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"TYW - Sieges and Assaults" Topic

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ScipioAlba Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member13 Jul 2017 6:03 a.m. PST

Can anyone tell me if it was common practice when defending a defenceworks/fort or actually assaulting a defenceworks for pikemen to be armed with half pikes, or just their swords? I cannot see a 17 foot pike being particularly handy during an assault.

Also were grenades used much during sieges?

Thanks in expectation.


corona66 Supporting Member of TMP14 Jul 2017 1:11 p.m. PST

Let me start by suggesting that you might want to purchase the Caliver Book "English Civil War Sieges….Rules and scenarios for playing them" it has a great deal of information on ECW sieges, although it doesn't specifically talk about pikes. My own uneducated opinion is that,since many pikemen did not have swords, they would use their full-sized pikes to reach across obstacles and fortifications to let the nimble muskets get through or over the obstacles to attack with musket butts. In fact there's a line drawing in the book that illustrates this very thing.
As for grenades,or grenadoes, they were indeed used in sieges and there's even some suggestion that they may have been used in some field battles.
If you're in North America you might try On Matters Military in New Jersey before trying Caliver.
And if you need more info feel free to get back to me.

Balin Shortstuff Inactive Member20 Jul 2017 7:04 p.m. PST

I would have answered earlier, but, you know, the embargo.

Grenades were used of course, anywhere from outright explosives to incendiaries. I don't know how much, the fuses for the explosives being "iffy" of course.

The only mention of anyone using grenades in field battle were the Poles, and it was implies they were a bit crazy.

And about pikes, there have been earlier discussions. TMP link

Daniel S22 Jul 2017 2:33 p.m. PST

Pikes saw plenty of use during assaults as they were seen as the chief means of holding or carrying a breach as long as the terrain permitted the pikemen access. Pikemen would also be used to assault thorugh gates blown by petards or when forcing the gate open by other means. Monro describes an assault by the Scots pikemen during the assault on Frankfurth an Oder in 1631 which he himself was part of while mentioning both the offensive and defensive use of pikes elsewhere by the Yellow and Blue regiments as well as by the Irish defenders.

As a rule armies did not have acess to stores of shorter polearms unless they were in close proximity to an armoury stocked with such items and then the typical polearm would be a halberd rather than a half-pike. (Halberds were common in city armouries together with other forms of more improvised polearms but they were meant for local defence rather than the use of by field forces.)

Handgrenades and hand thrown incendiaries were a well established part of siege warfare but it is hard to say if they saw "much" use due the grenades being used both as hand thrown weapons and as a sort of "sub-munition" deployed by mortar or catapult. Handgrenades were made from clay, iron, lead or copper and fitted with diffrent forms of fuses.
Pappenheim & Wallenstein seems to have judged a field army well supplied if it had 500 or 1000 handgrenades in store to judged by surviving documents. The Swedes meanwhile manufactured copper handgrenades on a large scale (orders from 1400 to 5700) but the larger orders were for both the army and navy. Actual numbers for the field armies are harder to find, in 1628 Gustavus only had 300 handgrenades in his artillery train but in 1630 he brought almost 1800 with him as part of the artillery train for the army that invaded Germany.

ScipioAlba Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member25 Jul 2017 1:04 p.m. PST

Gents your information and suggestions are most appreciated.

Thank you all

Kadrinazi25 Jul 2017 4:25 p.m. PST

@Balin Shortstuff – you mentioned Poles using grenades in field battle. Which one?

Balin Shortstuff Inactive Member26 Jul 2017 8:20 p.m. PST

@Kadrinazi The book I got it from was about 16th-17th century fortifications and not battles, so I don't remember any specific battle mentioned. I'll try to track it down and see if there was a footnote associated with the comment.

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