During Living background Week in ~ Alamance Battleground, reenactor bill Thompson explains late eighteenth-century tiny arms, including exactly how a flintlock works and the differences 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 tiny arms.” released by discover NC, march 9, 2015, on 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 my hand is a 75 caliber Brown Bess musket. This is actually a world-famous instrument. 75 caliber way that feet is 3 quarters the an inch in diameter. Brown Bess is sort of favor a brand name: Ford, GM, Chrysler. This is what the British called their musket.

In every these nations of Europe, your militaries offered muskets in the eighteenth century. The Spanish had a musket, the Dutch had a musket. The French called their musket a Charleville. My, what a lovely name for something make to death somebody with. The difference in between a brother Brown Bess and a French Charleville is about the difference between Coca-Cola and also Pepsi, not enough to controversy about.

“A very an easy weapon”They were all loaded and also fired the same. It’s actually a very an easy weapon. The musket was made for the military. You would certainly literally starve to fatality if girlfriend tried come hunt through this thing. It’s not accurate; that is not made to shoot in ~ a certain target. That made come shoot at mass troops, linear tactics. Us get human being that come out below all the moment that think, exactly how stupid; get out in an open field, stand up shoulder come shoulder, and shoot at each other! What you have to understand…this thing is made to it is in loaded and fired as promptly as possible. You nothing aim it, girlfriend just point it. The opponent is end there; a blind man can use this, just suggest towards the noise. Trained soldiers in the British army were expected to be able to fire this thing 4 times a minute, that’s rather a the majority of fire power. And also the object to be to continue to advancement upon the enemy, until it to be time to be able to attach the bayonets.

In the eighteenth century, battles finished in hand-to-hand combat. So, the bayonet, as you can see, basically transforms the musket into a spear. If you can just imagine being stabbed v that, or your brains dashed out v the other end, it it s okay pretty nasty. That’s about as gruesome together we obtain with a bunch of tiny kids.

“The most savage hand-to-hand combat”There were nearly three thousand of the Regulators camped on the hill behind me. Picture in your mind all the horses and also tents and fires. Branch Tryon had about a thousand males in his militia, and he brought eight cannons, similar to our three-pound field piece under there. Us don’t think that any hand-to-hand combat take it place below at the fight of Alamance. This were every amateurs; there were no skilled soldiers here. But surrounding Guilford Courthouse, National armed forces Park, around sixteen miles from here, the was stated to be few of the most savage hand-to-hand combat the the entire American Revolution, so you might want to walk over there someday.

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

They did have rifles in the eighteenth century, and I’m betting most of the Regulators, gift farmers, coming from home, had rifles, since a musket is not lot use ~ above a farm. A rifle is made to hit a certain target. I’m no aiming in ~ y’all, i’m aiming in ~ you. It’s obtained rifling cut into the barrel that makes the bullet spin as it flies through the air, favor a quarterback throw a touchdown pass. The spin provides the bullet fly straight.

A rifle likewise has sights, one in the front, one in the back. And also the gunsmith that made it spent hours carefully lining increase those sights so that you’ve gained something to in reality aim in ~ the target. The takes skill to hit something v a rifle. You don’t just point it; you’ve acquired to literally target at the target. You’ve acquired to line up the target, the prior sight, the rear sight, and also your pupil.

“Any man caught with a rifle would certainly be hung”As big as the hole is, the musket in reality shoots a bullet that’s smaller than the barrel. I can load this thing literally this quickly; wham, bam. Yes sir no resistance. However, however if did you do it got, say, a 50-caliber rifle, the bullet and the boring are precisely the same size. It is a tight fit, isn’t it? somebody say yeah. Alright. You’ve acquired to put grease ~ above it and shove the from there to there. It is a lengthy ways.

It takes two or 3 minutes to load a flintlock rifle, as opposed to, say, eight secs for a musket. If you trying to shoot a squirrel out of that tree, you’ve acquired all the time in the world. If she out right here in a wild battle, two or three minutes is a lengthy time. For this reason 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 many these farmers were bringing their searching rifles through them. If you can not get but one shot off in two minutes, you’re walking to do it count. You shoot at the officer, girlfriend shoot in ~ the medic. Therefore the British got pretty mad about this. They placed out words that any man captured with a rifle would be hung.

“How a flintlock works”All the weapons in the eighteenth century were flintlocks. You see that flint ideal there? That’s usually a kind of rock. It is the most important component on the gun. If this flint breaks, if it drops out, if it it s okay dull, the gun can not be fired until the flint is replaced. Yes sir a flashpan here. In the case of the musket, you’re acquiring ready to fire it, girlfriend reach into the cartridge box, and if you went through that numerous rounds, you were in one heck of a battle. That’s twenty-seven of them. This document tube was made by the soldiers they to be sitting about at camp. The bullet would certainly be in ~ the bottom. I don’t have actually a cartridge in here. They don’t let me play v live ammunition. And then it’s got 125 seed of black color powder in there. What shade is black powder? You kids are sharp. And also it’s every rolled increase in this rather tough paper.

Now, I’ve got this ten-pound pistol in one hand, exactly how am i going come rip this open? Right, through your teeth, you going to bite that open and also prime it. Watch this flashpan here? Alright. Young lady, come forward. Look down in there and also tell the course that there is a hole down there dubbed the bin, drilled into the side of the barrel. The connects what’s going ~ above out right here in the flashpan v what’s going on within the barrel. Ns going to tear this open and pour a tiny amount the 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, followed by the bullet. And don’t acquire that backwards. If you put the bullet in very first and dump the powder on height of it, you’ve acquired a mess. And also the document acts as a type of wadding. You put it in, pull the rammer out, and also again, shove it into the bottom that the barrel.

Don’t forget to put your rammer ago in. If girlfriend shoot your rammer out, you’re out of business. Giggles. Currently you think it is funny. Girlfriend would carry out the same thing, if you to be scared come death, if this to be your first battle. If you ever before go to a fight reenacment, prefer they execute at Guilford Court House, you’ll an alert we do them take the rammers out. They’re simply shooting, dumping powder. It is to save somebody native getting brought away and also killing somebody. That rammer would certainly be a bullet, flying down the range.

“Fire in the hole!”What ns going come do currently is load and also fire this. As you have the right to see, black color powder is an extremely dirty stuff. This musket has actually been fired number of times. You may get to see a misfire. In fact, friend may obtain to see number of misfires. The various other day, I nearly busted this point on that tree right there, I acquired so aggravated. The dirtier it gets, the harder that is to acquire it to fire. We desire you to know that your foe was having actually misfires in ~ the same price you were. That was another great reason for having a bayonet, a tomahawk, a knife, some kind of backup. Alright, cross her fingers. Fire in the hole! say thanks to you.

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“…But I’m no a expert soldier.”Okay, as you saw, ns did the in about five seconds. I probably might have excellent it a little faster if I’d want to, however I’m not a professional soldier. The british Redcoats (and there were no Redcoats here), yet during the revolution, were literally robots that had been trained and trained and also trained to do this. They could get turn off a tremendous price of firepower.