Grenadier wrote: I agree that the Swedish doctrine during this and the previous period was that the pike was an offensive weapon but I would hazard to say that for the the rest of Europe the pike became a strictly defensive weapon used to protect the musketeers from marauding horsemen, that is, until everyone had a socket bayonet. During this period even the offensive minded French gave up the pike as a useless emcumberment and Marlbourough finally pursuaded the Dutch to give it up in 1708.
I do not dispute that the introduction of the bayonet coincided with the downfall of the pike in most armies. My point is that pikes cannot be defined as just an anti-cavalry weapon (even in western Europe). That is a gross oversimplification and it prevents you from understanding why they were deployed in the center of the battalions instead of protecting the full width of it.
The pike was a better cold steel weapon than a musket with a bayonet, and when you wanted to charge your enemy the pikes would be more effective than bayonets. But a musket with a bayonet had the obvious benefit that it also could be used to shoot your enemy, as well as being a more than adequate cold steel weapon. Most armies during the period of 1680-1710 draw the conclusion that they had more to gain by getting more firepower than what they lost by replacing a better cold steel weapon with a lesser alternative. But this had much to do with which tactic you preferred and the Swedes obviously used their bayonets not to replace pikes and add firepower but to increase the effect of their cold steel attack.
What choice each army took was also influenced by which enemy they fought. The Swedes delayed the Russians from abandoning the pikes and actually caused the Danes to reintroduce the pikes after an absence of several decades. And if I am not mistaken the Austrians had more cold steel and body armour fighting the Turks than when they fought the French.
Info lifted from Dan Schorr's site says battalions consisted of typically 4 companies each with roughly 24 pikemen with a brace of 30 musketeers left and right which you think would give us a battalion with 4 pike blocks spread along the length. However, the next bit of information states that the company's pikes were all concentrated at the center of the battalion and that these would form a square into which the musketeers would retreat into. It is this contradiction of formation that has me scratching my head. Is there any information or manuals stating just where pikes were stationed in battle formation? It seems that every author I've read states all pikes were formed in the center which just doesn't make sense to me.
Companies were purely administrative units and did not fill any tacitical role on the battlefield, so there is no contradiction here.
There is an abundance of contemporary paintings/drawing and infantry manuals which have the pikemen concentrated in the center of the battalion. However, things might have changed at the time the pikes lost its importance in the various armies. The Russians did not concentrate their pikes in the center during the GNW, they fraised them in the first line. Concentrating the pikes in the center is in my view a clear indication that they also filled an offensive role. If you exclusively used the pikes as a defensive weapon then it would make most sence that you always spread them out throughout the entire front of the battalion (which even the aggressive Swedes did on occasion when they had to defend ground against attackers).