The Mayflower transported some 102 passengers and 30 crew across the Atlantic from Plymouth, England, to the New World in 1620. Among the items these brave souls took with them on their arduous journey were some of the first firearms the world has known.
With the Atlantic crossing happening nearly 400 years ago, we don’t have an itemized manifest of what was on board, but the Pilgrim Hall Museum has made some very educated guesses. The infantry of the time was composed of pikemen and musketeers, so an assortment of both edged weapons and firearms would be carried.
Pikes would prove to not be very practical in the wooded countryside of America, as the long staves required space to maneuver. More useful would be the swords that cavalry commonly carried. Swords had evolved well past the two-handed models of Braveheart fame by the 1600s, with the more nimble rapier being in favor. Unlike the broadsword, the rapier’s stiff, sharply pointed blade was used primarily for thrusting, not cutting.