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DarkMortar

Difference between spearman and pikeman?

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DarkMortar    127
Its be really bothering me, is there a difference? I mean can a pikeman have a sheild also like a spearman as i know it. I usually think of pikeman without a sheild. I need to know if there is a difference since they use similar weapons. And one of them can "throw" spears or these pikes....

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erissian    727
Essentially, they're similar weapons, but pikes are frickin huge. A spear might be a few feet long. It can be used in close quarters or thrown. A pike can be over twenty feet long, and isn't well suited outside of the front line or calvary. The only thing that's going to happen when you try to throw your pike is you're going to trip your horse. :)

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I guess I'll throw in my ill-informed opinion before I look it up and try to be helpful. I always thought pikes were just really long sharp sticks, used by infantry to counter cavalry charges, whereas spears are smaller, more agile, often metal-tipped weapons that are used as a primary implement for hand-to-hand combat between infantry units.

I'll edit this when I'm less ignorant.

Edit: Here we go.

The pike is almost what I thought it was. IT actually had a metal point, but it was mostly used against cavalry, and ranged in length from 3 to 4 meters, apparently. It remained popular after firearms were introduced, although the tactics shifted somewhat. Pikemen in medieval times were arrayed in passive defensive "hedgehog" formations to stymie cavalry charges, and in later times were supported by more active anti-infantry units like halberdiers. They were generally vulnerable to bowmen and crossbowmen.

Spears are among the oldest tools we've got, so there's a lot of material there. The specific object to which the word refers is dependent on culture and time period. I can't help you there.

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poss74    193
Pikes were good against cavalry -- present a mass of sharp points that no horseman would want to charge into (or horses for that matter) -- but they could also be used reasonably effectively against other infantry that had much shorter reach weapons (like spears).

Pikes are the longest pole-arms, at around 16ft (nearly 5m) long.

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DJ14IVI3    100
Because of the enormous size of pikes it's darn near impossible to use a shield in conjunction to it. This means that pikemen have to have decent armour or face utter obliteration by enemy archers. Spearmen, on the other hand, can wield large shields which they can employ in a testudo formation (classical Roman formation, the famous turtle) to make themselves nearly immune to arrows.
When facing cavalry, however, the short spears are vastly inferior to the long pikes. There's also the fact that you can use pikes in a deeper formation which makes it much harder for the enemy to breach your lines.
All in all, pike is a bit more specialized as it's mainly used on the deffensive (this depends on the time period and region, though) while spear is the general all-around weapon that most men in an army use because it's the cheapest true weapon (ie not a farming tool).

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Matt Lloyd    228
Taken from the tabletop wargame rulebook for "DBA" (De Bellis Antiquitatis) are the following bits of info:

"Spears - representing all close formation infantry fighting with spears in a rigid shield wall, such as hoplites, Punic African foot, Byznatine skutatoi or Saxon fyrd. The mutual protection provided by their big shields, tight formation and row of spear points gave them great resisting power, so that two opposed bodies of spears might fence and shove for some time before one broke. An advantage could be gained against some opponents by increasing formation depth, provided the reduced frontage did not cause them to be overlapped. Steady spears could usually hold off horseman, but psiloi or light skirmishing horse could force them to halt and present shields, and might surround and destroy an outflanked body."

"Pikes - including all close formation infantry who fought collectively with pikes or long spears wielded in both hands, such as Macedonians, Scots, Flemings or Swiss. Their longer weapons made them even better than spears at holding off charging mounted troops, while in deep formations they could roll over most foot, but the long shafts also made formation keeping more difficult, so that gaps resulting from movement or the stress of combat could be exploited by blades* or warband*. Less effective shields made them more vulnerable than spears to bows and psiloi."


* - blades / warband are other troop types in the game with blades usually representative of your typical Roman legionary or dismounted medieval knight and warband representative of Germanic barbarians, or other impetuous infantry.

To sum up:

spears - good against mounted, okay against other foot, slow to force a result, poor against skirmishers

pikes - better than spears against mounted, usually much better against other foot when in deep formations, much poorer against bows and foot skirmishers.

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Parthon    247
Spears were popular in the Roman times, especially those made of bronze, and even before that in the days of Troy and the Greeks.

When facing infantry on a field, a spear could be thrown to possibly injure an opponent making them useless in a fight, it wasn't much but it was worth trying the attempt, and the reason brzone spears were used is that when they hit something, like a shield, a person or the ground, they would twist, bend and lose their point and become useless to throw back. Of course romans used to carry bronze swords as well so that they could fight after they had thrown their spear. Much of the armour, weapons and shields in this time was bronze.

