John Smythe on archers at Kett’s Rebellion and the Prayer Book Rebellion

The fiercest advocate of the longbow during the period of the Elizabethan bow vs. gun debates was John Smythe, a nobleman and a cantankerous soldier of long experience. Smythe had first served in France during the short reign of Edward VI, and afterwards had fought in the Netherlands (on the side of the Spanish) and against the Turks in eastern Europe. The first book Smythe wrote in defense of the bow, titled Certain Discourses, based much of its authority on the historical triumphs of archery- biblical, classical, medieval, and a few from Smythe’s own time. Those from the 16th century are the only ones really of interest to us.

Let’s take a look at some of the victories of longbowmen over harquebuzers and musketeers Smythe presents, and then see if we can reconcile them with the historical record.

Continue reading

Bows Vs. Muskets in the Imjin War, part 2

More incidents from the Imjin War. These are taken from Firearms: A Global History to 1700 by Kenneth Chase. Bizarrely, Chase takes the typical position that bows were a superior battlefield weapon to firearms despite his book being full of evidence to the contrary. This quote by the Korean official Yu Song-nyong, for example, is pretty damning:

In the 1592 invasion, everything was swept away. Within a fortnight or a month the cities and fortresses were lost, and everything in the eight directions had crumbled. Although it was [partly] due to there having been a century of peace and the people not being familiar with warfare that this happened, it was really because the Japanese had the use of muskets that could reach beyond several hundred paces, that always pierced what they struck, that came like the wind and the hail, and with which bows and arrows could not compare.

The Japanese were in agreement that their musketry was a great advantage. One of the Japanese commanders wrote home in 1592:

Please arrange to send us guns and ammunition. There is absolutely no use for spears. It is vital that you arrange somehow to obtain a number of guns. Furthermore, you should certainly see to it that those person departing [for Korea] understand this situation. The arrangements for guns should receive your closest attention.

More from Yu Song-nyong:

However, the musket is a very intricate instrument, and very difficult to produce. The Jixiao xinshu [written by Qi Jiguang in 1560] says one month for boring the barrel is optimal- that is, one musket takes the labor of one person for one month before it is ready for use. The difficulty and expense are like that. In recent days, the muskets used by the supervisorate have all been captured Japanese weapons. There are not many and they frequently burst, becoming fewer by the day.

I wonder why the captured Japanese muskets were bursting. Maybe the Koreans, lacking instructors to teach them how to safely use the muskets, were overloading them with powder or were failing to fully seat the bullet against the powder.

Although the musket is superior to the bow and arrow, it is slow and clumsy when loading powder and shot, lighting the match, and aiming and shooting. As for advancing and withdrawing at will, responding to opportunities with leisure or haste, being convenient for both infantry and cavalry, and being suitable for all situations, then it is not equal to the bow and arrow.

When Yu Song-nyong talks about firearms being inconvenient for cavalry, keep in mind that he is talking about matchlock weapons. In Europe at this time, cavalry firearms were of the far more convenient snaphaunce or wheellock variety.

Today, the Japanese exclusively use muskets to attack fortifications. They can reach [the target] from several hundred paces away. Our country’s bows and arrows cannot reach them. At any flat spot outside the walls, the Japanese will build earthen mounds and “flying towers.” They look down into the fortifications and fire their bullets so that the people inside the fortifications cannot conceal themselves. In the end the fortifications are taken. One cannot blame [the defenders] for their situation.

When the Japanese invaded Korea for the second time, there were more firearms on both sides.

The Japanese vanguard of a hundred or more arrived under the fortifications. They fanned out and took cover in the fields in groups of three and five. They fired their muskets at the top of the fortifications for a while, then stopped. They left and then returned again. The men on the fortifications respond with [Chinese-style] “victory guns,” and the Japanese main body sent out skirmishers from a distance to engage them. They advanced cautiously so the guns fired but did not hit them, while the Japanese bullets hit the men on the fortifications, many of whom fell dead.

