Bayonet Wounds — Correcting an errorPosted on February 11th, 2009 No comments
I mis-stated a statistic on one of my radio interviews yesterday, and I wanted to put it right. I said that there were fewer that 100 reported bayonets wounds during the Civil War. I need to dig a bit deeper to pull up the full statistic, but the actual number is fewer than 1,000 — 944 bayonet wounds — about four tenths of one percent of the total wounds reported. This is one of those falsely-precise numbers, of course. There must have been more wounds than this that weren’t reported, and there were likely many killed by bayonets without anyone bothering to note the cause of death when the dead were cleared from the battlefield. The sources I have dug up so far don’t make it clear if this is the number for both sides, or merely the Union army. (I believe it is both sides, but I’ll have to check.)
All that being said, however, the main point I was trying to make holds true — there were remarkably few bayonet wounds in the war. That is not to say the bayonet was useless — seeing an army’s worth of sharp steel blades marching toward you — or charging toward you — couldn’t have been good for morale. The bayonet also made an excellent all-purpose tool for cutting, digging, prying things open, and so on.