Later however, when cavalry became popular, spears got longer, started being made of wood and tipped with iron, all to try and even the balance between infantry and cavalry. A 20foot pike could be carried by a footman, then when receiving a charge the end would be set in the ground and the cavalry would be faced with having to ride into a row of razor sharp steel points, lessening their effectiveness. This forced combat tactics such as archers to try and break the line by firing into foot soldiers, foot soldiers wearing scale, and chainmail to protect them from arrows, and mounted infantry, tough soldiers who could fight even after losing their horse.

A halbard was designed for mounted infantry, being a long shafted weapon with a pike like point and a long blade for use in close-ish combat.

But as for historically, the weapons were not used at the same time as the effectiveness of the spear almost completely diminished, due to the rise of cavalry, archers and the use of iron and steel.

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alunharford    122
Pikemen were usually used in defense, usually to defend archers against cavalry attacks, which they were vulnerable to. A pike is basically a *big* (12' or more) long pointy stick that makes cavalry die if they run into it (they're basically the medieval equivalent of barbed wire). It's heavy, so you have to hold it in both hands (and be f**kin' strong). Pikes are only useful in formation, and turning the formation was difficult, so they were very vulnerable to attacks from the sides and behind.

Spears are a hunting weapon used by practically every human tribe since pre-historic times. They're 3' to 6', and held in one hand - and you can stab animals with them. Since they work with humans too, they were sometimes used in warfare.

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Talroth    3247
a 'pike' IS a spear, the same as a lance is a spear, however not all spears are lances or pikes.

It is like comparing a modern M16 to 'firearm', where 'firearm' is to M16 as spear is to pike. Spears can come in so many forms, those used for throwing are commonly called Javelins, however Romans used 'Philum' rather than javelings.

Now, pikes used in war are usually much longer, nearly always used with two hands. They didn't always have armour, but the famous ones (Swiss for example) basically became famous BECAUSE they had armour for their pikemen.

Remember, weapon classes are not cut and dried in history, there were no standard rulebooks that everyone had to follow. People changed and morphed things as time went on. When going off to war, someone sees something that works well (often in the hands of the other guy's hands) and run home and have someone make something that looks and works similar.

A few errors here (I don't have time to cite sources however, sorry). Roman Pilum were a wood shaft, with an IRON point. (if you have a good source for bronze, please post it. Cheap websites or wikipedia aren't good sources, neither are books you pick up for less than $80)
Later the shaft became narrower, this is fairly likely to allow easier penitration of shields, with the added bonus that it bends after hitting something. The main goal was to kill someone, but if you can wound them or atleast make their shield useless, they become much easier to kill.

Other things to remember. Mail means chain/web/net, not armour. Suggested spelling it maille (frech) for better text searching. most swords are under 4 pounds, largest I'm aware of is 12 something, and it wasn't a weapon. If at any time you have someone saying their sword is too heavy, just kill them right then and put them out of their sad life.

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tstrimp    1798
Quote:
Original post by Parthon
the reason brzone spears were used is that when they hit something, like a shield, a person or the ground, they would twist, bend and lose their point and become useless to throw back. Of course romans used to carry bronze swords as well so that they could fight after they had thrown their spear. Much of the armour, weapons and shields in this time was bronze.


So they used bronze spears because the tip bent... Not because almost all of their metal weapons were made out of bronze? Spears were not just used as a thrown weapon. They were often used in melee combat as well. Why would they design it so that the tip bent and couldn't be used after they were thrown? The first time they thrust their spear into an opponents shield the weapon becomes useless?

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DJ14IVI3    100
People generally didn't throw the spears used for melee because spears and javelins need to be balanced differently. Plus, you'd be left weaponless if you threw away your spear.

Most javelins were designed so that the head breaks off, making it very hard to pull it out and thus resulting in higher casualty rates. Roman pilums, however, were primarily intended for use against opponents with shields and thus were not designed to break. Pilum was intended to lodge itself into the opponent's shield and thus make it unwieldy. The elasticity of the shaft amplified this effect and made it impossible to just break the shaft and make the shield useful again. Thus the opponents were forced to throw away their shields because you can't exactly stop and pull pilums out of your shield in a pitched battle.

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tstrimp    1798
Quote:
Original post by DJ14IVI3
People generally didn't throw the spears used for melee because spears and javelins need to be balanced differently. Plus, you'd be left weaponless if you threw away your spear.


Thats why they had their swords.

