Bayonet fencing

Here is a video of bayonet drill in accordance with the manual of arms used with the Brown Bess land pattern musket.

Granted, these are long enough to fend off cavalry. And for good reason, at that time you needed to be able to form a square and point the things outward to prevent a group of horsemen flanking you.

Imperial Guard have always loved their bayonets too though… Imagine the possibilities if Q just shifted your grip.

At one time this was considered a major sport in the world’s militaries. There’s a bunch of stories about marines at various embassies in Shanghai having matches with the things.

1 Like

A bit of a nitpick, but bayonet fencing as a term is of more of an art rather than a practical form of combat, mainly because it breaks down as soon as your opponent is armed with a longer bayonet, or something not a bayonet (and it also has the effect of breaking the momentum of a charge). The Moebian Sixth certainly don’t give you that luxury all the time - lasgun-armed Scabs might have bayonets, but the autogun-armed Scabs draw a mace or sword in CQB, similar to those used by the dedicated melee Scabs.

That said, the idea is sound. Press weapon special, shift your bayonet-equipped las or autogun into melee mode, gain the ability to light attack, heavy attack, block, push, etc. Hit weapon special again to shift back into ranged mode.

That’s a bit of a pipe dream, but a man can have hope.


That’s not technically true, and George Silver would like to have a word with you over favoring the longer weapon, something he wrong two books on the folly of in 1599.

He writes thus:
Of the length of weapons, and how every man may fit himself to the perfect length of his weapon, according to his own stature, with brief reasons wherefore they ought to be so. To know the perfect length of your sword, you shall stand with your sword and dagger drawn, as you see this picture,

keeping out straight your dagger arm, drawing back your sword as far as conveniently you can, not opening the elbow joint of your sword arm, and look what you can draw within your dagger, that is the just length of your sword, to be made strong textaccording to your own stature.

(Insert, hold the hilt in your armpit and be able to do a thumbs up with the other hand in front of the sword.)

Basically, you wanted a sword (or staff, I don’t want to paste a whole book) that fit you, not one that was longer, and the reason was this:

(Insert, by ‘short sword’ he means a basket hilt, not a gladius. Short as in ‘not a longsword.’)

Make this for a general rule, all long staves, Morris pikes, Forest bills, Javelins, or such like long weapons, of what sort so ever, being above the true lengths, the shortest has the advantage, because they can cross and uncross in shorter time than can the longer.

And all manner of short weapons to be used with both hands, as staves, and such like, being under the perfect lengths, the longest have the advantage, and all manner of weapons to be used with one hand, that are above the perfect length of the single sword, the shortest has the vantage, and all manner of weapons under the just length of the short sword, as falchions, skaines, or hangers, woodknives, daggers, and such like short weapons of imperfect lengths, the longest has the advantage, because the fight of these weapons consist within the half or quarter sword, wherein by the swift motions of their hands, their eyes are deceived, and in those weapons, commonly for their hands lie no defence.

And if two shall fight with staves or swords, or what weapons soever, the one of them having his weapon longer than the perfect length, and the other shorter than the perfect length, he that has the longer has the vantage, because the shorter can make no true cross in true time. The short staff or half pike, Forest bill, Partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of perfect length, to be used with both hands, have the advantage against two swords and daggers, or two rapiers, poniards and gauntlets, and against all other weapons whatsoever, the Forest bill excepted.

As to the subject of bayonet fencing, it was at one time a big thing.

Like, this is a video where a follow who is quite big in the historic martial arts community demonstrates a bayonet trainer from around ww1.

Thing has a spring loaded plunger tip so you don’t hurt people when you thrust.

Now, I was trying to get some other data, but I didn’t quite manage it. But I did find a PDF of Hutton’s book on the use of the bayonet, considered a quite important text and was requested of him after his book on the sword was very successful.

Nonetheless, I am most happy at the comment “The idea is sound.” Nonetheless, I did feel the need to show just how extensive a subject bayonet fencing once was.

