During Living background Week in ~ Alamance Battleground, reenactor invoice Thompson explains late eighteenth-century small arms, including just how a flintlock works and also the differences in between rifles and muskets, and also demonstrates the loading and also firing of an English “Brown Bess” musket.

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The 18th century shooting a musket

“Firing a musket: 18th-century little arms.” released by find out NC, march 9, 2015, top top YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVoyzv0ctV4. 


Fire in the hole!

Firing a musket: tiny arms in the 18th centuryWith bill ThompsonAlamance Battleground, October 15, 2008What I have in mine hand is a 75 caliber Brown Bess musket. This is in reality a world-famous instrument. 75 caliber means that hole is 3 quarters of an customs in diameter. Brown Bess is sort of favor a brand name: Ford, GM, Chrysler. This is what the British dubbed their musket.

In all these nations of Europe, their militaries provided muskets in the eighteenth century. The Spanish had actually a musket, the Dutch had actually a musket. The French dubbed their musket a Charleville. My, what a lovely surname for something made to death somebody with. The difference in between a brothers Brown Bess and a French Charleville is around the difference in between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, not enough to controversy about.

“A very basic weapon”They were all loaded and also fired the same. It’s actually a very straightforward weapon. The musket was created the military. You would literally starve to fatality if you tried come hunt with this thing. It’s not accurate; the is no made to shoot in ~ a certain target. The made come shoot in ~ mass troops, linear tactics. Us get human being that come out here all the moment that think, exactly how stupid; obtain out in an open up field, wake up shoulder come shoulder, and also shoot at each other! What you have to understand…this thing is do to be loaded and also fired as rapidly as possible. You don’t aim it, you just allude it. The adversary is end there; a remote man could use this, just point towards the noise. Trained soldiers in the British army were expected to be able to fire this thing four times a minute, that’s fairly a the majority of fire power. And the object was to continue to breakthrough upon the enemy, until it to be time to it is in able to connect the bayonets.

In the eighteenth century, battles ended in hand-to-hand combat. So, the bayonet, together you can see, basically turns the musket into a spear. If you could just imagine gift stabbed with that, or her brains dashed out through the other end, it gets pretty nasty. That’s around as gruesome together we gain with a bunch of small kids.

“The most savage hand-to-hand combat”There were almost three thousand of the Regulators camped on the hill behind me. Snapshot in your mind all the horses and also tents and fires. Branch Tryon had about a thousand men in his militia, and also he brought eight cannons, comparable to our three-pound field piece down there. We don’t think that any type of hand-to-hand combat took place below at the battle of Alamance. This were every amateurs; there to be no expert soldiers here. But nearby Guilford Courthouse, National army Park, about sixteen mile from here, the was said to be several of the many savage hand-to-hand combat of the whole American Revolution, therefore you may want to walk over there someday.

“Not lot use top top a farm”The musket, together I said, is fairly simple. That heavy; this weighs ten pounds. If girlfriend drop it, there space no vulnerable sights come knock the end of alignment, prefer a rifle. If friend hit someone upside the head v it, the just thing that’s going to hurt girlfriend is the head. The rough, it’s tough.

They did have actually rifles in the eighteenth century, and I’m betting most of the Regulators, being farmers, coming from home, had rifles, because a musket is not much use on a farm. A rifle is made come hit a specific target. I’m no aiming at y’all, i’m aiming at you. It’s gained rifling reduced into the barrel that renders the bullet spin together it flies with the air, like a quarterback throw a touchdown pass. That spin provides the cartridge fly straight.

A rifle also has sights, one in the front, one in the back. And also the gunsmith who made it invested hours very closely lining increase those sights so the you’ve acquired something to in reality aim at the target. The takes skill to hit something with a rifle. You don’t just suggest it; you’ve obtained to literally target at the target. You’ve got to line up the target, the prior sight, the rear sight, and your pupil.

