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Why did the line infantry not use shields in the 18th century?

Why did the line infantry not use shields in the 18th century?

Why did soldiers in the line infantry in the 18th century not used shield as protection against the fire from the other line infantry ?

I have seen that line infantry was used this way where the one line are shooting against the other line and vice versa in wars like these: Seven Years War, American Independence War and the Napoleonic Wars.


The most obvious reason is that using a musket requires both hands to load and fire, so a shield would be very cumbersome. They could potentially use a free-standing pavaise, in the manner used by earlier crossbowmen, but that would limit their freedom of movement and still be impractical if you wanted multiple ranks firing.

There was a lot more movement on an 18th Century battlefield than you might think from simple descriptions of opposing lines engaging. The effective range of a musket was a hundred yards or less. As the battle went on, smoke from the guns reduced visibility to even less than that. So units would have to advance to within a relatively short distance of the enemy to engage. They would also need to re-position to outflank the enemy or avoid being outflanked themselves. Then there's always the possibility of cavalry attack where the infantry would quickly have to form squares. Having to shoulder your musket to pick up and move your heavy shield with each maneuver would quickly become tiring and, I suspect, that the shields would get left behind as the battle progressed.

And, of course, there's the additional cost of supplying the troops with shields - it was probably cheaper to recruit replacement troops than it was to supply the original ones with practical shields. The same reasoning could also be applied to supplying the troops with breastplates. While it was possible at that time to make a steel breastplate that could stop a lead bullet, the resulting armor was heavy and expensive.


Another good reason is that a shield does not protect you against firearm. A wooden shield is easily penetrated, an iron shield would be too heavy, and modern materials like aluminium were not available.

EDIT. A shield mostly protects from bow arrows and to some extent from a sword blow. But even the earliest improved bows (Greek gastraphetes and medieval crossbows) could penetrate the shields. Not speaking of musket bullets.


This appears to relate to the balance of offensive and defensive weaponry.

"Modern" materials (and manufacturing) make it possible to produce vests and body armor that offer some protection against modern firearms. By implication, they might allow for usable shields, although shields are less useful than wearable items when you are also wielding firearms.

But in the 18th century, muskets and gunpowder represented a quantum jump in explosive power versus previous firing weapons. Defensive protectors did not keep up during this period.


Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP recently visited Agrivert’s West London anaerobic digestion facility at Trumps Farm in Surrey.

The facility, which was a joint venture between Agrivert and Grundon Waste Management, is in Mr Hammond’s Parliamentary constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge. It was officially opened in June 2014 by Norman Grundon and since then the plant has been operating at full capacity. It treats 50,000 tonnes of organic waste per annum, which includes municipal and commercial food waste as well as a range of liquid wastes.

The site recently gained PAS 110 certification for its digestate fertiliser, meaning that all three of Agrivert’s AD plants are now certified. This is noteworthy because only 18 of the 106 food waste plants in the UK have managed to achieve and maintain PAS110 status.

The Foreign Secretary was met by Agrivert’s Commercial Director Harry Waters and Grundon managing director Clayton Sullivan-Webb, who took him on a tour of the facility. The plant recycles waste predominately from Surrey – including all of Runnymede’s food waste – and South London, and Mr Hammond was pleased to hear that so much local waste is being treated at the facility.

He was keen to understand the economics of the AD plant and how the subsidy regime incentivises the construction of plants like these. He said, “These facilities are required to recycle our waste and produce renewable energy. Anaerobic Digestion clearly has a part to play in meeting the UK’s renewable energy obligations whilst providing a cost effective recycling solution for organic wastes. This facility on the Trumps Farm site has been accepted by the local community as far less disruptive than the previously proposed incinerator.”

Harry Waters says, “We were delighted that Philip Hammond made time in his diary to visit the plant. It is important that politicians understand what our sector is contributing to the economy and the Foreign Secretary was remarkably well briefed and certainly asking the right questions.”

Clayton Sullivan-Webb says, “With the Government widely expected to ban the disposal of food waste from landfill in the future, the visit provided an opportunity for Mr Hammond to see first-hand the environmental and economic benefits that AD facilities such as Trumps Farm offer.”


11th District’s Rasoul rallies Warren County Democrats for coming races

The Warren County Democratic Committee held its annual Fall Dinner Gala and fundraiser at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club on Thursday, September 21. An enthusiastic crowd filling the club banquet room heard from Democratic candidates for the 18 th District (Tristan Shields) and 29 th District (Casey Turben) in the coming November State election, as well as Peter Volosin, who will challenge U.S. Sixth District incumbent Bob Goodlatte in the 2018 Congressional election.

Above, from left, Tristan Shields, 18th District candidate, Sam Rasoul, incumbent 11th District delegate and Keynote Speaker, Casey Turben, 29th District candidate, and Peter Volosin, U.S. 6th Congressional candidate are out to “put the blue back in Blue Ridge” below, Sam Rasoul held a room full of Warren County Democrats spellbound for a half hour during his keynote remarks.