The combined Korean and Chinese army launched a failed attack on the Japanese base at Ulsan:

At the foot of the hill were rotting fields; our soldiers had no place to plant their feet. The Japanese used their guns from the loopholes, and every shot struck its target…. If [the besiegers] lay prone the guns could not reach them easily; if they stood up they had to move in a crouch to avoid [being shot]. And those who lay prone suffered from the mud that covered their knees. Night and day they surrounded the fortress, and the ice and snow cracked their skin.

The Japanese commander Asano Yukinaga wrote home to his father:

When the troops come [to Korea] from the province of Kai, have them bring as many guns as possible, for no other equipment is needed. Give strict orders that all men, even the samurai, carry guns.

Bows Vs. Muskets in the Imjin War, part 1

The Imjin War was an invasion of Korea by the Japanese between 1592-1598. Although the Koreans were initially no match for the Japanese armies, the Japanese were eventually driven out thanks to Chinese military assistance and several decisive naval battles.

At the beginning of the war, the Koreans had virtually no firearms. The Japanese, on the other hand, had large numbers of them, and had trained their musketeers to perfection in their own civil wars. As a result, we have a lot of accounts of battles between the two weapons. The results are consistent with what happened elsewhere in the world: the bow was handily outperformed. Like the English, the Korean’s experience with firearms caused them to slowly but completely phase bows out of their armies and replace them with muskets. For a great write-up of this transition, see “A Korean Military Revolution?: Parallel Military Innovations in East Asia and Europe” by Tonio Andrade, Hyeok Hweon Kang, and Kirsten Cooper.

To start with, here are some exerpts from Choi Byonghyon’s translation of “The Book of Corrections”. The Book of Corrections was a collection of memoirs from a Korean minister, Yu Songnyong.

p. 27

At last, our envoys left for Japan in April 1590 [March 1590 lunar] with Yoshitoshi and others. At the moment of their departure, Yoshitoshi presented His Majesty with two peacocks, a spear, and a sword as a gift. His Majesty  ordered the peacocks to be freed in the islands of the Bay of Namyang and the musket to be kept in the armory. This was the first time that Korea came to possess a musket.*

*At first, King Sonjo and his officials and military commanders did not realize the importance of muskets, the major weapon of the Japanese army. That is why the king simply ordered the musket presented by the Japanese envoy to be put away in the state armory. A few years later, however, King Sonjo’s view of the new weapon radically changed. When Minister Kim Ungnam said that bows were superior to muskets in power, the king tried to correct him with this comment: ‘The power of muskets is five times greater than arrows’.

p. 60

The officer rode on a horse, and two soldiers from the post station walked by him slowly, holding the bridle of the horse. Hiding in ambush under the bridge, Japanese soldiers with muskets shot down the officer from his horse and cut off his head and ran off with it. Upon seeing this, our soldiers lost all their fighting spirit.

After a short while a number of enemy soldiers suddenly emerged and started attacking us with ten or more muskets. The ones hit by the bullets were killed instantly. Yi immediately ordered the archers to counterattack using their bows, but their arrows fell far short of their target.

p. 88

Han Kukham, the provincial army commander of North Hamgyong province, led the soldiers of the Six Garrisons and met the enemy at the Haejongch’ang warehouse. Our soldiers of the northern province being skilled at archery and horsemanship, and its flat and wide ground good for riding horses, those who were on horseback discharged arrows at the enemy, attacking them by turn from the left and right. Unable to withstand our attack, the enemy retreated to the inside of the warehouse.

By that time, it was already dark. The general opinion was that our troops should rest for the night and continue their attack on the following day, waiting for the enemy to come out. However, Han Kukham would not listen and commanded his army to surround the enemy. Using stacks of grain from the warehouse for their cover, the enemy defended themselves from flying arrows and rocks and simultaneously fired their muskets at our forces. Our troops surrounded the enemy standing close together like the teeth of a comb or stacks of firewood. Therefore, when the enemy muskets were fired, they never failed to hit their targets and, furthermore, knocked down three or four men at a time. So our army at last collapsed.

p. 101

Six or seven of the enemy took their position at the edge of the river and discharged their muskets toward our fortress. The sound of their muskets was terribly loud and intimidating, and the bullets crossed the river to fall down in the fortress. Some of the longest shots, flying over a distance of more than a thousand paces, fell on the roof tiles of Taedonggwan Hall. Some of them even drove as deep as several inches into the wooden columns of the battlements.

