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Just how did muskets overtake the bow?

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Landsknecht_Doppelsoldner View Drop Down
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  Quote Landsknecht_Doppelsoldner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Just how did muskets overtake the bow?
    Posted: 12-Feb-2005 at 07:19

Oh, and one more thing, Xenophon2000,

I'm not an "armchair general" (no more so than you are, at least)--I have studied fencing and other combat sports and martial arts for a long time, so if you ever want to know how a musketeer made use of his sword during HTH engagements, let me know.

Peace,

L_D

"Who despises me and my praiseworthy craft,

I'll hit on the head that it resounds in his heart."


--Augustin Staidt, of the Federfechter (German fencing guild)
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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Feb-2005 at 09:22
Originally posted by Landsknecht_Doppelsoldner

This is a modern myth.

There is nothing on the 16th century Japanese arquebus that didn't already exist on the Portuguese original.

The reason why the arquebus was so inaccurate was because the barrel was not perfectly round inside. The Japanese, who already had a great multitude of skilled smths made improvements on the design.

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  Quote Landsknecht_Doppelsoldner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Feb-2005 at 11:01
Originally posted by Belisarius

Originally posted by Landsknecht_Doppelsoldner

This is a modern myth.

There is nothing on the 16th century Japanese arquebus that didn't already exist on the Portuguese original.

The reason why the arquebus was so inaccurate was because the barrel was not perfectly round inside. The Japanese, who already had a great multitude of skilled smths made improvements on the design.

So show me some sources for your claim, then.  Give me some verifiable info on this supposed truism.

The fact is that it was the Europeans who had to show the Japanese a thing or two, in this case.  The Japanese swordsmiths who were ordered to copy the Portuguese arquebus didn't know how to close off the breech end of the barrel, and one smith supposedly gave his daughter to a Portuguese smith, in exchange for lessons on how to do this.

It's also potentially significant to note that the Japanese adopted and/or copied many examples of European military technology, but the Europeans did not engage in the reverse.  The Japanese copied the arquebus, and used it in huge numbers.  They also highly valued Western heavy artillery.  In addition, the Japanese also imported Italian and Flemish open helmets (morions and burgonets) and peascod cuirasses, which were incorporated into local armors which were referred to as nanban gusoku (which declares their foreign inspiration plainly enough).  The Englishman William Adams also built a small copy of a European galleon for the Japanese.

This contrasts sharply with the Europeans, who clearly found their own military technology (artillery, small firearms, polearms, swords, armor, ships, etc) more than adequate. 

"Who despises me and my praiseworthy craft,

I'll hit on the head that it resounds in his heart."


--Augustin Staidt, of the Federfechter (German fencing guild)
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2005 at 04:03

Xenophon2000,

Having read this entire thread from the beginning, it is apparent to me that you are not only arrogant, but ignorant as well.

You came on here with a question that has been intelligently answered and you choose to ignore it's validity. Apparently you felt you already had the answer, even though your answer was based on false assumption and a lack of overall historical knowledge. 

As it's already been stated, the feeble experiment that you witnessed against 1/4 inch of steel has no bearing on reality. NO armor was that that thick.

The link to Valentine Armories that you posted had me laughing my ass off. It was talking about tournament armor, not field plate. You screwed up big on that one.

Also, how good is this black powder weapon you fired? How good of a replica is it? What type?

You must also realize that one does not need accuracy when firing into a large group of humans, especially with volley fire.

Read Landsknect's explanations over and over again about 100 times unti it sinks in. To my knowledge, he is 100% correct about everything he wrote, not to mention that he backed up his sources.

There was an almost equal discussion to this one going on at www.myarmory.com

A smart man on there named Gordon Frye further explains the answer to your question:

"Sir Roger Williams and Humphrey Barwick tackled this question in the 1590's... and their answers were pretty definitive. The major problems with the Long Bow were that A.) the Archer needed to be trained for years to have the eye and muscles to actually hit his target at long range, and the art by that period was much decayed; B.) the Archer had to retain his health on campaign in order to "Shoot strong shoots"; C.) the Archer had to "discover himself", or expose his body in order to shoot from a trench, and D.) the logistical problems as noted above. Furthermore, a well armoured Man-at-Arms on a barded horse had virtually nothing to worry about from a longbowman, and there are records of Continental Men-at-Arms laughing at the longbow as an ineffectual toy. Nasty as heck against unarmoured opponents and horses, mind you, but not at all effective against the armour of 1500.

