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A bayonet is a knife, dagger, or other blade attached to a firearm, typically a rifle (or musket prior to about the 1850s), allowing the weapon to be used as a spear in close combat. Bayonets were first designed in the 1600s, supposedly by militia from the area around the town of Bayonne, France (the root of the name bayonet), who inserted knives into the barrels of their guns, using them a plug bayonets. By the 1700s, bayonets the could be attached without blocking the barrel of the gun were developed, and were often deployed in massed bayonet charges, typically preceded by musket volleys. During the 1700s, the predominate bayonet design was that of a simple spike bayonet, however, by the 1800s, sword bayonets that could, as the name suggested, double as short sword, were developed. Use of the bayonet became less common around the time of the American Civil War, with the replacement of smoothbore muskets with more accurate rifles, allowing soldiers to pick off charging enemies more accurately, and during World War I, bayonet charges were rendered practically obsolete in most circumstances due to the rapid fire capabilities of the machine gun, which could easily mow down formations of charging soldiers. The bayonet, however remained in existence into World War II, though bayonet charges were rare among US troops, Allied, and German forces, only being widely used by the Japanese, in their infamous "banzai charges". The last bayonet charge of the US army took place during the Korean War, although British forces, particularly Highlander units, have used bayonet charges as recently as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bayonets, however, are still issued in most armies, where they typically are "knife bayonets"- shorter than sword bayonets, but can be used detached and double as a combat and utility knife.

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