Copyright Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, MA

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French Bayonet

This 17th-century, French-made plug bayonet was intended to be used in close-quarters fighting. It was fitted into the barrel of a musket just after the soldier’s last shot, moments before the enemy arrived before him. Early muskets were heavy and clumsy to load, and even an experienced soldier could take as long as three minutes to load his musket. The bayonet transformed his just-fired musket from a club into a pike, allowing him a longer reach in the attack. It could also be used as a hand-held dagger. The term “bayonet” may have come from the name of the French town of Bayonne, whose soldiers were known to carry a long knife of this type. Tradition holds that this bayonet was taken during King Philip’s War (1675-1676) from a Native American. If true, then it was almost certainly obtained from the French through trade, as knives and other manufactured goods were highly sought after by the Indians.

Date: 1670 - 1700 
Topic: Military 
Materials: Brass, steel
Dimensions: L: 19 in.(48.2 cm.), W: 3.5 in.(8.8 cm.) 
Accession #: 1950.01

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