“Any man recorded with a rifle would certainly be hung”As large as that hole is, the musket actually shoots a cartridge that’s smaller than the barrel. I can load this thing literally this quickly; wham, bam. Yes sir no resistance. However, yet if you’ve got, say, a 50-caliber rifle, the bullet and the boring are exactly the very same size. It is a tight fit, isn’t it? somebody say yeah. Alright. You’ve gained to placed grease top top it and also shove the from there to there. It is a long ways.

It takes 2 or three minutes to fill a flintlock rifle, as opposed to, say, eight secs for a musket. If she trying come shoot a squirrel out of that tree, you’ve got all the time in the world. If you out here in a wild battle, two or three minutes is a lengthy time. So the rifle to be for hunting, the musket to be for fighting.

However, during this battle, and during the American Revolution, together I’ve stated earlier, a most these farmers were bringing their hunting rifles through them. If you can’t get but one shot off in 2 minutes, you’re walk to do it count. Friend shoot in ~ the officer, friend shoot in ~ the medic. So the British obtained pretty mad around this. They placed out words that any kind of man recorded with a rifle would be hung.

“How a flintlock works”All the guns in the eighteenth century were flintlocks. You view that flint ideal there? That’s basically a kind of rock. That’s the most important component on the gun. If this flint breaks, if it drops out, if it gets dull, the gun can’t be fired till the flint is replaced. Yes a flashpan here. In the case of the musket, you’re getting ready to fire it, friend reach into the cartridge box, and also if girlfriend went v that plenty of rounds, you were in one heck of a battle. It is twenty-seven the them. This file tube to be made by the soldiers they to be sitting about at camp. The bullet would be in ~ the bottom. Ns don’t have a cartridge in here. They nothing let me play v live ammunition. And then it’s acquired 125 grains of black powder in there. What shade is black color powder? You kids are sharp. And also it’s every rolled up in this rather tough paper.

Now, I’ve obtained this ten-pound total in one hand, how am i going come rip this open? Right, v your teeth, she going come bite it open and also prime it. Watch this flashpan here? Alright. Young lady, come forward. Look under in there and tell the class that there is a hole under there dubbed the bin, drilled right into the next of the barrel. That connects those going top top out below in the flashpan with what’s going on inside the barrel. Ns going to tear this open and pour a tiny amount that the black color powder in the flashpan, shut the pan. This is called a muzzle-loader. You pack it down the muzzle. The remainder of the flour is poured under the barrel, adhered to by the bullet. And don’t acquire that backwards. If you put the cartridge in an initial and dump the powder on optimal of it, you’ve obtained a mess. And also the record acts as a kind of wadding. You put it in, pull the rammer out, and again, shove it into the bottom of the barrel.

Don’t forget to placed your rammer back in. If friend shoot her rammer out, you’re out of business. Giggles. Currently you think that’s funny. Friend would execute the very same thing, if you to be scared to death, if this to be your first battle. If you ever before go to a fight reenacment, like they carry out at Guilford Court House, you’ll an alert we make them take it the rammers out. They’re simply shooting, dumping powder. It is to keep somebody from getting lugged away and also killing somebody. The rammer would be a bullet, flying down the range.

“Fire in the hole!”What ns going come do now is load and also fire this. Together you have the right to see, black powder is an extremely dirty stuff. This musket has been fired several times. You may gain to view a misfire. In fact, girlfriend may gain to see number of misfires. The various other day, I virtually busted this thing on the tree appropriate there, I acquired so aggravated. The dirtier the gets, the harder the is to gain it to fire. We want you to know that your enemy was having actually misfires in ~ the same rate you were. That was another great reason for having actually a bayonet, a tomahawk, a knife, some kind of backup. Alright, cross her fingers. Fire in the hole! thank you.

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“…But I’m not a professional soldier.”Okay, together you saw, ns did the in about five seconds. I probably might have excellent it a tiny faster if I’d wanted to, but I’m no a skilled soldier. The brothers Redcoats (and there to be no Redcoats here), however during the revolution, were literally robots that had actually been trained and trained and also trained to perform this. They can get off a tremendous price of firepower.