Two-year-old question at this point, but still... some quick bits because I was looking up something similar myself.
1) The slots are basically there to carry stuff to the smiths to sell if you're on easier difficulties.
2) As above, early on when your facesmashing power is limited (and your ability to consume cat potions every time you turn a corner is limited because of ingredients/knowledge/toxicityproblems/orens), torches are great against fireweak enemies and for visibility.
3) Tactically, the only thing the slots are good for is a small, one-handed axe with as much "shield dislodge" as you can get. It becomes rather important in chapter III and beyond when every smelly dwarf and his mother is carrying a shield with a 60-70% chance to block your blows. When your attacks get blocked, not only do you not do damage (or it's reduced to nearly nothing) but the recoil interrupts not just your chain but the rest of the attack as well. Repeatedly trying to hit that one thing with a shield and failing 6-7 times while 6-7 other things are beating on the back of your head will get you killed FAST on hard. Lot worse when 4 of the other 6-7 things have shields as well... multiple shields makes group style impossible to use because every swing will get blocked by something, and interrupt you.
Soooo... what? "Dislodge shield" makes the target permanently drop their shield. Whip out your little axe and go lumberjack on some shields, toss an Aard or two in there to keep the group away while you do it. Once enough of them are shield-less, Group Steel Blender to your heart's content, win.
That's what short weapons are for, torches early and dislodging shields later. Ignore all the other short/large weapons (unless you get really bored in Chapter III-V and feel like swatting drowners with a twohanded axe for giggles).
Eventually, you can use the Strength tree's Reaper ability (as a really powerful, armor-penetrating shield dislodger with a normal steel sword) which has a 90% dislodge... then they're all pointless and the slots are just for carrying vendor trash.