You should keep in mind that manual was written with dueling in mind, not battlefield conditions where you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with an entire company at minimum. The longer the weapon, the more you could present to the enemy at once, making approaching with shorter weapons increasingly more difficult. There’s a reason pikes were dominant from late medieval military history through to the introduction of the socket bayonet.

As a criticism of Silver’s writings in the snippet you posted, he bends over backwards to list out some very impractical weapons combinations that would have been known as highly impractical even then, like two swords, two rapiers, or two daggers. He’s not setting a particularly high bar for his favored weapons.

Back to bayonet fencing, it’s purpose in history was more for drilling discipline and instilling aggressiveness into the troops, especially after cavalry fell out of common use. The British army considered teaching Hutton’s more advanced bayonet techniques, but was dropped since it was thought the men, “might stop and engage man-to-man with the enemy, instead of running them down with sheer aggression”, as seen here on British Muzzleloaders. He also states here the real point of a bayonet was to gain confidence (further improved through drill) and intimidate the enemy. The idea was to run down the enemy, project fear, and don’t give them the chance to fight back - in that regard, bayonet fencing gives up all those advantages of the charge. Hence why I consider bayonet fencing to be more of an art than a practical form of combat on the battlefield.

1 Like

Eh, Dual wield wasn’t as unusual as we think it was, or as common as Hollywood thinks it was. I read the autobiography of Donald McBain, who was a Scottish master of the smallsword, (though we might call what he favored a spadroon,) who served in the army of Duke Marlboro, (the original Marlboro man) and was his champion for a time.

He eventually became an expert swordsman, (for this training he would pay other soldiers who knew, then started developing on his own)

The duke made him a Grenadier, and he took part in a number of battles in the war of the Spanish succession. He also fought a number of duels for control of prostitution in the army. These went something like “I see you have whores. Send three to work for me or I’ll run you through, a lot, and we can have a go with the practice swords first to prove I can do it.”

I list all that to give you an idea of the man, to support for what follows. After he came home, he became a stage gladiator, which was a thing back then, and reports to his surprise the weapons were sharp, and duel wield was quite common with that very specific set. His book, " he Expert Sword-Man’s Companion (1728)" is really excellent even if you stick only to the bit about his life. (The part where the grenade blows him off the wall of a fortress is something else.)

Now, as Silver actually rented a stage to challenge people on, I wouldn’t be that surprised to find out that it was common in his time as well.

As to the pike, if Silver were alive today he’d tell you on no uncertain terms that pikes were for untrained louts and foreigners and other rabble, and a good servant of the crown would meet the enemy properly, with a billhook. (Okay, technically he might admit they were good in formation, but terrible out of it. That said, the two ways to fight a pike formation are with another, or to enter it with shorter weapons, where you can move and they can’t.)

Silver does make specific mention of different types of fights, and says in general battles, which he calls ‘in the press’ due to the press of bodies all around, you really could only do up and down or forward and back, and anything much more complex was

Now, as to your comment on Hutton, I believe you. What I do not believe is a complete absence of bayonet training, especially during the periods it was most in use. There are far too many accounts of the British seeing someone off at the point of a bayonet to imagine there was no technique at all.

What I would however say, is that it was most likely very basic. But then, most fights are won with basic techniques executed at a high level of skill. Teach them 5-8 moves, make them drill those constantly, and when the time comes they will do that. For our sake, those 5-8 moves could be light attack… heavy attack… block… and special. (and one left over.) :smiling_imp:

Indeed, your video states “The exercise was made up, for instructional purposes, of a number of core moves and positions.” This is absolutely correct, yet somehow fails to capture the idea that every martial arts system in the world is composed almost entirely of "A number of core moves and positions,’ with a little bit of tactical thought how they should be employed. German knightly martial arts have the core positions of Vomtag, Ochs, Pflug, and Alber, and those systems were most certainly used to great effect in the many wars of the Holy Roman Empire and in duels.

So, while the tone of the man speaking seems to suggest he thinks it merely for exercise, what he’s actually describing is a complete martial art.

