is type of European lance
that came into being after the pike
, becoming widely used by the middle of the 17th century. Spontoons are first found to have been used by the Italians. Also called the European half pike
, this very much resembled a pike that had a much shorter staff, usually no more than 7 feet long. The spontoon is remembered for being more of a signaling weapon than a polearm
of war. However in its early days it would have been used as a fighting weapon by troops before later becoming more of a symbolic item. During the Napoleonic wars the spontoon was used by sergeants to defend the colors of a battalion or regiment from cavalry. The spontoon was one of the only pole weapons that stayed in use long enough to make it into American history. As late as the 1890s the spontoon could still be seen accompanying marching soldiers.
Lewis and Clark carried regulation spontoon or "espontoon" on their expedition with the Corps of Discovery. The weapons came in handy as backup arms when the Corps traveled through brown bear country.
There were also Spontoon style axes. These used the same shaped blades mounted on the side of the weapon, and also used a shorter handle.