Weapons of War: Infantry
smoothbore muskets were the main weapon of foot soldiers during
the Napoleonic Wars.
Slow to load, trained infantry were happy to fire off three
volleys in a minute, and woefully inaccurate - a marksman
may hope to hit a man at 80 paces, but at 100 the odds were
major improvement on muskets when it came to accuracy, the
rifled barrels of rifles spun the ball so that it kept its
accuracy over far greater distances.
At 200 paces a rifle shot, fired by a trained man, would kill
the target - almost three times the range of a musket.
However, the rifles took longer to load - a fact that put
Napoleon Bonaparte off
The fabled use of cold steel in a bayonet charge is more legend
than fact, as a very low percentage of casualties during the
Napoleonic Wars was due to the dagger-like attachment on soldiers'
The bayonet, however, was an extremely efficient terror weapon
- as few troops would stand against a fearsome charge.
The thought of being stabbed in the stomach with one would
have all but the bravest seeking sanctuary from its path.
the weapon of officers and non-commissioned officers, swords
varied greatly in style from nation to nation and from unit
British infantry swords were generally straight-bladed,
but light-infantry officers wore the curved 1796-pattern
light cavalry sabres.
property of sergeants, the pike was a nine-foot spear that
had a foot-long blade screwed into the pole.
The spearhead had a six-inch crossbar to stop the point driving
too far into an enemy.
Many officers carried pistols during the Napoleonic Wars
but they were not as widespread in action as they became in