Now, it is true you didn’t need as long a weapon after cavalry went out. You are quite right to point that out, and indeed, the 1930s were really a very exciting time.

Similarly, I did at one time have references to complaints by the common sailors of the navy that cutlass drill was “Too infrequent” as the sailors themselves recognized the benefit they got from it.

Ah! He’s got an image of the use of the spring-loaded bayonet trainer being used to train vs cavalry!

I did post the video about that above didn’t it?

Awesome find.

Additionally, I’d like to address your last point.

The idea was to run down the enemy, project fear, and don’t give them the chance to fight back - in that regard, bayonet fencing gives up all those advantages of the charge.

In this, I must take specific issue. In point of fact, the exact opposite is true. Bayonet fencing is what makes the charge possible.

I believe it was Publius Vegetius who said of military training (though he said he was condensing other lost books) that a man in combat is afraid because he does not know what to do, so the legions teach him to fight, drill him until it is second nature, and then when he knows what to do, he is no longer afraid, he simply does it.

Without bayonet fencing, men ordered to charge would be terrified of their arrival because they would not know what to do. With that training, when they arrive they will immediately attack…because they know how.

I didn’t make the claim that bayonet training was absent - in fact, I make a few references the bayonet drill’s effects, especially considering the two videos I linked are, in fact, about bayonet drill that was undertaken by virtually every soldier. What I do claim though, is that the drill was there to instill discipline and obedience into the troops, and give them the confidence needed to carry out a successful charge. Speaking of:

I agree! However, the knowledge of what to do, and actually needing to do it, are two different things. Charges only rarely ended with the bayonet drawing blood, rarer yet having to duel one on one with the enemy - that much is evident throughout history. It’s lack of common use on the battlefield means it had evolved into something more similar to an art than a practical form of combat, even from early on.

rarer yet having to duel one on one with the enemy.

You might be thinking of fencing as a fancy formal duel with a lot of back and forth. In truth, the word ‘fencing’ coming from defense, which was the polite way to say fighting. If you run up on a man, slam your musket into his, pushing it aside and thrust immediately into the chest, what you have done counts as fencing, and as a one on one moment, even if it is a part of something larger.

One movement, one crossing, and immediately over, but still “fencing.”

Charges only rarely ended with the bayonet drawing blood, rarer yet having to duel one on one with the enemy - that much is evident throughout history.

This is subject to some dispute. In the first part, there is the question of time period. In the age of Brown Bess, the use of the bayonet was much more important then in WW2. Yet, there was a fair enough close range hand to hand and point blank gunfights with bolt actions that it lead to the invention of the submachine gun so no one would ever have to do it again.

Additionally, the bayonet was at it’s core a spear, and not at all the only melee weapon to be expected. Flag guard would have halberds, (though by this time they were scaled down to large spears.) Officers and cavalry swords and even…

At this moment, I sit five feet from a wall on which I have hung two of the last lances professionally made for horse cavalry. They were made in 1890 in Solingen for German Uhlans and have hollow steel shafts wrapped with rope at the grip, and mounting for pennants. They may have been the last batch of lances made in the world. They actually didn’t cost overmuch, but the shipping was a nightmare.

In the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, the Scots default tactic was to charge, drop flat as soon as the muskets leveled, leap up and charge the remainder. There they would catch the bayonet on the shield, draw it aside, and split the man’s head clean down the middle… Until someone modernized the bayonet drill for that exact problem…

At Waterloo, it was the bayonets that prevented the French Cavalry with sword in hand from closing.

And… how often the bayonet actually made contact is not something that was well documented. There were occasions where it was the savior of the army, and others where it was merely a necessary part of kit to prevent an action by the enemy.

There were also a fair amount of the use of the bayonet to repel charges, such as in wars in India or Africa where the other side mostly had spears and would attack in massive numbers.

And lastly, humans are not anywhere close to as good at keeping reliable statistics as we like to pretend we are. One of the great criticisms of the ‘the bayonet was rarely used’ claim is that the statistic that lead to this impression are most often not taken from a count of the dead but by the medical personnel who recorded the types of wounds treated, and they treated more bullet wounds then they did men with a bayonet through the chest. As to why that might be, well, I’m too long winded for my own good and I’m impressed you stuck around this long.

