Sword and Pistol in Previous Conflicts


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War Squirrel
October 9, 2013, 03:01 PM
I have heard numerous tales on the use of a sword/machete and pistol together at the same time in wars past, such as the Cavalry in the American Civil War, or by pirates in the days of flintlocks, and even up to WW2 and Vietnam by skirmisher teams in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Does anyone have any books, resources or anecdotes to historical usage of this tactic?

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Cosmoline
October 9, 2013, 03:08 PM
Sword and buckler men were still in active use into the 16th century. But I don't know of any formal sword-and-pistol men replacing them. More likely the practice comes from cavalry and dragoon units where it was common to have a horse pistol or carbine and saber. Don't know of any formalized system for using them simultaneously apart from mounted techniques. But it's an interesting idea. The Highlanders would shoot once or twice then swap over to the broadsword in the early 18th century. The bayonet pretty much supplanted that whole system though. It was a lot easier to teach troops to use the bayonet than to try to train them in the refined art of sword fighting.

Maybe there's something in the "left hand sword" school, though. Those guys had a very advanced system for using swords specifically for the off (left) hand. And that would compliment the use of a pistol in the right. Hmm

War Squirrel
October 9, 2013, 03:22 PM
Thanks for the info! Apparrently the Finnish hakkapeliittas would also use similar techniques to the Highlanders you mentioned, riding close, emptying the pistols then pulling out the sword. Neat stuff.
Who used the left hand system and where can I find out more?

Cosmoline
October 9, 2013, 05:19 PM
I'm thinking of the "main gauche" shortswords used in combination with rapiers and smallswords as a parrying blade.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrying_dagger

This ties into another question I've long had, which is why so many handgun shooters for so long shot with ONE hand. Where did this come from? Maybe it's because shooters just had the habit of keeping the left hand free for a blade, or for the horse. The idea of combining blades and firearms is not new. That's where the bayonet came from. But before the bayonet, if your firearm was empty and you didn't have a pike formation to hide behind, you were done. So it makes a lot of sense to have a defensive blade in the other hand. Whether this was actually done very often or not, I have no idea.

glistam
October 9, 2013, 06:19 PM
Most versions I have read about historically, the pistol is fired while closing, then holstered before engaging with swords. Once you're at close range, the pistol (at least most older types) loses much of it's advantage.

This ties into another question I've long had, which is why so many handgun shooters for so long shot with ONE hand. Where did this come from? Maybe it's because shooters just had the habit of keeping the left hand free for a blade, or for the horse.

The one-handed shot can be seen in depictions of handguns since the first single-shot black powder weapons. Seems like firing a flintlock pistol with two hands probably wouldn't have made sense or offered that much of an advantage over one hand, since it you don't have to concern yourself with follow-up shots and the recoil was pretty severe. Imagine firing a big Brecian wheel-lock in a Weaver-stance. The style must have just stuck around out of habit. Say, don't Olympic pistol shooters still shoot this way?

MrAcheson
October 9, 2013, 06:35 PM
This ties into another question I've long had, which is why so many handgun shooters for so long shot with ONE hand. Where did this come from? Maybe it's because shooters just had the habit of keeping the left hand free for a blade, or for the horse.In most cavalry systems, the left hand is the reins hand and the right hand is the weapon hand. This is also why the Colt SAA is designed to be held in the left hand with cartridges ejected and reloaded with the right.

War Squirrel
October 10, 2013, 02:07 AM
This is also why the Colt SAA is designed to be held in the left hand with cartridges ejected and reloaded with the right.

I had an SAA for a long time and not once did this occur to me. Brilliant.

glistam
October 10, 2013, 09:24 AM
There's apparently evidence that the Turks used bow and sword together, resting the spine of the kilij on their forearm so it could be swung immediately after firing the bow. Here's a vid of a reenactor demonstrating it for fun/proof of concept: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTPOm9my5Hg

40 rod
October 10, 2013, 03:45 PM
prior to modern revolvers the pistol was best used in the left hand, blade in the right. Flintlock and early percussion guns were notorious for misfiresl only useful up close and good for only one shot. If you look at a 1870s era US Cavalry trooper you will see the saber hanging on the left, revolver butt forward on the right. Also when dealing with mutineers or rioters who you would rather not shoot, blade in right hand, gun in left does make sense.

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