Posted 9 years ago
Well, I had no Egyptian Rolling Block bayonet to post with the last rifle, and I have no Chassepot Rifle to post with this bayonet, and since I’m showing bayonets with each of my rifles, I’ll just lump these two together and hope nobody notices.
One of the cool things about the French Chassepot bayonet is the markings in script on the spine. Mine says "Mre Impale de St Etienne Aout 1867" (Manufactured in the Imperial Armory of St. Etienne in August 1867) The French Model 1866 bayonet was a design widely copied all over the world. Now, I’m going to use this opportunity to dispel some myths. Please forgive me if it sounds like I’m ranting without provocation, but I’ve come up against these myths a number of times; sometimes stated by otherwise very knowledgeable people.
The Chassepot bayonet was the first of the French saber bayonets to have a hooked quillion. This design feature was quite popular in the late 19th Century, when the bayonet was considered a form of fencing. When parrying the enemy’s thrust, the soldier was to use his own bayonet to deflect the enemy blade and the quillion - like the quillion on a sword - was intended to keep the enemy's blade from continuing downward; in this case sliding down the length of the rifle to strike the soldier’s left arm and hand holding the forestock of his rifle. It was not, as some have said, a blade breaker, nor were soldiers attempting to catch and twist the opponent’s rifle from their grasp. Some have also said it was used to stack arms, but most rifles of the period had stacking swivels or other hardware that met this purpose.
Another feature, which was carried on from the French 1840 bayonet, is the recurved blade, or “Yataghan style” blade, which was based on North African Yataghan swords. This blade shape can also be found through the Balkans and Turkey, and was another very popular style for bayonets that other countries copied from the French in the late 19th century. Some have said this feature was to keep the blade away from the path of the bullet, but there were plenty of straight sword bayonets in the black powder era, and literature of the period makes no mention of this intent. In 1883, Author Richard Burton (Not the actor!) wrote “The ‘curved thrust’ so imposed upon Colonel Mercy, of the French army, that he proposed…to adopt the Yataghan, whose beautifully curved line of blade coincides accurately with the motion of the wrist in cutting, and to which he held to be equally valuable for the point.” Unfortunately, Burton goes on to say “As a bayonet it lost all its distinctive excellence; the forward weight, so valuable in cutting with the hand, made it heavy and unmanageable at the end of a musket.” So in my opinion, the fact that this feature was so widely copied was that in the late 19th century, everyone thought the French knew what they were doing.
Fullers – those are the hollowed out portions on the sides of the bayonet blade. They are not “blood grooves” to let out the enemy’s blood or to keep the wound from somehow sucking on to the bayonet. Actually it’s the same principle as is used in structural steel “I” beams, and on the Chassepot you can really see the resemblance. Fullers allow for a lighter thinner blade without sacrificing rigidity or strength.
Ok, unprovoked rant over with.