Quote:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities
The spear was used as a weapon of attack in three different ways:— 1. It was thrown from catapults and other engines [Tormentum]. 2. It was thrust forward as a pike. In this manner Achilles killed Hector by piercing him with his spear through the neck (Il. xxii.326). The Euboeans p588were particularly celebrated as pikemen (Hom. Il. ii.543). 3. It was commonly thrown by the hand. The Homeric hero generally went to the field with two spears (Hom. Il. iii.18, x.76, xii.298; Pind. Pyth. iv.139). On approaching the enemy he first threw either one spear or both, and then on coming to close quarters drew his sword (Hom. Il. iii.340, xvii.530, xx.273‑284).


Quote:
Original post by DJ14IVI3
Most javelins were designed so that the head breaks off, making it very hard to pull it out and thus resulting in higher casualty rates. Roman pilums, however, were primarily intended for use against opponents with shields and thus were not designed to break. Pilum was intended to lodge itself into the opponent's shield and thus make it unwieldy. The elasticity of the shaft amplified this effect and made it impossible to just break the shaft and make the shield useful again. Thus the opponents were forced to throw away their shields because you can't exactly stop and pull pilums out of your shield in a pitched battle.


Quote:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities
Pilum (ὑσσός), the javelin, much thicker and stronger than the Grecian lance (Flor. ii.7), as may be seen on comparing the woodcuts at pp135 and 136. Its shaft, often made of cornel (Virg. Aen. IX.698; Ovid, Met. viii.408), was •four and a half feet (three cubits) long, and the barbed iron head was of the same length, but this extended half way down the shaft, to which it was attached with extreme care, so that the whole length of the weapon was •about six feet nine inches. Each soldier carried two (Polyb. vi.23) [Exercitus, p497a]. It was used either to throw or to thrust with; it was peculiar to the Romans, and gave the name of pilani to the division of the army by which it was adopted. When Marius fought against the Cimbri, he ordered that of the two nails or pins (περόναι) by which the head was fastened to the staff, one should be of iron and the other of wood. The consequence was, that, when the pilum struck the shields of the enemy, the wooden nail broke, and as the iron head was thus bent, the spear, owing to the twist in the metal part, still held to the shield and so dragged along the ground (Plut. Mar. 25).

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DJ14IVI3    100
I stand corrected.

Still, the standard spear is badly balanced for throwing and most spearmen had no secondary weapon.
And what Marius is that last paragraph referring to? I find it hard to believe that post-Marius' reform legionnaires regularly used their pilums for thrusting. AFAIK they standardly used their large shields to get very close to opponents (thus putting enemies with long or slashing weapons at a disadvantage), bashing them with the shields and stabbing with their gladii when they got a chance.

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95CKILMA    118
i hope i can clear some things up most of the points have been covered but for the wrong reasons.

Spears have been used since time began starting with long wooden stick to stick with stone on the end. they were used in the bronze age because the small shaped head bent less and dulled less than a balde, if a blade hit armour, rock, sheild or even bone it would start to bend and form kinks not easy repaiable without reforming the weapon completly.

spears have been thrown and special devices have been found from neolithic tribes that extended the trowing capabilities, but over time a smaller move balanced javalin was formed for this specific purpose. spears once they started having metal heads tended to nose dive early in flight. the romans were the ones that really cottened on and improved on the idea of having once use javalins (not to say they wernt used before but that wasnt the main essence of a javalin)

pikes are basicly large spears, they need two hands to level them as they were so big and wernt for close combat (unlick spears), like spears they could be set up for the charge of cavalry, but also pikes were used to keep the enemy back, the hedgehog or phalanx was the used commonly for this a 10 man front rank could present easly 50+ pike heads even an enmy pike unit would have trouble.

later they were used in with archers as a defending rank to keep the enemy at range and then even more so with the onset of rifiles as they were slow loading.

spears were also the precurser to lances as said before.

as for helberds they are one of these weapons sighted as about 50 differnt weapons but most common use was for pesants to use a polarm with a blade or point and a hook similar to a large fire poker, once in a melee they would dismout mounted troups.

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tstrimp    1798
It's referring to Gaius Marius. Also, most spearmen carried side weapons since spears could break under heavy use. The greek hoplite for example carried a xiphos with them for such occasions.

It's also true that the spears may not be optimally balanced for throwing, but they were not throwing for distance records with them. They were throwing them at an enemy before drawing their sword and closing in melee which would be a relatively short distance. They would be thrown or broken when charging and enemy then they would switch to their sword. When in defensive ranks they used the spears as thrusting weapons.

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DJ14IVI3    100
Well, it all depends on the time period and region. In medieval Europe spearmen were mostly commoners that had to obtain their own equipment. Consequently few of them had swords because swords tend to be expensive. In Roman legions, on the other hand, equipment was standardised and thus every legionnaire would be equipped as you describe.
Now, I have little information, but I'm guessing that the thread author needed information on medieval Europe. I could be wrong, though.
Also, I don't think that spears broke as easily as you seem to indicate. Oakwood can take a fair bit of longitudal stress before braking, especially if the business end is held together by a spearhead.