The enemy soldiers with red uniforms approached and saw a small group of our people sitting at Yon’gwangjong Pavilion. They mistook us for our military commanders and, crawling over a sand hill, fired their muskets, hitting two among us. However, because of the long distance, the two were not hurt seriously. I ordered Officer Kang Saik to retaliate with p’yongjon arrows*, protecting themselves with a shield. As his arrows flew all the way to the sandy beaches on the other side of the river, the enemy was surprised and eventually retreated.

* A small arrow so sharp and fast that it was able to easily penetrate armor and helmets.

p. 119

At midnight of the same day [1592.7.19 lunar], Zhao set out from Sunan and launched an attack on P’yongyang. There was heavy rain, and no guards were seen on the walls of the fortress. The Ming army entered through Ch’ilsongmun Gate, but the roads inside the walls were so narrow and circuitous that it was hard for them to pass through while riding their horses. The enemy soldiers concealed themselves and viciously discharged their firearms at their opponents. The showering bullets hit General Shi Ru and killed him, as well as many of his soldiers along with their horses. Zhao Chengxun finally ordered a retreated, but the Japanese did not chase them speedily. However, some of the soldiers who were in the rear, especially those who were stuck in the mud, were all caught and killed by the Japanese.

The last one is interesting because the Japanese were able to overcome the Chinese soldiers despite the heavy rain.

I will add a few more incidents from the Imjin War in a future post.