However, the star of the show and Keynote Speaker was Sam Rasoul, the incumbent 11 th District Representative to Virginia’s House of Delegates. As he pointed out with some humor during his remarks, the Roanoke-based Rasoul is the only Muslim member of the Virginia General Assembly. He won the 11 th District seat in a January 2014 special election in which he received 70-percent of the vote against his Republican opponent and former sheriff Octavia Johnson. The election was called after the resignation of Democratic incumbent Onzlee Ware, who cited “family issues”.

Addressing the state and national political scene at what he observed is a pivotal moment in American political history, the 36-year-old Rasoul said there is no shortage of issues that separate Democrats from Republicans as this November and the decisive 2018 U.S. Congressional mid-term elections approach. However, beyond issues like affordable health care for all Americans and adequately-funded public schools, Rasoul told fellow Democrats they must get back to relationship building – not only with voters, but with each other and across Party lines as well.

Rasoul told the story of some Republican colleagues in southwestern Virginia who indicated they were going to endorse his candidacy in 2014. They typed up a statement sent to him that read in part, “ ’The candidate known as Sam Rasoul has now changed his name to Sammy Russell and we endorse his candidacy.’

“And I got a real kick out of it – but the important part of that story is reflective of the delegates you used to hear about in the 1980’s and before, when politicians used to sit down at the end of the day at dinner like this and hash out some of the differences. You hear about Tip O’Neill (D), Ronald Reagan (R) and whoever it may be.

“And that’s what people deserve. They deserve the decency of a functioning government, of people coming together and we’ve got to try harder to make that work,” Rasoul said of political relationship building.

He said jokes aside, he was proud to have received endorsements across Party lines, but added that working in a bipartisan manner did not mean always finding a centrist position on issues – “It’s about process – are you going to show dignity and respect where it’s due?”

Rasoul took to a sports analogy to hammer down his point that the current state of American politics divided irreparably across Party lines is not acceptable for the nation and its citizens.

“You can root for your team and love your team, but anyone who’s a really big sports fan loves to see a good game. And you can root for your team and root for the game at the same time. But somewhere along the line we forgot about the game – ‘well, they play dirty, we can play dirty too …’ ”

Pointing to the impact of non-establishment politicians (Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders) on the presidential nominating process of both major Parties in 2016, Rasoul said, “People are looking for something different. And just as in any industry we’ve got to evolve and figure out how we are going to adapt and connect to the needs of the people as we move forward. So let’s root for our team and let’s root for the game – and let’s give people space.”

Rasoul recounted a story of being on the campaign stump in his first unsuccessful electoral run in 2008, for the U.S. Congressional Sixth District seat of Robert Goodlatte. Going door to door he came upon a typical, Sixth District rural constituent. Introducing himself, he asked for the man’s vote, as well as endorsing a vote for Barack Obama for president.

“Well, I’ll vote for you but I’m not going to vote for that Obama,” the man replied.

“Why?” Rasoul asked the man about his coming presidential vote.

“Haven’t you heard, Obama’s a Muslim,” the man explained.

“Well no, I’ve met Senator Obama and he is a God-fearing Christian,” Rasoul answered, adding, “But I AM a Muslim.” He said that despite that blockbuster the conversation continued in civil and a perhaps eye-opening manner for both men. “I don’t know if I won that man’s vote over that day, but I think it humanized us to each other …

Sam Rasoul was also an entertaining speaker at the head table, as Warren County Democratic Committee Chairman Steve Foreman, left, and Winchester City Councilman John Hill, not pictured to Rasoul’s left as well as Tom and Rea Howarth and Len Sherp, below, can testify.

“So ‘making space’ – what I mean by that is that we have to help each other to realize that the prejudice we have is not the only truth we need to know. We have to be able to talk with our neighbors and realize that it’s there … but let’s talk through it – I’m not going to hate you just because you hate me. That’s not going to help us get through it …”

And getting “through it” as people and a nation is at the heart of what makes these pivotal times in our collective political history, Rasoul observed during his keynote address to the county Democrats. “Don’t point at the other side and say ‘they’re doing this too or they started it’ – that sounds like my seven-year-old … Think about, potentially, trying to do something other than ask for money and run TV ads – we need to do something different,” Rasoul said drawing applause.

Perhaps to illustrate that while political times may change, the underlying current and fundamental issues have long been with us, Rasoul concluded with a quote from President John F. Kennedy. It was a quote written down but never delivered Rasoul noted of remarks that were to be delivered at the Dallas Trade Mart on November 22, 1963, the day Kennedy was assassinated:

President John F. Kennedy addresses the nation during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 – the last time this nation and the world seemed poised on the edge of a nuclear confrontation. Public Domain photo

“Neither the fanatics nor the faint hearted are needed,” Kennedy would have begun, “And our duty as a Party is not to our Party alone but to the nation, and indeed, all of mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power, but the preservation of peace and freedom. So, let us not be petty when our cause is so great let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our nation’s future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence and resolve. I’m proud to stand with you, indeed, to fulfill our duty to all of mankind.”

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Watch the video: Why did Soldiers Fight in Lines? Animated History (January 2022).