1 Like

Mm, fair enough.

Against cavalry, the use of the bayonet is another kettle of fish. Nothing against that - it’s basically what the bayonet was designed for.

Ah, but it’s not survivorship bias. It’s well-recorded that the implications of the charge could cause one side or the other to break and rout before contact could be made - the intent of the charge was to gain ground, not cause casualties. The bayonet could win without spilling a drop of blood.

It’s fairly rare to find someone who can give a well-reasoned argument in a respectful manner. I’m also far too interested in military history for my own good. I’ve learned a few things here too!


It’s fairly rare to find someone who can give a well-reasoned argument in a respectful manner. I’m also far too interested in military history for my own good. I’ve learned a few things here too!


Ah, but it’s not survivorship bias. It’s well-recorded that the implications of the charge could cause one side or the other to break and rout before contact could be made - the intent of the charge was to gain ground, not cause casualties. The bayonet could win without spilling a drop of blood.

The bayonet was considered at the time a vital weapon. it was ‘what you do when you get close, were out of ammunition, or didn’t have time to load.’

So the question of 'how often?" isn’t even the right question. The right question is 'what were the times it did happen?" and how vital the bayonet was when you got there. That’s why things like that spring-loaded trainer were designed. It’s a really very advanced trainer, and reflects a significant investment in the tools of training with the bayonet.

And the medical people weren’t trying to keep statistics of the kind we’d like, nor have people ever been as good as we pretend at recording information. We aren’t even that good at it today. And the whole idea of keeping all this information and looking for patterns is itself fairly modern. We get a lot out of it, but we’ll get more as we get better at recording more data.

Against cavalry, the use of the bayonet is another kettle of fish. Nothing against that - it’s basically what the bayonet was designed for.

It was effective at that, and was an absolutely vital piece of equipment because of the fact that might happen. ‘Designed for’ is too far though. No one wanted to start a fight without a blade or a spike. The bayonet let you have a musket and a spear for little additional weight, and spears are magnificent weapons.

And, this is important. In understanding people of the past, we often see them as part of a specific time (which is true) but really, we should see them not as a product only of their time, but as a product of the time immediately before that. No one was ever as backwards or as forwards thinking as they looked from a distance. So, while we might look back and see what was happening, they were preparing not only for what did happen, and also for what would have happened in the previous war, as the enemy would most certainly know the older tricks even if you hope to win with the new ones.

So you had to be able to deal with CQB, for which spears are good, with the correct tools, and the spear was the best tool until the repeating firearm. Even then, they were still pretty good until Brigadier-general John T. Thompson decided he’d had more then enough of this crap and slapped together a no-man’s land saxophone with a 100 round drum of .45acp, a pair of pistol grips and an open bolt, and brought in the jazz era with a rata-tat–tat.

Heck, the last US Army horse Cavalrymen have been in the ground less then 20 years. I still have an old family keepsake, a US army 1911 manual which include how to shoot from a horse without taking it’s ears off, though I’m not sure where I put it. Here’s an image from online. (same book)

Now, on the subject of getting the enemy to break. Causing the enemy to break, for most of history, resulted in a slaughter. The late ideal, of waging war on ‘civilized terms,’ is itself a ideal, and men often fall short of the ideals they themselves hold.

Indeed, some of the more famous bayonet actions are from the receiving end of a charge. If troops were disciplined enough (and knew the slaughter that resulted from flight) they would stand their ground, and there would be nothing possible but to fight it out.

I will turn in this to Vegatus again, who states he is quoting Scipio Africanus, (named Africanus for having defeated Hannibal and securing Africa for Rome.) Most Roman texts on military arts are lost, but this one survived as a digest of all the previous ones.


