This one thing that I've been wondering for years.
I remember 4 years ago, the History Channel showed an Episode on their TV Series "Human Weapon" which showcases various martial arts around the world. This episode I speak of went over MCMAP, the Hand-to-Hand system of the United States Marine Corps.
During the episode, there was one instance where they speak of Marines being pinned under fire in some third world country. After prolonged exposure to enemy fire and being stuck in the same position, the Marines finally got fed up and equipped bayonets in on their guns and charged out to their attackers.Despite such an insane tactic, the enemy that was pinning them (who were armed with automatic machine guns) abandoned their suppression and fled from the area out of fear..Granted these were poorly-trained third world armies but still.,,,,,,,
I read of in Napoleonic Warfare that entire units and even whole armies would literally abandon their formation and flee the battlefield out of fear when men charged with Bayonets. I read this was a comment tactic of Napoleon and to people's surprise it worked so well against other armies. Only the MOST DISCIPLINED and DEVOTED like the British army was able to with stand this charge without collapsing and it would be late in the War when European nations finally realized Napoleon CAN be beaten that this tactic lost its effectiveness.
Even in World War 2 I read of PROFESSIONAL and WELL-TRAINED American soldiers literally abandoning their position out of fear when the Japanese would commit their Banzai Charges.
The first battle in The Red Badge of Courage portrays this perfectly when the protagonist ran away as the Confederate Army charged despite the fact he hadn't even fired several shots yet and the Confederates were still distance away.
How and why would a Bayonet Charge be so terrifying even in this modern age?I mean when kids today hear of this, they would go all like "you have a gun-shoot the motherfucker with it as he runs at you!!!!" and indeed playing a video game would lead you to believe its so easy to fire at hordes of men charging at you to hit you with a bayonet or other melee weapon.