If you check this video you can see many Confederate pikes being unearthed. There are also other videos featuring high-tech Confederate pikes. Were these meant just to entertain troops in the field? There are no instances I'm aware of, where the pike was used in anger against the Yankee invader.

EDIT: If you watch the first video, you will see, that the pikes were made in 1865. How could the discussion about their use and their manufacture continue up until the end of the American civil war without actual use in the field?

  • Have you ever worked with government procurement? I used to work on a government study - every year when we submitted it, the Secretary of the Navy asked us to discontinue the study. Apparently he wasn't senior enough to actually change the tasking. The government purchases things because constituents require them to, not because they fulfill a mission, requirement or need.
    – MCW
    Oct 23, 2017 at 11:47
  • Sure, but the pikes were actually being manufactured, not just studied. Close to the end of the war. Oct 23, 2017 at 12:31
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    Pikes were used in cavalry, until 1930th. You cannot really shoot a rifle effectively from horseback (contrary to what the movies tend to show).
    – Alex
    Oct 23, 2017 at 13:53
  • @Alex Those are lances. Oct 23, 2017 at 14:22
  • If I have a government contract to produce pikes, I'm not going to stop producing pikes simply because they're not useful. The use of the contract is to pay my employees. You can stack them in artisanal fashion for all I care. </enough of my wan attempts at humor>
    – MCW
    Oct 23, 2017 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


No. In the "killer Angels," there was a discussion about how Stonewall Jackson had ordered pikes for his troops (that were never used before he was killed).

The main rifle used by the Union Army in the Civil War was the Springfield Rifle, which was a single shot, not a repeating, weapon. (The Confederates used single-shot Enfields). What gave "guns" a large part of their value up to the end of the 19th century was the bayonets.

If you take that thought along a certain line, you might conclude that "stabbing" weapons would be useful in that kind of a war. Jackson, for one, wasn't big on "firepower." His infantry was described as "foot cavalry", which is to say that he relied on the toughness and endurance of his troops more than their weaponry. He and other Confederate commanders. thought that the main weakness of contemporary blade weapons was that they were too single purpose; using elaborate, multifunctional pikes would take care of that. The most famous Confederate command during Pickett's charges was "Give 'em cold steel, boys." General Armistead was referring to bayonets.

  • Springfield, as in Springfield Massachusetts; I think not. The Confederate Army mostly used the British Pattern 1853 Enfield. Oct 23, 2017 at 7:03
  • Interesting. I thought that Charles XII of Sweden was the last major commander to use the pike, in the early 18th century (it was considered oldfashioned by then as well, but turned out to be surprisingly effective). Also, you've repeated one of your links.
    – andejons
    Oct 23, 2017 at 7:38
  • @PieterGeerkens: Clarified that to say that the Union used Springfields, and the Confederates Enfields. Added an apposition to state my "real" point that Springfields were not repeating weapons, which is to say that stabbing weapons such as bayonets and"pikes" had some usefulness against them. Thanks for your help.
    – Tom Au
    Oct 23, 2017 at 7:45
  • @andejons: As I remember, they didn't actually use them, only "thought about" using them. But Jackson would have been comfortable with Charles XII's mindset, "Att gaa paa." (Jag talar lite Svensk.) Basically stabbing weapons would not become "secondary" until the advent of repeating weapons.
    – Tom Au
    Oct 23, 2017 at 7:59
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    @user1095108: I did my best to answer your original question. You just asked a followup question as to why the debate continued without being resolved, and production continued. I can't answer a question about how the Confederate bureaucracy worked. All I can answer is "Were these meant just to entertain troops in the field?" My answer is no, because "serious" people thought about using them in combat. I answered the question you posted six hours ago, which was not the version you just posted.
    – Tom Au
    Oct 23, 2017 at 11:39

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