Friday, November 19, 2010

Swiss pikes, English longbows and American rifles. A people, a weapon and liberty.

The use of the longbow is as much the key to the successes of the English armies in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as that of the pike is to the successes of the Swiss. Dissimilar as were the characters of the two weapons, and the national tactics to which their use led, they were both employed for the same end of terminating the ascendancy in war of the mailed horseman of the feudal regime. . .

It was not till the last quarter of the thirteenth century that we find the longbow taking up its position as the national weapon of England. . .

To trace the true origin of the longbow is not easy. There are reasons for believing that it may have been borrowed from the South Welsh, who were certainly provided with it as early as A.D. 1150. . . (Gerald de Barri speaks of the Welsh bowmen as being able to send an arrow through an oak door four fingers thick.)
-- C.W.C. Oman, The Art of War in the Middle Ages, pp. 116-199.


I have been taking advantage of my chronic insomnia these days by reading in the wee hours of the night. This past week I have been making my way through C.W.C. Oman's classic work, The Art of War in the Middle Ages. One fact stood out to me in Oman's discussion of the Swiss pikemen and, in a later chapter, the English longbowmen: In each case the weapon, the development of tactics to maximize its effectiveness, and the character of the people combined to secure their liberties, not only from foreign invader but from oppressive nobles in their own country.

Likewise did the confluence of an independent people, a highly forested country and the rifle combine to make our Revolution possible. Eventually firearms made the pike and the longbow both obsolete, but not before having provided the basis for each people's liberty.

Likewise, the rifled flintlock is now obsolete as a military arm. Yet the modern cartridge rifle which is its direct descendant is not. Swiss militia today have no memory of pikes, yet their rifles are among the best in the world. Still, they serve a nation which is becoming socialist, losing its way, and now seeks to disarm its people, no longer trusting them with firearms. England has already gone even farther down the path of citizen disarmament.

The question for us is, can the rifle which secured our independence and defended liberty in the intervening centuries still be the instrument of liberty's restoration in the 21st Century? That depends less upon the tool and rather more upon us.

The answer to the question will, I am certain, be known shortly.

I hope you're all ready for the test.

It will be graded on the cruel sliding scale of history.



Anonymous said...

"Romping around without a sling on your M1A is no way to go through life son."

good stuff Mike.

Dutchman6 said...

Actually we had to go through the trouble of removing the sling because Oleg said it got in the way.

Defender said...

"A rifle, 20 rounds of ammunition, and the will to use it." The recipe for liberty.
Sorry to hear about the Swiss. No more "I have 20,000 armed Swiss watching the border."
"What would you do if I invade with 40,000 Germans?"
"Each of my men would shoot twice and go home."

Anonymous said...

"the weapon, the development of tactics to maximize its Effectiveness, and the character of the people...." I can only wonder at what's becoming of the character of the people. But I worry about the tactics I see described. The 500 meter war? That will only invite artillery or air support. Closing with the hostiles seems like a better choice.

It's been said that the US Military spends most of its time planning to re-fight the last war; free citizens who wish to stay that way should not plan to re-fight the Boer war. Attention must be paid to modern weapons concepts. Directed energy weapons? Well, even a microwave oven could be converted to a short range DEW. Imagine a stick of 6 - 8 hostiles blowing a door and making a "tactical entry" SWAT style, perhaps to implement some governments cancellation of the second amendment. Now imagine them all going blind as they do so, even if they've cut the power to the house. That's something your local freedom oriented science nerd could set up easily.

Fatebekind said...

You forgot about the crossbow! Easy for peasants to learn to use and punches through plate armor.

Capt45 said...

The Brothers Judd - specifically Orrin Judd - have an essay on the 1938 classic film "The Adventures of Robin Hood" entitled "The Long Bow Theory of Democracy". Google it and read it. It goes right along with Mike's theory and Judd even mentions the slingshot!

Taylor H said...

I believe you when you say it is coming soon. I've been studying as earnestly as I know how.

Sean said...

I'd prefer a stand-up fight. I'm sick of this running around crap.

Anonymous said...

ptotesSean, you may desire a stand-up fight, but against the superior might and technology of the Fedgov Monster all you could accomplish would be to die well. Assymetric warfare will be the only way the People might prevail. I liked the microwave DEW idea.
Freiheit uber Alles!!

DC said...

Reminders like this should be part of the daily news. Seeing that on CNN would go a long way to bringing us back on even keel.

Anonymous said...

"I liked the microwave DEW idea."

Me, too but how?

Fighting at 500yds, bringing in air support... well, if that support comes in over homes and businesses, it night pretty difficult. In the countryside, a 50BMG in the hands of someone accomplished in its usage might cause trouble for an unsuspecting chopper.