John Bingham- The Tactiks of Aelian, 1616

P24-27

Archers haue alwayes beene of speciall esteeme for the field, and preferred before the other kindes of light-armed. Many nations haue beene commended for theire skill in shooting. Emongest the Graecians the Cretans were (of ancient time) sole archers, as Pausanias witnesseth. Yet was not theire service aequall with the service of the Persians. For Xenophon confesseth, that the Persian bowe overreached the Cretan a great way: and that the Rhodians with theire sling owt-threw the Cretan bow. Of the Carduchans a people, through whose Countrey the Graecians passed at theire returne out of Persia, Xenophon writeth thus: They caried noe other armes, then bowes and slinges. They were excellent archers; and had bowes well nighe three cubits long; arrowes more, then two Cubits. When they shotte, they drewe the string, applieng theire hand some what toward the neither end of the bowe, setting theire left foote foreward. With theire arrowes they pierced both targets, and Curates. The Graecians putting thonges to the middest of theire arrowes sent them back at the enemy in steede of Dartes. The same in effect is reported by Diodorus Siculus. Of the Parthian horsemen, Appian saith: When Crassus commaunded the light-armed to disband, & goe to the charge, they went not farre, but meeting with many arrowes, and being sore galled with them, they retired streight, and hid themselues emongest the armed, and gaue beginning of disorder, and feare, repraesenting to the sight of the rest, the force, and violence of the shotte, that rent all armes, they fell vppon, and made way aswell thorough bodies, that had the best, as the worst furniture defensiue: giving mighty and violent strokes from stiffe and great bowes, and forcing out the arrowe boisterously with the compasse, and bent of the bowe. Plutarch hath the very wordes, that are in Appian. The Indians also were good archers, albeit not much praised by Q. Curtius. Hee saith: theire arrowes were two Cubits long, which they deliver out of theire bowes, with more labour, then effect: for as much as the arrow, whose whole efficacy is in lightnesse, becometh altogether vnwieldy by reason of the weight. And yet hee telleth, that Alexander, at the assault of the principall City of the Mallians, was strooke thorough his Curace into the side beneath the pappes with an In∣dian arrowe: with whome Plutarch and Diod. Siculus accord. Arrian addeth the wound was so deep, that his breath was seene to issue out together with his blood. The Gothes and other people of the north, that invaded the Roman empire, had theire chiefe victories against the Romans by the help of bowes, and arrowes. Vegetius (before alleaged) speaketh it plainely: So our souldiers, saith hee, vnarmed both bodies and heads, encountring with the Gothes, were oftentimes wholy defeated, and slaine, with the multitude of theire arrowes. I may not pretermitte the praise of our nation in this skill. Our owne stories testify, that the great battailes, we gayned against the french, were gayned by the ioint-shooting of our archers principally. And that the English haue heretofore excelled in archery & shooting, is cleere by the testimony even of Strangers. Cicuta (whom I named before) commending the vse of bows, as necessary for the service of the field (& that long after gunnes were invented) praeferreth the English before all other, and setteth him downe, as a patterne for other to follow. And Patritius, disputing of the violence of arrows, doubteth not to affirme, that an English arrowe with a litle waxe put vpon the point of the head, wil passe through any ordinary Corslette or Curace. Howsoever the credit of bowes is lost, at this present, with many great souldiers, yet haue they of auncient time been highly prised. Vegetius saith; how great advantage good archers bring in fight, both Cato in his bookes of military discipline doth shewe evidently, and Claudius, by augmenting the number of archers, and teaching of them the vse of theire bowes, overcame the enemy, whome before hee was not able to matche. Scipio Africanus (the yonger) being to giue battaile to the Numantines, that before had forced a Roman army to passe vnder the yoake, thought hee could not otherwise haue the better, vnlesse hee mingled chosen archers in euery. And Leo the Emperour in his Constitutions military hath this Constitution ongest other: You shall commund all the Roman youth, till they come to fourty yeares of age, whether they haue meane skill in shooting, or not, to cary bowes & quivers of arrowes. For since the art of shooting hath been neglected, many, & great losses haue befallen the Romans. And in another place: you shall enioyne the Commaunders vnder you, in winter to take a view, and to signify to the Turmches (Coronells) how many horse, & what kinde of armes the souldiers, vnder their commaundes, stand in need of, that necessary provision bee made, & the souldiers be furnished in time convenient. But specially you are to haue care of archers; & that they, whoe remaine at home, & haue vacation from warre, hold bowes and arrowes in their howses. For carelessnesse heerin hath brought great dammage to the Roman State. So Leo. This of ould time was the opinion of the Romans concerning archers. Howe wee are fallen out with them in our dayes (the skill of the bowe, being a quality so commendable, and so proper to our nation) I knowe not, vnlesse fire-weapons perhaps haue put them out of countenance. And surely it may not bee denied, that the force of fireweapons of our time doth farre exceed the height of all old inventions for anoyeng the enemy. And, when I haue given them the first place, I will not doubt to giue the second to bowes and arrowes being so farre from casting them of, that I would rather fol∣low the wisdome of the Graecians; whoe albeit they esteemed arrowes the best flieng weapons, yet thought it not amisse to hold in vse slinges, and dartes- Every weapon hath it property; and that which is fitte for one service, is not so fitte for another. The fireweapons haue theire advantages; They haue also theire disadvantages. Theire advantage is, they pierce all defence of armour, and lighting vpon a place of the body, the wound whereof endaungereth life, they bring with them certeine death. Theire disadvantages are, they are not alwayes certeine, sometimes for want of charging, sometimes through over charging, sometimes the bullet rowling out, sometimes for want of good powder, or of dryed powder, sometimes because of an ill dryed matche, not fitte to coale, or not well cocked. Besides they are somewhat long in charging, while the musketier takes downe his musket, vncockes the