Original European Late 18th Century Brass Mounted Plug Bayonet

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This lovely example of a plug bayonet dates back to the late 17th century, circa 1770 to 1790s. We believe this bayonet to be of either English origin or American, which during this time would have been nearly identical. This type of bayonet was used exactly how it sounds, by plugging the barrel of the musket, turning it into essentially a spear.

The first recorded instance of a bayonet proper is found in the Chinese military treatise, Binglu published in 1606. It was in the form of the Son-and-mother gun, a breech-loading musket that was issued with a roughly 57.6 cm (22.7 in) long plug bayonet, giving it an overall length of 1.92 m (6 ft 4 in) with the bayonet attached. It was labeled as a "gun-blade" with it being described as a "short sword that can be inserted into the barrel and secured by twisting it slightly" that it is to be used "when the battle have depleted both gunpowder and bullets as well as fighting against bandits, when forces are closing into melee or encountering an ambush" and if one "cannot load the gun within the time it takes to cover two bu (3.2 meters) of ground they are to attach the bayonet and hold it like a spear".

Early bayonets were of the "plug" type, where the bayonet was fitted directly into the barrel of the musket. This allowed light infantry to be converted to heavy infantry and hold off cavalry charges. The bayonet had a round handle that slid directly into the musket barrel. This naturally prevented the gun from being fired. The first known mention of the use of bayonets in European warfare was in the memoirs of Jacques de Chastenet, Vicomte de Puységur. He described the French using crude 1-foot (0.30 m) plug bayonets during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). However, it was not until 1671 that General Jean Martinet standardized and issued plug bayonets to the French regiment of fusiliers then raised. They were issued to part of an English dragoon regiment raised in 1672, and to the Royal Fusiliers when raised in 1685.

This plug bayonet measures 11 ½” total with an 8” double edged blade. The redwood handle makes up 3 ¼” and is in lovely condition with two brass bands located at the top and bottom of the handle. The condition of the bayonet is close to excellent for the age, the blade even retains some of the original finish! There is the expected cracks in the wood handle due to age and wear, but still in great condition for being nearly 250 years old.

A lovely example that comes more than ready for further research and display. 

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