Arquebuses, and later Muskets, were simple to train men to use, would shoot as powerfully with an unhealthy soldier using it as a healthy one, could be fired from cover, and were easier (at least by the 1590's) to keep supplied in the campaigns in the Low Countries than longbows. And finally, the arquebus would penetrate light armour easily, and the Musket would penetrate all but the very finest armour, of which not more than one in 20 men was armed with. Sir John Smith wrote treatises defending the bow, but was effectively shouted down.

One thing to point out is that the 16th Century arquebus and musket was not nearly as inaccurate as the 18th Century variety. By the 18th Century, speed was paramount in their tactics, so ease of loading with paper cartridges was necessary, and a very loose-fitting ball was needed. Earlier however, accuracy and power were the primary motivators, so a much tighter fitting, and therefore more accurate ball was utilized. There are plenty of references to the accuracy of such weapons at well over 200 yards, and English "shot" were to practice by shooting at a 4X4" post at that range. Hardly something that was assumed to be shot at by inaccurate weapons. Sadly our ideas of smooth-bores have been coloured by the disparaging writers of the early 19th Century, not the views of the 16th Century."

Here is the link to the thread: http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=1321&postd ays=0&postorder=asc&start=22

So, if your friend's black powder musket is an 18th century variety, then it is even less accurate than the 16th century varitey, throwing your feeble reasoning and experimentation off even more.

You must also realize that first-hand experience with archery and muskets is not necessary to understand and explain the answer to your question.

I urge everyone on this thread with the exception of Xenophon to RUN (don't walk) over to the link above to the discussion on the Myarmory website and take part in it. There seem to be some fairly intelligent people over there.

Xenophon, I don't even know you, but just from reading your posts on this thread, I already dislike you very much. Ignorance and arrogance, are bad traits when found seperately in an individual, but it is much worse when somone possesses both.



Edited by The Angry Reislaufer
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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2005 at 14:19
why you always come up with the longbow? that's not at all a representative example for a good bow, and from his initial post it's clear he was talking about he best ever bow, the composite bow who wasn't used in western europe at all.
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  Quote Landsknecht_Doppelsoldner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2005 at 21:09

Originally posted by Temujin

why you always come up with the longbow? that's not at all a representative example for a good bow,

Please define what constitutes a "good bow".

 

and from his initial post it's clear he was talking about he best ever bow, the composite bow who wasn't used in western europe at all.

As I already stated, it was used by the Venetians, and the last time I checked, Venice was in Western Europe.

"Who despises me and my praiseworthy craft,

I'll hit on the head that it resounds in his heart."


--Augustin Staidt, of the Federfechter (German fencing guild)
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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Feb-2005 at 12:49

ha, last time you checked, you've apparently not noticed the composite bow only used by colonial Venetian troops, and Venice' colonies were clearly in the Turkish sphere of influence. native Venetian troops used a simple self-bow.

and of course a good bow is a sophisticated weapon, arther than a simple stick with both ends connected by a string, which describes the european bows well enough...

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  Quote redimus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Feb-2005 at 12:51
Originally posted by The Angry Reislaufer

Xenophon2000,

Having read this entire thread from the beginning, it is apparent to me that you are not only arrogant, but ignorant as well.

You came on here with a question that has been intelligently answered and you choose to ignore it's validity. Apparently you felt you already had the answer, even though your answer was based on false assumption and a lack of overall historical knowledge. 

Ignorance and arrogance, are bad traits when found seperately in an individual, but it is much worse when somone possesses both.

Think that pretty much sums it up.  lol @ picking a fight and getting shredded.

 

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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Feb-2005 at 12:57
well would you "intelligent" guys please stop pcking at other members or you wanna get a warning for beign smart-asses?
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  Quote Sikander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Feb-2005 at 14:34

I think that standing up for the bow is nonsence. If the bow was as good as that, no one (either european or asian) would had ever trade it for the crossbow and then, for the gun.