matche, blowes, proynes, shuttes, casts of the pan, castes about the musket, opens his charges, chargeth, drawes out his sticke, rammes in the powder, drawes out againe, and puts vp his skowring stick, layes the musket on the rest, blowes of the matche, cockes, and tryes it, gardes the pan, and so makes ready. All which actions must necessarily bee observed, if you will not faile of the true vse of a musket. In raine, snowe fogges, or when the enemy hath gayned the winde, they haue small vse. Adde that but one ranke (that is the first) can giue vpon the enemy at once. For the rest behinde, discharging, shall either wound theire owne Companions before, or else shoote at randon, and so nothing endaunger the enemy, the force of a musket being onely availeable at point blanck. Contrary wise the disadvantage of arrowes is in the weaknesse of the stroke; which is not able to enter a Curace, that the foote or horse nowe vse. Yet can noe weather bee founde, where in you may not haue good vse of bowes: raine, snowe, winde, haile, fogges, hinder litle (especially the string of the bowe being not to wette) may rather profit Because in them you can hardly discerne, much lesse avoide, the fall of the arrowe. As for quicknesse in delivery the bowe farre excelleth the musket. A good single archer is able to giue fiue shotte in exchange for one of the musketier; and that with such certainty, that you shall not heare of an archer that misseth the delivery of his arrow, where the musketier, often faileth by reason of the accidents and impediuients before by mee rehearsed. Ioine that a whole squadron of archers, being embattailed, may shoote at once together: which onely the first ranke of musketiers may doe. And make the case there were a hundred musketters, and a hundred bowe-men eche digested into ten files, eche file conteyning ten men, the bowe men shall bee able to shoote at once a hundred arrowes (all theire arrowes) for ten bullets given by the musketiers, namely those ten of the first ranke discharging alone. It must not bee pretermitted, that the bowe and quiver both for marching, & all service, are lighter and of lesse labour to vse, then a musket, which is noe small advantage in armes and fight. To conclude the bowe-men may bee placed behinde the armed foote, and yet in shooting over the Phalange anoy the enemy before ioyning, and all the time of fight, even whilest they are at pushe of pike; where the musketier, there placed, must either idlely look on, or else playeng with his musket, most of all endaunger his owne friendes. Neither is the force of arrowes so weake, as is immagined, noe not in the arming of our dayes. For the pike albeit hee haue his head and body covered, yet are his legges, and feete, his armes, and handes open to woundes: any of which parts being wounded bringes a disability of service. To say nothing of his face, and eyes, before which the showers of arrowes falling like a tempest without intermission, must needes breed a remedilesse terrour, and make him thinke rather of saving himselfe, then offending his enemy. The musketier being also vnarmed is as subiect to the shotte of arrowes, as the archer is to the shotte of the musket; and the arrow touching any vitall parte, as much taketh away life, as doth the musket. Lastly a horse-man for his owne person (I must confesse) is safe enough from the daunger of arrowes by reason of his armour but his horse, being a faire and large mark, and having neither barbe, nor pectorall, nor ought else to hide his head or breast, how can hee escape woundes? Witnesse our fieldes in France, where our Archers alwayes beate the frenche horse, being barbed, and better armed, then our horse are, at this day. And for the bloudy effect of bowes the story of Plutarch is worth the rehersing. He, in the life of Crassus hath thus: The Parthians opposing the Cataphracts against the Roman horse, the other Persians galloping heer and there dispersedly, and troubling the face of the field, broke vp from the bottom, hills of sand, that raised infinite dust, whereby the Romans lost theire sight and voice: and thronging together, & thrusting one another were wounded, and died not a simple, or quicke deathe, but tormented with convulsions and panges of grief, wallowing vp, and downe, in the sande to breake the arrowes in theire woundes, or else endevouring to pluck out the hooked heades, which had pierced vaines and sinewes, renting a freshe themselues, & adding torment to torment: so that many died in this manner, & the rest became vnprofitable. And when Publius Crassus desired them once more to charge the Cataphracts, they shewed theire handes nailed to their targets, and theire feete fastened to the grownde, whereby they were vnable either to fly, or fight. These wonders did the Parthian bowes, which notwithstanding were not to bee compared to our auncient English bowes, either for strength, or farre shooting. And that wee may not seeme to rely vpon antiquity alone. The battaile of Curzolare (commonly called the battaile of Lepanto) fought in our dayes betwixt the Turkes, & Christians by sea may serue for an experience of the service of bowes and arrowes. In which there died of the Christians by the arrowes of the Turkes aboue siue thowsand, albeit they were in galleyes and ships, and had theire blindes pretended to saue from sight, and mark of the Turks, where as the artillery of all sorts of the Christians consumed not so many Turkes: notwithstanding the Christians had the victory. Nowe then for vs to leaue the bowe, being a weapon of so great efficacy, so ready, so familiar, and as it were so domesticall to our nation, to which wee were wont to bee accustomed from our Cradle, because other nations take themselues to the Musket, hath not so much as any shewe of reason. Other nations may well for beare that, they never had. Neither Italian, nor Spaniard, nor Frenche, nor Dutche, had these fiue hundred years, been accounted Archers. It was a skill almost appropriated to our nation. By it, wee gayned the battailes of Cressy, of Poitiers, of Agincourt, in France: of Navarre, in Spaine: By it, wee made our selues famous over Christendome. And to giue it over vpon a conceit onely (for noe experience can say that our bowe was ever beaten out of the field by the musket) will proue an immitation of Aesops dogge, whoe carieng a piece of fleshe in his mouth over a river, and seing the shadowe in the water, snatched at the shadowe, and left the fleshe. I speake not this to a base the service of muskets, which all men must acknowledge to bee great; I onely shewe, there may bee good vse of bowes, if our archers were such, as they were wont: which is not to bee dispaired, and will easily come with exercise.