Generals unskilled in war think a victory incomplete unless the enemy are so straightened in their g round or so entirely surrounded by numbers as to have no possibility of escape. But in such situation, where no hopes remain, fear itself will arm an enemy and despair inspires courage. When men find they must inevitably perish, they willingly resolve to die with their comrades and with their arms in their hands. The maxim of Scipio, that a golden bridge should be made for a flying enemy, has much been commended. For when they have free room to escape they think of nothing but how to save themselves by flight, and the confusion becoming general, great numbers are cut to pieces. The pursuers can be in no danger when the vanquished have thrown away their arms for greater haste. In this case the greater the number of the flying army, the greater the slaughter. Numbers are of no signification where troops once thrown into consternation are equally terrified at the sight of the enemy as at their weapons. But on the contrary, men when shut up, although weak and few in number, become a match for the enemy from this very reflection, that they have no resource but in despair.

And, even if the Infantry couldn’t catch the runners, the Cavalry certainly could, and would.

McBain (above,) begins his autobiography with an account of a fight where he was on the receiving end of an effective charge, in his first battle.

Here, McBain describes defeat, having his plug bayonet cut or knocked from his gun, giving the other fellow a buttstroke, and then taking to this heels before he ended up dead too. That said, if he’d failed to club the man in his face, he’d have died on the spot.

The Expert Swordsman’s companion is really an excellent book, even if you skip the directions on defense, just to read McBain’s accounts of his up and downs, and he doesn’t fail to tell of his defeats.

Anyway, the whole point of all that above, is this. The bayonet was considered a serious weapon until fairly recently, and was expected to be used to a limited degree even if it’s frequency was steadily declining.

You couldn’t make the transition from spear to musket if you gave up the spear because the spears would win before you got enough shots off.

And… of course, as we all know, after the God Emperor of Mankind arises, we’ll despretely need bayonets again… so we’d better hold on to Hutton’s work and be ready to deal with the Xenos.

(p.s. Silver turned out right about the basket hilt over the rapier when the English civil war came around.)

A general discussion about bayonets has almost nothing to do with Darktide. Realism is clearly not applicable to any weapon used in this Darktide and I doubt we will find much of anything comparable.

Still, from a gameplay and stylistic perspective (since realism is pretty much irrelevant regarding weapons in 40k), I do think that a lot of ranged weapons should have an alternate mode that allows for immediate basic melee usage. There are so many times where you just need to quickly dispatch a few trash enemies closeby right before going back to shooting.

Unlike Vermintide 2, Darktide has a bigger emphasis on ranged combat and seems like the Veteran career specifically could benefit from a way to quickly enter and exit melee combat that could come from being able to use a rifle in regular melee combat. It doesn’t have to be a perfect substitute for melee, but I think rifles should be able to function as a melee weapon in a pinch, with or without bayonets.


Is this post a joke? why? why would the devs put that much effort into something so not necessary, just because you want it? just because it’s something you are interested in? Why is it that gamers never understand just how staggeringly complicated game design is? You people ask for junk like this as if all it takes is to press the “add fencing” button in the game editor. Completely ignoring the literally mind blowing amount of effort it takes to add or change anything. Like the amount of time, money, blood sweat and tears it take, the prototyping, bug fixing, the testing, the balancing, bug fixing, the modeling, the animating, the bug fixing, and the bug fixing. Just adding a new UI elemental probably take 10+ hrs of time just to get it in.

The answer is no, it will never happen. ever.

Might happen.

And by might, I mean we might get the ability to equip say, a Hellbore as a melee weapon and ranged weapon at the same time.

Q would be ‘grip/stance shift.’ Wouldn’t even be hard. Special would be shoot from the hip in melee mode, bayonet in ranged mode.

Can’t say it’s likely since I don’t know the guy who would make the choice personally, but it really comes down to him.

So be more careful with your ‘nevers.’

I think you’re more likely to get melee attacks with ranged weapons on the mouse special button than something as elaborate as this. Interesting read though, not really something I knew about.

Oh, we already have that. I’d like to see it go to the next level. The hellbore has a bayonet already.

The hellbore isn’t that good at present though.

Sorry I meant both light and heavy attacks on mouse special, not simply just attacks.

1 Like