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 Post subject: Re: Musket vs. Crossbow
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:44 pm 
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I'm convinced that it comes down to logistics. Even if the musket itself was more cumbersome to use, less accurate, less stopping power, and required more skill and training to use -- and I'm not saying it was -- but, in the end, it was significantly easier to get a thousand muskets firing repeatedly on the battlefield than it was a thousand crossbows, and those musket shots do sufficient damage to the massed enemy at sufficient range, then the commander will opt for muskets.

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 Post subject: Re: Musket vs. Crossbow
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:58 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
I'm convinced that it comes down to logistics. Even if the musket itself was more cumbersome to use, less accurate, less stopping power, and required more skill and training to use -- and I'm not saying it was -- but, in the end, it was significantly easier to get a thousand muskets firing repeatedly on the battlefield than it was a thousand crossbows, and those musket shots do sufficient damage to the massed enemy at sufficient range, then the commander will opt for muskets.
Sorry, but... what on earth has logistics to do with the ease of operation on the battlefield? Logistics is organising the supplies, including transport. I don't see the immediate connection.

And btw, where do you take that getting a thousand muskets firing repeatedly on the battlefield was easier than getting the same out of a thousand crossbows?

Coming back to the training issue however, I see a definite advantage on the crossbow's side. Reusable ammunition. As I get it, at least in the Peninsular wars, the infantry was trained by learning the drill motions only. The only ones who drilled with live ammunition were the British and that's why they kicked so much ass in the terms of their rate of fire. Then again, it might be that the dry drill was the actual advantage. If the common infantryman knew the reloading pattern by his muscle memory, it was already enough for him to be effective.

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 Post subject: Re: Musket vs. Crossbow
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:45 pm 
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higgins wrote:
Coming back to the training issue however, I see a definite advantage on the crossbow's side. Reusable ammunition.

Think the amount of work going into manufacturing a crossbow bolt, from carving the wood to casting, sharpening and fixing the tip and feathering the entire thing; a lot of labour, a lot of time, and great cost. Sure, one can reuse it, but in the field, after you’ve fired it, your enemy has it, and he is the only one in any immediate position to reuse it.

Musket balls on the other hand can (and usually were) cast in the field from any scrap lead rounded up, and gunpowder can easily and quite cheaply be mass-produced in huge batches. Shot for shot, musket balls must have been many times easier to come by than crossbow bolts, and must have cost only a tiny fraction of the bolts.

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 Post subject: Re: Musket vs. Crossbow
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:59 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
I'm convinced that it comes down to logistics. Even if the musket itself was more cumbersome to use, less accurate, less stopping power, and required more skill and training to use -- and I'm not saying it was -- but, in the end, if it was significantly easier to get a thousand muskets firing repeatedly on the battlefield than it was a thousand crossbows, and those musket shots do sufficient damage to the massed enemy at sufficient range, then the commander will opt for muskets.


higgins wrote:
Sorry, but... what on earth has logistics to do with the ease of operation on the battlefield? Logistics is organising the supplies, including transport. I don't see the immediate connection.


I apologise, I've muddied the waters.

My point is that we can infer that the musket had significant advantage over the crossbow at the massed-formation level. So even if the musket is more cumbersome for an individual soldier, even if it is less accurate for an individual shot, even if each individual shot has less stopping power, even if a musket requires more training and more skill to use -- the commander will still choose muskets over crossbows if it is easier to deploy a thousand of them into the field than it is a thousand crossbows. So it is a question of logistics.

higgins wrote:
And btw, where do you take that getting a thousand muskets firing repeatedly on the battlefield was easier than getting the same out of a thousand crossbows?


We know this because commanders throughout Europe went to the extraordinary expense and effort of re-tooling their armies abd training their soldiers to incorporate muskets while at the same time phasing out crossbows. Armies and their commanders are extremely conservative people. Unless the advantage was significant the change would not have occurred.

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