March 8, 2018 at 6:48 pm #63164
I recently acquired something that I have admired for decades, but never felt like it was something I thought I might need until recently.
The espontoon was a melee weapon and ceremonial accoutrement for infantry officers and non-coms up until the beginning of the 19th century. Lewis and Clark outfitted themselves with a pair, and George Washington required his officers to acquire them, drill with them, and use them in combat if necessary.
An espontoon is essentially a large headed spear on a shaft of about 7′ length and 1 1/2″ diameter. It is a polearm, also commonly referred to as a half pike. Officers were said to use it in defense of the colors in battle. They were also in common use in Napoleon’s army. They are not for throwing, but for wielding in close quarters melee against infantry equipped with bayonets, or sabers, or other melee weapons of the period. They could be used as both a thrusting weapon and a slashing weapon to great effect.
That Lewis and Clark felt the need to take them along on their expedition speaks to their reliability and usefulness. That they actually used them regularly to save their lives and deter bear and cougar attacks, as well as dispatch game, convinces me of their practicality in wilderness use. Recently, I watched a video where a man used something almost identical to hunt and dispatch a medium sized black bear. Now to be true, the fellow did toss the weapon, and made a remarkable strike. Nonetheless, to see the damage done to the bear by the tool was most impressive. Here’s the link to the video: warning! graphic.
Fortunately, I was able to find a suitable equivalent at Cold Steel. The MAA wing spear is a heavy cast spearhead, much more stout than the boar spearhead. The length of the cutting edge is every bit as long as a short sword. I put a butt cap on the shaft of mine so I can use it as a hiking staff, and also made a leather sheath to fit over the spearhead to protect it and me from accidents. Here’s a link to Cold Steel’s web page on the spear I have
Being a 6 1/2 foot tall husky dude, I have no trouble wielding it around. While it is a bit heavy for a walking stick, I don’t mind lugging it for the significant functionality it provides. Now I’m not going to walk down the street past all my neighbors and traffic with it; I don’t need to. But for out in the sticks, I don’t see why not. Plus, with a shaft that girthy, there’s lots of other things I can do with it.
Just a thought. I am trying to think outside the box based on others’ experiences. Seems like a good idea in the right setting.March 8, 2018 at 6:50 pm #63166
Hmm, links aren’t showing up. Well, here’s the web address for each link:March 8, 2018 at 9:27 pm #63169
The Romans were the only culture on earth ………..that didnt want a throwing spear coming back at them . The Pilum . It was a heavy spear , weighted by a ball of wood . The 2 /21/2 iron shaft was like an ice pick . It was designed to rapidly penetrate shields , armor , and flesh , then bending over onto itself . It would bend , forcing an enemy to discard the shield , or in the case of going through armor and flesh , the poor individual was pretty well done . I bet you could hunt with one of those things . I think Cold Steel makes a pilum ………….if they used hard steel , instead of soft iron , then they got it wrong , and it wont work the way its supposed to .March 9, 2018 at 3:31 pm #63208
If you take a look at melee competition using edged weapons, it is quite telling to watch swordsmen dueling with spearmen. Even if the swordsman is higher skilled, he has a difficult time overcoming his opponent. There’s good reason those sergeants and lieutenants were armed with these things in 18th century armies. They were devastating in CQB.
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