On Killing by LtCol Dave Grossman, 2009, Excerpts
The closer the soldier draws to his enemy the harder it is to kill him, until at bayonet range it can be extremely difficult, and the average human being has a strong resistance to piercing the body of another of his own kind with a handheld edged weapon, preferring to club or slash the enemy than a piercing blow. To pierce is to penetrate into the enemy’s essence.
A stroke with the edges seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended by the bones and armor. On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal. The Romans had a serious problem with their soldiers not wanting to use piercing blows. They were likewise taught not to cut but to thrust with their swords.
When a man bayonets a person who is facing him, the “sobbing scream,” the blood shooting out of his mouth, and his eyes bulging out “like prawns” are all part of the memory the killer must carry forever. The resistance to killing with the bayonet is equal only the enemy’s horror at having this done to him. It is no wonder that actual bayonet combat is extremely rare in military history. Soldiers who would bravely face a hail of bullets will consistently flee before a determined individual with cold steel in his hands. When the bayonet is used, the close range at which the work is done results in a situation with enormous potential for psychological trauma.
French Bayonet Charge WWI
Third Presidential Debate
22 Oct 2012
You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed.
Army drops bayonets, revamps training
16 Mar 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. — New soldiers are grunting through the kind of stretches and twists found in “ab blaster” classes at suburban gyms as the Army revamps its basic training regimen for the first time in three decades. Heeding the advice of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans, commanders are dropping five-mile runs and bayonet drills in favor of zigzag sprints and exercises that hone core muscles. Battlefield sergeants say that’s the kind of fitness needed to dodge across alleys, walk patrol with heavy packs and body armor or haul a buddy out of a burning vehicle.