Napoleonic Warfare; The Ugly Truth

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Napoleonic Warfare; The Ugly Truth

Postby Chuckman » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:04 am

From; ... tics_2.htm

By today's standards, muskets are not very accurate due to the windage (gap) between the projectile and the barrel. Depending on the type and calibre, it could hit a man's torso at up to 200-300 paces, though it was only reliably accurate to about 50-100 paces.
At 160 and 320 yards out of 200 rounds fired at a target, approximating the size of a formed infantry company, the following number of hits was obtained (Nafziger's "Imperial Bayonets" published by Greenhill Books 1996) :
160 yards 320 yards
Old Prussian 1782 musket 64 hits (32 %) 42 hits (21 %)
New Prussian 1809 musket 113 hits (57 %) 42 hits (21 %)
British musket 116 hits (58 %) 55 hits (28 %)
French [older] musket 1777 99 hits (50 %) 55 hits (28 %)
But in battle 500 to 1000 musket rounds = 1 wound

Factors Affecting
-soldiers pointed
-misfires = 20 %
-soldiers often fired as soon as enemy was sighted (at whatever range)
-Panic Most of All and Aversion to Killing; After Gettysberg thousands of weapons were collected from soldiers 75% were still loaded, half of those with MULTIPLE rounds! (from the above source) As stated in an earlier post based on WW2; only 15 to 20 % of soldiers shoot their guns in combat! (I can repost the link for sources about WW2, but do a search it is easy to find)

3 different studies of Napoleonic Wounds
- 66 % from fusils
- 32 % from swords and artillery
- 2 % from bayonet
Looking at a larger sample of veterans admitted to the Invalides in 1715,
Corvisier arrived at the following breakdown of wounds:
- 71.4 % from firearms
- 15.8 % from swords
- 10.0 % from artillery
- 2.8 % from the bayonet

According to another sample taken (in 1762) in Invalides;
- 69 % of the wounded were wounded by musket balls
- 14 % by sabers
- 13 % by artillery
- 2 % by bayonets

When they say artillery, I am assuming most were by cannister; some by cannonballs perhaps but vast majority of men hit by a cannonball; even in the leg, would die. So actual casualties from art probably many times higher...

Bayonet Charges Almost never actually made contact
General Antoine Henri Jomini (1769-1869) served in the French and Russian armies and participated in numerous battles. He wrote that he never saw a bayonet fight in open field between two formed bodies of troops. Jomini: "In fact, in real combats of infantry I have never seen any thing but battalions deployed commencing to fire by company, and finally by file, or else columns marching firmly against the enemy, who either retired without awaiting the columns, or repulsed them before actual collision took place, or themselves moved out to meet the advance. I have seen melees of infantry in defiles and in villages, where the heads of columns came in actual collision and thrust each other with the bayonet; but I never saw such a thing on a regular field of battle."
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