Longbows vs Muskets ?

geepee wrote:
“…but then i read somewhere that British fighting the scots using muskets could be defeated by charges of men with swords until the bayonette came about…”

The original tactics for fighting with the bayonet was to handle the weapon like a short pike or spear<1>, the weapon being used at shoulder height with one hand on the butt of the musket (remember that in the 1740s, most European armies were not long away from pike, some may still have had them). In these circumstances, a higlander armed with a sword and target (or in the case of many of the “front rank” highlanders sword, target, dirk and a dag or two) would have a distinct advantage.

It took a re-inforcement of discipline and a change in tactics to beat this. The new tactic meant learning to trust the man on your left such that, instead of tackling the man to your front you, as a line soldier, would attack the enemy to your right front, as, his defence (target) is to his left and front and his right flank is moderately undefended and open to attack, but you must be able to trust that the man to your left will do the same for you.

I believe that, what we consider “more conventional” bayonet usage developed (at least in Britain) in the period between 1746 and the 1770s.

Best Wishes

<1> The earliest (plug) bayonets actually fitted into the muzzle of the musket redering it unusable, it took the invention of the socket bayonet to allow the musket to be used with the bayonet fitted.

Native Americans were encouraged to start using guns to get them off bows & arrows. The 2 reasons I heard were because (1) the arrows were shot much more accurately, and (2) that way the invaders/colonizers could control supply of the weapons.


The British tactic of protecting the man to your left as a tactic of itself was not all that effective, but what did make the differance was that whilst being trained to operate this way the English soldiers became more disciplined and learned how to take orders better.

English lines had been notorious for their fragility and the belief among them that there was a plan which would work made the plan work.

The ‘Scottish charge’ as it was known was very difficult to deal with, the clans would rush toward their enemy as a loose mob, stop and take a shot if they had firearms and then continue their rush, tactics such as push and pike and massed striding toward the enemy were not effective as a counter to this.

The reason that the English and European armies of the time fought like this was that it took little time to train a fieldworking peasant, but equally such a person when faced with what must have been a terrifying assault would be more likely to break and run.