The fact is that the arquebus, and then the musquet, were capable of:

1 - being used by everyone without much experience (I think the above stated is quite enough to explain my idea);

2 - piercing through any ordinary breast plate. Some of the best steel plates, however, couldn't be pierced through, but they were also very heavy (BTW, Xenophon, I HAVE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF THIS!). Usually, because of the weight, these plates were breast plates only. The bullet proof armours were also very expensive, and I think that even no man out of 20 would have enough money to pay for one;

3 - producing a loud noise, which is very effective when it comes to analyse the psycological effect of weapons in warfare.

The bow, on the other hand, although with a greater range, had less (and eventualy, none) hitting power and armor piercing capability.

It is interesting to note that the crossbow, allthough with a lower ROF, was widelly spread. Why is that? Because it was easy to use, and it had a enormous hitting power.

The actual apearing of plate armour, at least when considering Europe's history, and the increase of it's thickness, is not atributed to bows (either longbows or turkish ones) but to crossbows, and, most specially, to steel-bow crossbows, that apeared in late XIV/early XV cent. , and then to guns.

I was lucky to FIRST-HAND experiment the design and weight of four breast plates, from the XIVth to the XVIIth century. They were NOT replicas but originals. The first one was very light and I could lift it with one hand (yes, THAT light!). The XVth cent. one was quite heavier and I needed both my hands to lift it. It allready had an angle, to better resist crossbows arrows. The XVIth cent one was very heavy and had a characteristic "pidgeon qeel" (speling?) bulet-proof design. The XVII cent. breast plate just weighted a ton! But it was in deed bulet-proof since it had the mark of a shot in it, but without penetration. But it was extremely heavy.

Many people in this forum gave the right answers, and at least two of them with gave their sources.

But if anyone else does not agree, then I would be much obliged if that someone could explain me why Everybody in the World abandoned bows (even the excelent turkish bows) and adopoted the gun. Could it be just... I don't know... fashion?!?

Best

Sikander

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  Quote Landsknecht_Doppelsoldner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Feb-2005 at 20:51
Originally posted by Temujin

ha, last time you checked, you've apparently not noticed the composite bow only used by colonial Venetian troops, and Venice' colonies were clearly in the Turkish sphere of influence. native Venetian troops used a simple self-bow.

I never contested that the composite bow, as used by the Venetians, was the result of Turkish influence (on the contrary, I pointed out right from the beginning that the Venetians traded with the Turks, when they weren't fighting with them). 

However, to infer that the Venetians' use of the composite bow was restricted to colonial troops is ludicrous.  What are your sources?

and of course a good bow is a sophisticated weapon, arther than a simple stick with both ends connected by a string, which describes the european bows well enough...

No--a "good bow" is one that has decent range and penetration power--so the longbow certainly qualifies.

"Who despises me and my praiseworthy craft,

I'll hit on the head that it resounds in his heart."


--Augustin Staidt, of the Federfechter (German fencing guild)
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  Quote John the Kern Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Mar-2005 at 08:55
 lol this thread is amusing, a an longbowman i can tell you, because i have seen it, that the war bows of englands with poundages up to 130, can easily punch into plate at 150yrds and go right through plate and out the other side at 50, lol the Yumi bow of Japan is one of the best bows ever made, and Xypthon or what your name is the bow is drawn past the ear for your information, the arrows are often over 33inchs long
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  Quote Landsknecht_Doppelsoldner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Mar-2005 at 06:29

Originally posted by John the Kern

 lol this thread is amusing, a an longbowman i can tell you, because i have seen it, that the war bows of englands with poundages up to 130, can easily punch into plate at 150yrds and go right through plate and out the other side at 50, lol the Yumi bow of Japan is one of the best bows ever made, and Xypthon or what your name is the bow is drawn past the ear for your information, the arrows are often over 33inchs long

"Xenophon" ran away from this debate quite some time ago, and with good reason--he was obviously ill-equipped for the discussion, nor did he really intend to debate in the first place.  I suspect that he was expecting folks here to simply agree with his own flawed analysis of the weapons in question.

