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Jackson and Pikes - Thomas Stonewall Jackson - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Thu Mar 15th, 2012 08:14 pm
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Mark
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Somewhere I remember reading that Jackson had made requisitions for a large number of pikes for his soldiers, but I cannot for the life of me remember where. Any ideas? Thanks.

Mark



 Posted: Thu Mar 15th, 2012 08:42 pm
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Texas Defender
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Mark-

  I have read in more than one place that General Jackson wrote a letter in April, 1861 that requisitioned 1000 pikes. I've never seen the text of the letter, but a line quoted from it supposedly said: "Under Divine blessing, we must rely on the bayonet when firearms cannot be furnished." I can't vouch for the accuracy of this information, but it might give you a lead.



 Posted: Thu Mar 15th, 2012 11:07 pm
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Thanks for the quote TD. I see that quote plastered all over the internet. Supposedly it is from April of 1862, but I can't seem to find the source. Its not from the OR. I will keep looking though.

Mark



 Posted: Fri Mar 16th, 2012 03:24 am
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I was thinking it was going to be a Federal officer instead of Jackson. Richard H. Rush of the 6th Pennsylvania in fact. But looking at things there was a plan in April of 1862 to have two companys in every Confederate regiment armed with pikes. bMaybe that originated from the Jackson letter.



 Posted: Fri Mar 16th, 2012 12:13 pm
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Hellcat, General McCellan actually personally asked the 6th PA Cavalry to take up lances. Seeing this as an opportunity to be a special "elite" unit, they readily agreed. They kept the lances until mid-way through 1863. Where did you see that plan to arm two companies with pikes? I am surprised at how mainstream calls for the use of pikes was. As late as 1815, a few US Infantry regiments were armed at least in part with pikes, and of course Governor Joe Brown of Georgia had thousands of pikes made for home guard defense that were never issued. When he occupied Baltimore in 1861, Ben Butler confiscated 4000 pikes that were destined for the Confederate army. In mid-1863 Butler also had a plan for landing a brigade of white troops in the deep south with thousands of pikes to issue to slaves. As silly as it may seem to us today, the pike was seen as cheap, effective in close combat, and easy to use. More importantly, it did not require ammunition.

Mark

Last edited on Fri Mar 16th, 2012 12:14 pm by Mark



 Posted: Sat Mar 17th, 2012 03:30 am
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Try this Mark, I think this is where the site I found yesterday got it's info from.

 The lance, another serious weapon in the hands of a trained trooper, also appeared in the war. The 6th Pa. Cav., "Rush's Lancers," was armed with this weapon, in addition to its pistols and a few carbines, until May '63. The weapons shortage in the South led its leaders to give serious consideration to arming troops with lances and pikes. In early 1862 a set of resolutions provided for 20 regiments of Southern pikemen, and on 10 Apr. '62 an act was passed that two companies in each regiment be armed with pikes. "Strangely enough, such foolishness met with the complete approval of the military leaders, and even Gen. Lee on April 9, 1862, wrote Col. Gorgas (Chief of Confederate Ordnance), 'One thousand pikes should be sent to Gen. Jackson if practicable". Georgia's gov. spurred the Production of weapons that are now known as "JOE BROWN'S PIKES."

The full page is here

http://www.civilwarhome.com/weapons.htm

Looking at this I'm no sure if it's saying raise twenty regiments of pikemen, raise twenty regiments with two companies of pikemen in each regiment, or two companies of pikemen in every regiment.

As for pikes making a regiment elite, what's going to make them elite? Yeah they don't have to worry about ammo, but I don't believe historically the pikeman was an eliete soldier. They were more an answer to the mounted knight. And by the time of the Civil War a unit whose principle weapon was the pike seems less elite to me do to range. Look at how many folks were likely to get mowed down in a bayonet charge before they ever reached the enemy line. At least with the bayonet they might be able to get off a couple round before adding the bayonet (or they might be able to add the bayonet and get of a single round before charging). With just a pike as the main weapon it seems you're more gonna be mowed down long before you can even get close. 

Last edited on Sat Mar 17th, 2012 03:50 am by Hellcat



 Posted: Sat Mar 17th, 2012 12:49 pm
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Thanks for the link Hellcat. As you your question about "eliteness," its for the same reason Civil War soldiers thought that being a member of a Zouave unit made them part of an elite unit. They felt special because they looked different than the other units. Remember what kind of romantic era mindset they are growing up in. War was about romantic and glorious charges ala Napoleon. It took several years of harsh reality to beat those ideas out of them. I'm not saying they ARE elite, I'm just saying that is the mindset they entered the war with.