Barnabe Rich- A right exelent and pleasaunt dialogue, 1574

I was surprised to find that this one was published in 1574. The arguments are extremely similar to those of Roger Williams, whose Discourses were not published until 1590. The argument takes place in the form of a dialogue between Mercury and an English soldier. Since speaker tags have been forgotten in some places I’ve added them in for clarity.

 

 

Soul. But if without presumption I might but demaund this laste question wherein I greatly desire to be satisfied, and this it is, whether the Calyuer, or the long Bowe as we tearme them heare in Englande, be of greatest force I haue harde this question diuers times to be argewed on & some that haue bin supposed to haue had good experience haue preferred the the Caliver to be of greater force in seruice then the bow which I think few wisemen wyll beleeue, and our enemies can witnesse to the contrary that from time to time haue felte our Archers force, and how many noble victoryes haue bin by them achiued, Cronicles are ful, and Histories can well make mencion, and I am of that mind that one thousand good Archers would wronge tow thowsande shot, yea and would driue them out of the feeld and there be a great many of that opinion beside my selfe.

[Mer.] What hath bin don in time paste maketh nothing to the purpose for the time present for the order of the warres is altogether altered, and in an other manner then they haue bin in time past, but now to answer to thy demaund and breifly to satisfye thy desire, thou must first consider to what perfection shot is lately growne unto ouer it hath bin within these few yeares, when paradnenture if there were one that sarued with ah Halfhaake or a Hagbus as they termed them which were peeces to small efect, unlesse it were euen hard at hand, ther is now ten for that one, which serueth with that Caliver or Musquet which, peeces ar of a new inuention and to an other effect. So lyke wise they haue a better composition for the makynge of their powlder and the Souldier is grown by practise to a greater celetrity in the using of his peece then in the paste he hath byn of. Thus the effecte of the one by practise is increased, and the force of the other by nature is deminished, for the strength of men is generally decaied, whereby they are not able to draw so stroung a bow, nor to shoote so stronge a shotte as in the olde tyme men haue bin accustomed.

But to the ende thou mayest the better perceaue wherein the aduantage or disaduantage doth growe. I wyl use this comparison (wherby) I doubt not but thy owne reason shall perswade thee.

Suppose one thousande Archers shoulde be leuyed within two Shiers in Englande let them use no further reagard in the choice then of ordinary they ar accustomted: In the seruice of the Prince, let these Archers be apoynted with such liuery Bowes as the Country generally useth to alow, let these Archers continnewe in the feelde but the space of one weeke, abidynge such fortune of weather, with their Bowes and Arrowes, as in the mene time might happen. I would but demaunde how many of those thowsand men were able at the weeks end to shoote aboue x. score. I dare undertake that if one hundred of those thousande doo shoote aboue ten score, that .ii. hundred of the rest, wyll shoote shorte of .ix. score, and is not this a peece of aduantage thinkest thou? when euery Calyuer that is brought into the feelde wyl carry a shot xviii. score and .xx. score, and euery Musquet .xxiiii, and xxx. score.

Besides this euery Bushe, euery Hedge, euery Ditch, euery Tree, and lamost euery Moalhil is a sufficient safgarde for a shotte, where the Archer is little worse, but on a playne, when the shotte wyll conuay them selues into euery couerte, that the Archer shall not see whereat to shoote, and yet hee himselfe remayne a fayre marke for the other, or els can use no seruice.