However, regarding your commentary on the penetrative abilities of the longbow, it should still be stressed that this weapon cannot pierce the best "proof" plate armor.  This was shown at battles like Flodden Field in 1513--while the unarmored Highlanders were riddled with clothyard shafts, the well-protected Scottish nobility were not. 

And the tests done by the Tower of London Armouries many years ago yielded mixed results anyway--Victorian wrought iron (which is not an accurate representation of later plate armor) was used as a target, and while bodkin arrows pierced this when mounted squarely, they failed to penetrate when the plate was mounted at an angle. 

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I'll hit on the head that it resounds in his heart."


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  Quote I/eye Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Mar-2005 at 17:56

in case xenophon comes back and sees..

3.  The Koreans were using composite(non-recurve) bows with an Effective range of 50 yds which still out-distanced the match-lock musket.

this is how much Mongol and Turkish bows are recurved:
http://jjang0u.com/data/196/110852992137528.jpg

this is how much Korean bows are recurved:
http://jjang0u.com/data/196/110852708962358.gif
that one's actually a ceremonial 2.5 meter monster with 270 pounds strength, but the curve is about the same as regular ones so..

composite bows are often recurved. they refer to different aspects of the bow

categorizing bows:

by size - long, short
by material & process - simple(self), built, composite
by shape - straight, recurved

i.e. Yumi can be long,built, and straight, Korean bows can be short, composite, and recurved.. extremely recurved, as you can see..

and they use powered-down version of the Korean bow in Korean sport archery, at 160 yards.. there's a record that Yi sunggye killed a man with a single arrow at 440 yards, and the rate was 10/minute at a target 110 yards away.. theres a person in the present day who can make those hits.

John the Kern:

composite recurved bows are a little better.. even if you match the strength or try a little harder and match the range as well, you will never match the accuracy with a longbow or yumi..



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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2005 at 19:09

Here is a good article that examines the adoption of firearms over traditonal archery in the English army:

Esper, Thomas. "The Replacement of the Longbow by Firearms in the English Army." History and Technology, 6 (Summer 1965), pp. 382-393

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  Quote Quetzalcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2005 at 20:30
Originally posted by xenophon2000

Hi guys,

The other day, I shot one of my friend's blackpowder match-lock muskets.  The gun was slow to load, the powder  and lit-match was dangerous to keep in large quantities and it fouls up the barrel after like 5 shots.  Seriously guys, after 5 shots, you would've had to start cleaning out the gun.  And in terms of accuracy, I could barely hit a man-sized target at 25 yards, and missed every shot but one at 50 yards.  The burning match is a constant danger being so close to the powder.   Worst of all, every shot produced a huge cloud of foul smoke, so that even if I had a second gun loaded and ready to fire, I would still have to wait like 10 seconds for the smoke to clear up and take aim.  Overall, I think this weapon is a piece of crap.

Now in comparison, my recurve bow seems almost magical.  I can shoot off like 5 or 6 arrows a minute and have 3 or 4 hits on a man-sized target at 100 yds.  The recurve bow is so less than 1/2 the weight of the musket and shorter as well.  Additionally, carrying 20 arrows isn't exactly as dangerous as carrying a quarter pound of blackpowder and lead. 

So the question is, how the heck did this weapon over take the composite or long bow?  An army of longbowmen or horse archers would've slaughtered an army musketmen.  And you can't exactly shoot a musket from horseback.  So how did this happen?        

 

 I don't think it was a piece of crap. One thing you should understand, you are not trained to use a musket effectively, those people at the time were. Also the musket wasn't supposed to be a precision weapon but a weapon aim at a general mass. When you individual aim at a mass, chances are very high you hit something, now consider the destructive power of  a large group of muskets firing together in sync.  Also you don't need to wait for the smoke to clear you just need to aim at the general direction of the enemies.

 Bows were obsolete due to the introduction of bombards and cannons (see battle of Pattay for an example of bombards frustrating longbows). However, although bows may be more effective at long range, muskets tends to have a far more devastating effect on cavalry and infantry at shorter range. So artillery, muskets protected by pikemen with cavalry support was a far superior force than earlier classical medieval forces . You need to look at the combine effect not just at the individual characteristic of the musket itself.  One on one a match-lock musket vs a composite bow, chances is the bow will win .

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