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"British Officers with fusils" Topic


10 Posts

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332 hits since 10 Nov 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Bill N10 Nov 2017 4:13 p.m. PST

While I've read that officers started carrying fusils early in the war, I haven't seen anything on how they used them. Did they still carry swords as well? Were they usually used with fixed bayonets? Did they load and fire along with the ranks? Did they use the fusils like spontoons?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 6:27 p.m. PST

The fusil replaced the espontoon -- not the sword. Here is an interesting article:

link

As you can see, not all senior commanders liked officers carrying a fusil because it could distract them from their mission of commanding their troops. I have read that Gen. Washington did his best to prohibit his officers from carrying fusils for that reason.

historygamer10 Nov 2017 7:33 p.m. PST

I think they were carried mainly for personal self defense. The practice in North American started during the F&I War. A lot of British officers were issued captured fusils after the capture of Louisbourg.

I'm not sure what you mean about using them like espontoons (aka: spontoons). Sergeants used their halberds to keep the men up or straighten the ranks. That was not an officer's job.

Eric Schnitzer, park historian at Saratoga battlefield, remarked to me that indeed the period was divided on whether they should carry a musket or a spontoon – but they made a clear decision by the Napoleonic period to discard them.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 11:06 p.m. PST

Perry makes German officers carrying a musket.

picture


picture

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Here's the British

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Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 11:18 p.m. PST

I have a German and a British officer carrying a musket at the trail. I can't find them on the website but they are two of the best figures in my collection.

Supercilius Maximus In the TMP Dawghouse11 Nov 2017 1:45 a.m. PST

During the battle of Long Island, the Hessian colonel von Donop shot and killed a rifleman who was in the process of aiming at him.

Washington ordered that company commanders and above should carry spontoons; subalterns were still allowed to carry fusees if they wished.

British sergeants were re-armed with muskets (or in some cases the shorter artillery carbine) before the war even started.

Virginia Tory11 Nov 2017 10:46 a.m. PST

Which is good because I find carrying a spontoon tiresome.

Bill N11 Nov 2017 3:25 p.m. PST

The and for the replies. @79 that link gives me enough to work with.

42flanker11 Nov 2017 11:25 p.m. PST

The other element of self defence was that, as well as wearing plainer frocks cut down from uniform coats and stripped of officers' lace, by carryig a fusil the officers gave themselves a profile in the field that presented less of a target for enemy marksmen. Not entirely of course, since together with sergeants their actions among the troops would indicate who was a leader.

British officers in WW1 also started to carry a rifle for the same reason, although wearing an OR khaki tunic was thought bad form.

historygamer13 Nov 2017 12:40 p.m. PST

Same with US army officers in WWII. They removed the insignia off the front of their helmets and collars and quite carrying the M-1 carbine as it all made them stand out.

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