Now whether part hath the aduantage, I thinke may well be deemed, and whether weapon is of greatest force, a man mays easlye perceaue, when the shotte shall be able to preiudice the Archer, who shal not be able to shoote halfe the grounde towardes him agayne. Farther when the Shotte shal take aduantage almost in eueri ground to shrowd himselfe, where the Archer must remaine an open mark uppon the plaine or els to occupy his Bow to smal efect.

[Soul.] But let it be that one thowsand Archers and one thowsande shot should meete in the playne feelde where no vantage were to be taken by the ground, & admit they were ioyned in skirmish, within .viii or .ix score where the Archer is able to shutte twice to the others once, wherby the Arrowes comming so thick amonst them, wil so astone them that the contrarye part shall not well know where at to shoote.

Mer. But those that frame this argument hath little practise in the use of the Calyver, and lesse experience in the order of a skyrmishe for if a thowsand Archers were brought into the feelde I trust all woulde not be brought to shootte at one instant for yf they were, some of them would shoote to small auauayle, as he that hath experience can well say.

And yet if there were no other aduantage to be used in skirmishe, but who can shoote fastest he that is a ready shoote I dare say, would be loth that an Archer should shoots aboue .viii times to his .v

And this aduantage in often shootyng is not so great in the one but the difference is much more in the other, considerig their force for where the one doth but gaulde the other doth either mayne or kyll.

But to shew thee what farther aduantage the shot hath of the Archer thou shalt undertstand that where the Archer may shoot both wide short and gone, the other may shoott but wyde onely. But because thou mayst the better perceaye my meanynge thou must consider that when the Archer shooteth any distance of grounde, the Arrowe commeth compasse of a great height, so that when it commeth where it should indanger, which is, with in the compasse of mans height it falleth presently to the ground and hath but as it were one lightyng place and paraduenture may come directly ouer one mans head and fall right at an other mans feet which standeth but .iii, yeardes behind, where if it had falne but one foots shorter, it had indaungered the firste so yf it had gone but one or two foote farther it had hazarded the last.

Thus as I haue saide the Archer, though he shoote right yet he may shoote both ouer and under, where the other can shoote but wide onely, considering that the shot is styll carried away within the compasse of mans height, which aduantage to such as hath reason to decerne it arighte shall perceyue, that one shotte from the Musquet or Calyuer, is of greater possibilytie to indaunger then fiue that shall come from the beste Archer that is brought into the feelde.

Soul. I understande the meanynge verye well, and doo nowe perceaue the Calyuer indeede to be of greatest force, and yet I had a great deale rather beleeue it my selfe, then to undertake to make a great many of others to beleeue it.

But now I perceaue we may hange our Bowes uppon the walles for I can not perceaue how they wyll nowe stande us in any great steede to serue in warres.

Mer. Nay not so neyther, was it any part of my pretence to absolutlye to objecte the Archer nor yet to make hym of so small effect, but that his seruice is to be commended, and not to be forborne, for so it mighte as well be sayde what should Horsemen do in the feelde where the enemye hath picks to defende them against whom they coulde yet neuer preuayle: yet no man doubteth but Horsemen are seruisable for manye causes, although it be not to run against the picks, so likewise Archers maye do verye good seruice, althoughe it be not to inconnter with shotte.

But my wordes tended to this ende that I woulde not haue thee to be ignoraunt in the use of so principall a weapon, but rather woulde wyth it might be practised, considering it asketh tyme, or many haue the ready use of it, for lyke as it is a specyall Weapon to hym that can use it in good order, so it is as defused, untowarde to hym that hath not the practise of it, and shal sooner indaunger hymselfe, or his friends that standes nexte unto hym, then hurte his Enemye. Therefore I woulde wyshe that those which shoulde use this Weapon, to be very expert and wary in the use and orderyng of the same.

William Garrard – The Arte of VVarre

The Arte of VVarre, by William Garrad, d. 1587, published posthumously 1591.

