,US
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If interested here's a complete copy of Alfred Hutton's "Old Sword Play" on line -

http://www.thearma.org/pdf/OldSwordPlay.pdf

and his "Cold Steel, A Practical Treatise On The Sabre"" - http://www.thearma.org/pdf/ColdSteel.pdf

As well as Henry Angelo's "Hungarian & Highland Broad Sword" -
http://www.thearma.org/pdf/HungarianHighlandBroadsword.pdf

Here's a quote from http://www.ahfi.org/about/ -

"The second half of the 19th Century is historically the classical period, in which the art of fencing reached its highest development, but we may include the whole of the 19th century in this era, as this was the age when fencing was formally codified, systematized, and fully expressed in complete systems and styles. "Classical," in this sense, means "the golden age," the period when the art saw its highest peak. Clear distinctions between the French and Italian schools can be seen in this era, and national "academies" were established. A "super-national" approach established commonality in fencing language, as well as codes and rules for dueling. It is also within the classical period that the great rivalries between both schools were constantly put to the test through professional bouts and, in some cases, duels between masters of each school.

The use of the sword as a sidearm, for personal self-defense, was no longer a concern of fencers during this era. Rather, they focused on training in fencing for its own sake as an art form and personal accomplishment, in addition [to] its use in personal combat. This age is distinguished by the art of the foil, which masters thought to be the fencing "weapon" par excellence. With this refined tool, the most sophisticated and artistic maneuvers are possible. However, the use of the sword as a killing weapon was always borne in mind, and the training was serious in nature."

Here's the full text of the 1869 Navy and Marine Corps cutlass manual -
http://www.navyandmarine.org/cutlassmanual/1869cutlass.pdf

This is an interesting bit from - http://www.swordhistory.com/excerpts/corbesier.html (It also contains references to other late 19th century sword manuals.)

"Take Matthew J. O'Rourke, who published his A New System of Sword Exercise in 1873. Like generations of publishing fencing masters before, he had lined up the endorsements of military heavies to provide the necessary depth and credibility.

One of his sponsors is Brevet Brigadier-General [sic] George Armstrong Custer, who writes:
I most heartily commend him to the favorable consideration of the War Department, sincerely hoping that some action may be had by which this system of Sword Exercise may be introduced into the permanent organization of the army.

But Custer's written stand for training recruits in the use of the sidearm is misleading. On June 25, 1876, when he and his men met their doom at Little Big Horn at the hands of Sitting Bullís [sic] braves, none of them even carried a saber. The age of the sword as a useful weapon for military combat had long passed. Which didn't keep U.S. army authorities from commissioning saber manuals until the outbreak of World War I."

At any rate I haven't found anything on the specifics of actual sword training for officers in the British Army but the literature was certainly available.

[Can you tell that fencing and sword collecting are among my hobbies?]

MAB
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Michael

Many thanks. The sites are great, especially the fixed bayonet animation and Alfred Hutton's 'Cold Steel'. They will be most helpful.

I'd never have guessed swords and fencing were an interest of yours !

However, I'm glad they are, as your assistance is much appreciated.

Thanks again

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Further to the above.

Regarding edged weapons, here's the one I've liked since seeing the Alamo and being aware of Jim Bowie.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowie_knife#James_Black.27s_Bowie_Knife

Nice picture, although it doesn't appear to have the 13.5" blade that I remember from a while back as being a James Black model.

Still, great image don't you think ?

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'Fixed Bayonets.' and 'The Swordsman.' by A.Hutton.
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