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 Posted: Sun Jan 3rd, 2010 02:15 pm
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Mark
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Fedreb, that's a good question that you pose and military historians are still very much debating it on both sides of the pond. My own take comes more from reading contemporary accounts rather than actual experience. First off, I think you are quite right about firing three rounds a minute. It's possible, but if you do that and you have are carrying the standard 60 rounds, you are out of the battle in 20 minutes if my math is correct and at the mercy of the battlefield logistics system. As to the loading and aiming, the bayonet that was generally affixed to a Enfield or a Springfield rifle was called a socket bayonet. As you ram the bullet, the bayonet would be offset to the left of the barrel and angled slightly outward so that it would not impede right handed loading. Even with these precautions, I have seen a few a few accounts of men scraping up the back of their hands while loading. In regards to firing, a socket bayonet adds about a pound to a 9 pound weapon. That may affect your aim if you are shooting at a picket 300 yards away, but if you are shooting at a line of battle 100 yards away, you are still likely to hit somebody on the other side.
To sum up, as far as I can tell, bayonets were indeed fixed when preparing for significant action, because, if nothing else, its a powerful psychological weapon for your own Soldiers as well as your enemies. The benefits you gain from that alone are worth the slight detriments you incur. Hope that helps!

Mark

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