Page 2-3:

He which seekes to attaine and attribute to himselfe the honourable name of a Souldier, must first employ his time in practice of those armes wherewith he means to serue, and so apply his time, that when any enterprise shall call him forth to make proofe thereof, he may be able to handle his peece with due dexterity, and his pike with assured agilitie : since those be the weapons wherwith now Mars doth most commonly arme his warlike troupe, and trie each doubtfull fight of bloudy battaile : for in this our age experience and practise makes apparant that Archers amongst forreine Nations be neuer vsed, and the halberd but either amongst few or few in number. The Archer serues to small purpose, but when he is shadowed with some trench or bulwarke free from hargabuse or musket-shot : Or that lyning a band of Hargabusiers, hee doth second them in any inuading onset, and then a whole flight of arrowes, so that they be light and able to flie aboue tweluescore, will maruellously gaule any maine battell of footemen or Squadron of Horsemen. The Halberd likewise doth onely serue in the sacke of a towne, in a breach, in a sally, or canuisado, to enter a house, or in the throng of a stroken battell to execute slaughter ; wherefore touching these two weapons, vnlesse necessitie constraine, and that Hargabusiers be wanting, Archers may well be spared : and these great numbers of Halberdiers and Bill-men, which are and haue beene in times past vsed in England, may well be left off, saue a few to guard euery Ensigne, and to attend vpon the Colonell, or Captaine, which in an armie will amount to a sufficient number to depresse the ouercome and flying enemy.

Page 82

Caliuers or Hargabuzieres, or Musketieres
Such must haue either of them a good and sufficient peece, flask, tutch-bore, pouder, shot, yron, mold, worme, tyrebale, rammer, swoord and dagger, and a morion. The like must the Musketeare haue, witha  forked staffe best hye, with a stringe to fasten to his wrist. Such as serue with shot in raine, mistes and windes, must haue their peeces chardged and primed: They must carie the tutch hoale of their peeces under their arme-hoales, match light in their hands couertly and drie, their peeces faire and cleane within and without, so bee they seruicable at all times, hauing regard they keepe their march and retyre of good distance in sunder, their match and pouder verie drie, and their peeces often chardged and discharged.

Archers or long Bowes.
Necessarie it is that euery man haue a good and meete bowe, according to his draught and strength, light & easie, a light side jake hanging loose to his knee, with a skul, swoord & dagger, nothing upon his armes, wherby in time of seruice hee may easilie draw the arrow to the head, that they may deliuer the same with strength and art, as Englishmen bee accustomed, They must haue also a bracer and shooting gloue, their stringes whipped and waxed ouer with glew, their feathers drie: and so is he seruiceable.

Page 112-113

These two bands of Hargabuzers set to encounter the enemy on their broad sides, the fronts discharge & turn their faces, retyring betwixt the other, which aduance in like maner for their rescue. These retire and charge againe to seruice, by practicing the skirmish in this sort, you may bring bands of Archers to seruice, to the great anoying & discomfiting of the enemie.

These bands of Archers beeing brought to seruice by the Hargabuziers, although the hargabuziers bee accompted to be of greater force then they bee of, and the Archers not now so much used in the field as they haue bin, yet hauing light shaftes made to shot 12. or 14. scoore, may keepe their place, shooting al together ouer the heads of the hargabuziers, to the gauling, blemishing, and great annoy of the enemie.

List of arrow wounds suffered by US soldiers, late 19th century

https://archive.org/stream/areportsurgical00otisgoog#page/n158/mode/2up

Here is a rare opportunity to get hard numbers of the lethality of arrow wounds. This book is A Report of Surgical Cases Treated in the Army of the United States from 1865 to 1871. In reports of 83 arrow wounds, 26 are fatal, or 31%. Excluding men who suffered multiple wounds, 21 out of 76 died, or 27%. Most of the fatalities occurred when “…the three great cavities, or the larger bones or joints were involved…”.

On page 86 there is an analytic review of gunshot wounds. At a high level, there is an 38% fatality rate.

I will look through later and try to exclude cases of multiple wounds, pistol wounds, suicides, accidents, etc. Since the soldiers are not using muskets by this period, the data is not entirely relevant. I will seek sources on musket lethality elsewhere as well.