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ishpeck    154
Quote:
Original post by tstrimp
They would be thrown or broken when charging and enemy then they would switch to their sword.



If your spears break consistently with just normal use, it's time you execute your weapon-smith as a traitor. If your spears break consistently with abnormal use, its time to execute whomever trains your troops for his treason. If your spears consistently break in any other use, its time to execute your general because he's probably the traitor.



Back on topic, this is the way I see it:
A spear consists of two pieces: The shaft and the spear-head.

A pike may or may not have a separate piece to form its head and is generally longer --- built with the intent on making cavalry stop galloping.

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Adriac    100
A spear is a shorter weapon with a small wooden shaft and a metal sharp tip used for close combat and reaching up to more effectivly attack a mounted foe

A pike is a longer spear made to hold off attackers and keep cavalry away, the row of pikes often would scare the horse away and a large jump would be necessary to clear a pike.

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95CKILMA    118
As said spears probaly wouldnt snap like a twig, exept reciving a charge by cavalry, pikes would be more suseptibal due to length.
the greater problem with thrusting weapons is getting them stuck, every tryed to get the hot meat off a kabab while your other hand is holding the plate, its not easy and you dont have a screaming sword weilding enemy in your face, F**k the spear u drop it and grag your sword.
their were variations in spears to combat this like the cross bar set just behind the head

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DarkMortar    127
This is great! These are the answers i hoped for. I did actually look those exact two articles from wiki about the spear and pike prior to posting this, but of course it made it sound too much like they are the same. Well they are the same generally, but its good that the pike is bigger and needs two hands because it will tie into my game perfectly for my classes. And the spearman can throw his weapon unlike the pikeman, but the pikeman will have more defense, and the spearman can have a shield.

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wodinoneeye    1689


Alexander (the Great) used Pike units as shock troops. He had them lightly armored so that they could move fast (often at a run) to attack and overwhelm enemy infantry units (and would be able to defend themselves from cavalry).

Romans were in the 'Iron Age' and used Iron/Steel weapons/armor (AND mass production of them).

Pikes were used later in mass formations (squares) to protect archers/crossbowmen/musketeers from cavalry and infantry. Special semi-suicide troops were armed with 6 foot swords to try to chop enough heads off of pikes to weaken a section of a pike formation to allow assault by cavalry. Later gun armed cavalry was used in a similar way to erode a section of the pike formation (usually the corners).

Cannon and massed muskets spelled the effective end of pikes (which being massed made good targets). The bayonet (on every musket/rifle) took its place.

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DarkMortar    127
i do miss the old way of battle, on a field, all lined up. has way more class than this gureilla warfare small squad shootouts like now... or errr plane droppings/cruise missles.

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wodinoneeye    1689
Quote:
Original post by DarkMortar
i do miss the old way of battle, on a field, all lined up. has way more class than this gureilla warfare small squad shootouts like now... or errr plane droppings/cruise missles.



But then others would say "I miss the days when you had single combat with swords, instead of this 'namby-pamby' gun firing stuff........

[Edited by - wodinoneeye on November 10, 2006 6:02:27 AM]

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Quote:
Original post by wodinoneeye
Quote:
Original post by DarkMortar
i do miss the old way of battle, on a field, all lined up. has way more class than this gureilla warfare small squad shootouts like now... or errr plane droppings/cruise missles.



But then others would say "I miss the days when you had single combat with swords, instead of thus 'namby-pamby' gun firing stuff........


On the other hand, in the days of old you actually had a change of survival. If a untrained civilian picked up a sword, you could incidentally injure an opponent.

Now you step outside of your house and are struck by a grenade, cluster bomb, mine, etc. Or you're shot down by a sniper, tank, highly trained marine with night goggles, etc. With other words you just don't stand a chance in present times.

So I wouldn't want to live in the past but the present offers minor chances of survival.

p.s.

I would take my chances in the Dune universe where high speed weapons are useless because a soldier can use a personal shield and this prohibits the use of laser fire since you don't want the Holtzman effect to bite you in the ass!
And instead of learning programming I would want to be a Sword Master of Ginaz

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
the spears are short "sticks" to throw at the enemy.
the advantages are that you can carry a shield in the offhand and you can draw a sword or an axe when you threw your spear away.

the romanian spears were called "pilum", they where not intended to be thrown, but to keep away the enemy from the soldiers, like in a phalanx.

quote:
a 'pike' IS a spear, the same as a lance is a spear, however not all spears are lances or pikes

- actually never heard of a lanceman :-)

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