Help support TMP


"Militia bayonets/quality?" Topic


16 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the American Revolution Message Board



Areas of Interest

18th Century

480 hits since 18 Jan 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 9:04 a.m. PST

I have been going through my sources on militia companies during the revolution and am not finding a lot of information regarding which states had militia companies armed with bayonets. I have found some references to bayonet armed militia but no hard information. Any help is really appreciated.

On the same note, it seems that some militia companies were of much better quality/training than others which makes me wonder did the various units performance vary from one engagement to the next or were there units which were more reliable? Again any help from period experts is appreciated.

I am thinking that those interested in this period would also find the information of value, so Thank You for any information/sources the group can provide.

Dave

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 11:27 a.m. PST

The militia were definitely of variable quality.
The Minutemen at Concord and on the road back to Boston had good leavening of FIW veterans. They ALMOST wiped out the British column.
Ditto Bunker Hill.

At Cowpens, Daniel Morgan gave the militia permission to do what they would have done anyway. "I want two shots. Then run back there to rally. Wait for orders." That is certainly more realistic than expecting them to stand there, and cursing and stomping on your hat as they ran away in panic.

The point is that some militia had some training. Some did not. If you give them a task that they were capable of, and told them what you expected, they could be useful.

But the main use of militia was not in the battle line, but policing areas and keeping the Loyalists in their place.

Bayonets. That was ad hoc. You may have the blacksmith make you one, but without proper training, all they were good for was spitting a rabbit over the fire.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 11:32 a.m. PST

It seems to me we have been over this ground before here on TMP

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 11:34 a.m. PST
historygamer Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 12:11 p.m. PST

I think the bottom line is that many militia companies were lucky if their members showed up with firearms, let alone bayonets. Guns were always in short supply and the army received first choice.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 12:28 p.m. PST

History- You know, of course, that such a statement is blasphemy in these here United States.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 12:35 p.m. PST


It seems to me we have been over this ground before here on TMP.

Yes. From 2014.
I for one have no problem going back to topics. How many times has someone asked about Loyalist flags, or flags for Grenadiers or Guards? I answer it every time I see it asked.
When I want to ask, a question, I ask. I don't go back into the uncertain mists of the archives.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 12:39 p.m. PST

History- You know, of course, that such a statement is blasphemy in these here United States.

To contradict myself, let's not drag up Bellesisles again. grin
Unless you really want to.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 12:45 p.m. PST

And historygamer is from Maryland so can realistically make such a statement.

Jim

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 1:33 p.m. PST

link

Interesting piece here

"It is very difficult to date early Colonial Period bayonets. They were made in small numbers by local blacksmiths, without benefit of gauges and other production tooling common to European manufacture. As a result, no two are alike.

Colonial Militias began forming in the 1730s. Because early militias focused primarily on defending settlements against Indian attack, the production and procurement of bayonets was spotty, at best. The more established militias, such as in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, are documented as having bayonets by the 1750s. However, by 1775, when the Revolutionary War began in earnest, only about half of Massachusetts Bay Colony muskets were equipped with bayonets."

Bill N18 Jan 2019 2:21 p.m. PST

You might have better luck in determining whether militia had bayonets if you narrowed the question to specific units in specific actions. As to how well trained the militia were in using them, well….

On the same note, it seems that some militia companies were of much better quality/training than others which makes me wonder did the various units performance vary from one engagement to the next or were there units which were more reliable?

Trained to do what? Not a rhetorical question. A large portion of the militia that took the field with Morgan at Cowpens were veterans of previous actions where many of them had performed well. They were trained to fight. Some were even of Continental quality, and some of those served in Morgan's Contiental line. Most were not trained to fight in that manner. If Morgan had used all his militia at Cowpens as Gates did at Camden the result might have been closer to what happened at Camden.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 3:30 p.m. PST

Agree with Bill N. We speak of "the" militia of the Revolution, but there was no such thing. Coastal New England and the Overmountain men of the Carolina interior might as well have been different countries as far as the experience and expectations of the militia went, and Pennsylvania, with its Quaker and Loyalist strongholds and high percentages of Scots-Irish and German immigrants, might itself have been several different countries.

I'd say the general rule is that the further west you go, the more the militia are Indian fighters--few bayonets, no close order drill to speak of and a higher percentage of rifles. Any cavalry is really mounted infantry, and any cannon are in forts. The big coastal cities--towns, really--run more toward imitation regulars, with close-order drill, smoothbores almost exclusively and sometimes with bayonets, tiny artillery and cavalry units and sometimes even uniforms. All were useful for keeping Loyalists quiet, guarding POWs and such, but if they got to a battlefield, a sensible general played to their strengths and didn't confuse the types.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 5:04 p.m. PST

Getting back to the original question regarding bayonets.
Having them and being trained in their use, like British and Hessians, are two different things. Particularly in wargaming terms.
Most militia would find a bayonet as useful in hand to hand combat as a canteen. And that is assuming that they would stand up to a bayonet charge in the first place, or initiate one, which they wouldn't.
Having a stiffening of 25% Continentals in the unit would mean that 25% MIGHT know how to use them.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 10:26 p.m. PST

"When I want to ask, a question, I ask. I don't go back into the uncertain mists of the archives."

I think historygamer was only providing the link to a related discussion. Trying to be helpful. The ability to search past topics is a great asset that everyone should take advantage of.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2019 10:33 p.m. PST

In the rules we use, riflemen and militia do not carry bayonets. In reality most militia didn't. I am sure there were some militia companies where some had them and some didn't. Few knew how to use them except for cooking meals.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2019 7:37 a.m. PST

Thanks for all those who responed. You have provided several interesting points to consider when dealing with militia during the Revolution.

Thanks again,

Dave

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.