Weapons of War: Infantry

The Musket

Muzzle-loading, 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 exceedingly small.

Loading Procedure
Accuracy Figures


A 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 using them.

The Baker Rifle


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' muskets.
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.


Usually the weapon of officers and non-commissioned officers, swords varied greatly in style from nation to nation and from unit to unit.
British infantry swords were generally straight-bladed, but light-infantry officers wore the curved 1796-pattern light cavalry sabres.



The 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 later conflicts.



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