Civil War is one of the most dramatic episodes in the military history and it features many interesting weapons. Although muskets, revolvers and cannons were used widely; bayonets were also essential during infantry assaults. Cavalry units also used sabers during their charges. However, reports about injuries caused by edged weapons in the civil War were quite limited. It is believed that there fewer than 1000 cases of injuries caused by edged weapons from 250,000 soldiers treated for wound in Union hospitals. Other than bayonets and sabers, soldiers in Civil War also used swords, knives and even pikes.
Except for bayonets, edged weapons in the Civil War were considered as ceremonial and prestigious. Officers often carry them, as well as many mounted soldiers. Although swords are quite often varied, they unsheathed very rarely. Edged weapons were only given to people with higher ranks or those with valiant efforts during a battle. However, skilled cavalrymen could make sabers a very frightening weapon. They often charged with their sabers unsheathed and close range combat often occurred, which is something that many common soldiers want to avoid, due to their violence.
Bayonets is the probably the most common edged weapon used during the Civil War and in a preparation of infantry assault, it is fixed at the end of the barrel. Since the first musket was invented, people have started to attach a kind of long knife on the barrel. It was considered as necessary because people are likely to get off a few shots before they have close-range combats. Because reloading musket is a time consuming task, people needed to have a dangerous weapon that allows them to continue fighting. However, there were actually very few injuries and fatalities caused by bayonets, because the triumphant charging infantry will cause the other side to flee the battlefield.
As mentioned earlier, swords are considered as a prestigious item in the military hierarchy. It is considered a sign of strong authority and given only during promotions. We often see depictions in movies where officers draw their sword before calling upon their troops to charge the enemy. Like any items in the battlefield, swords are also available in different curvature, length and style. It is quite unlikely for officers to cause harm to others in the battlefield with their swords. Other than bayonets, common soldiers also equip themselves with smaller edged weapons, in case they lose their rifle and bayonet in the heat of battle.
These smaller edged weapons were usually personal items and they could prove to be very useful when the enemies are little too close for comfort. They could a variety of small knives that can also be used for cooking and other non-combat functions. However, they avoid using bigger knives that can become a hindrance. In many cases, people didn’t involve in any kind of very close combat with knives on their hand. Civil War was still mainly about muskets and cannons.