Mark



 Posted: Sat Mar 17th, 2012 01:16 pm
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Ok, I found the April 10 1862 act of the Confederate Congress. I think Jackson and Lee were responding to this.

"An Act to provide for keeping all fire-arms in the armies of the ConfederateStates in the hands of effective men. April 10, 1862. Companies, &c., of troops to be armed with pikes or other arms. How organized. The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorised to organise companies, battalions or regiments of troops, to be armed with pikes, or other available arms, to be approved by him, when a sufficient number of arms of the kind now used in the service cannot be procured; such companies, battalions or regiments to be organised in the same manner as like organizations of infantry now are under existing laws. To serve as infantry or be attached to other regiments in the service. May be detailed to fill vacancies. SEC. 2. Be it further enacted, That the President may cause the troops armed and organised as herein provided, to serve as similar organizations of infantry now do, or to attach troops so armed to other regiments in the service, in numbers not exceeding two companies of troops so armed to each regiment. And the colonel of the regiment to which such companies may be attached, shall have power to detail men from such companies to take the place of men in the companies armed with fire-arms, whenever vacancies may occur from death, or discharge, or in cases of absence, from sickness, furlough, or any other cause: the true intent and meaning of this provision being to render every fire-arm in the army available at all times, by having it always in the hands of a well and effective man. Secretary of War to furnish a copy of this act to every General in the service. SEC. 3. Immediately after the passage of this act it shall be the duty of the Secretary of War to furnish a copy of the same to every General in the service. APPROVED April 10, 1862."

Link from UNC Documenting the American South: http://docsouth.unc.edu/imls/statutes/statutes.xml

Thanks for the help everyone!

Mark



 Posted: Mon Mar 19th, 2012 02:37 am
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Mark wrote: Thanks for the link Hellcat. As you your question about "eliteness," its for the same reason Civil War soldiers thought that being a member of a Zouave unit made them part of an elite unit. They felt special because they looked different than the other units. Remember what kind of romantic era mindset they are growing up in. War was about romantic and glorious charges ala Napoleon. It took several years of harsh reality to beat those ideas out of them. I'm not saying they ARE elite, I'm just saying that is the mindset they entered the war with.

Mark


I get what you're saying here Mark, and I certainly understand the whole deal with the Zouaves. I can see how folks would have seen their flamboyant uniforms were a sign of their being an eliete unit. But I have a hard time seeing how the soldiers carrying a pike would have seen themselves as elite before their first battle. I mean here you are carrying something that's something like eigth to eleven feet long and a lot of soldiers probably did a bit of hunting before they joined up. So why wouldn't they be looking at the pike and thinking about the distances at which their shooting deer or birds at? Seems to me that it may have been more the folks at the top looking back on the Napoleonic Wars with such romantic notions while the average soldier may have been starting to question things early on  but not yet realizing what their in for.

 



 Posted: Mon Mar 19th, 2012 12:51 pm
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Hellcat, in regards to carrying the pike, I agree with you. In fact, I can point to enlistment ads in several Southern newspapers (spring 1862) that encourage men to enlist in already existing Confederate regiments because new regiments "will likely be armed with pikes." The pike was seen as an effective weapon for untrained men and as a weapon of last resort. Its chief advantage was that it was cheap and did not require logistical support. I disagree about the lance though. Men growing up in the 1830s and 1840s loved reading tales of Napoleon from Sir Walter Scott and other romantic authors. Napoleon's lancers were seen as some of his more colorful and effective units. Hunting was just that-hunting. The real test of courage for men was in battle.

"The lance being new and highly burnished, the scarlet pennon bright and attractive, the new uniforms all combined to render [the regiment] a brilliant and imposing pageant." SGT Thomas Smith, 6th PA Cavalry

"In a regular charge, the lance offers great advantages." General Henry Halleck



 Posted: Tue Mar 27th, 2012 11:56 pm
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Mark, just started reading Walter C. Hilderman's book, " They went into the fight Cheering" Confederate Conscription in North Carolina. Read this passage and thought of your post. Pg. 11,12, Thus, most of North Carolina's early volunteers were issued standard, though dated, military arms and equipment. North Carolina sent ten thousand stand-of-arms to Virginia. By late 1861, the arsenal supply was exhausted. At that time, some North Carolina regiments left Raleigh armed with spear-like weapons called "Pikes" or with no weapons at all.



 Posted: Wed Mar 28th, 2012 04:30 pm
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Good to hear from you Pender! Thanks for the reference. I guess that is a good incentive to sign up early!

Mark



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 Posted: Wed May 30th, 2012 05:05 am
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Economic forces, huh? Could you please expand upon that as to what economic forces have to do with the use of pikes during the war?



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