not 100% gun related but why does one 'scour a hatchet'?


January 17, 2013, 01:11 PM
From the standing orders of Rodger's Rangers

'Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, 60 rounds powder and ball and be ready to march at a minute's warning. '

Maybe you just scour the edges ...

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Blue Line
January 17, 2013, 01:20 PM
I believe it means to have it cleaned up, sharpened, ready to go.

F-111 John
January 17, 2013, 01:25 PM
You don't want to inflict Teatnus on your enemies when you cut them with a rusty hatchet.

Fred Fuller
January 17, 2013, 03:57 PM
IIRC it means polish - often with sand or whatever other abrasive was available, to remove rust etc.

Back in the bad old days, steel weapons (especially some military weapons) were left 'in the white,' or not browned/blued or otherwise finished. They were basically polished - burnished, or 'scoured' as you put it.

January 17, 2013, 05:43 PM
^^^This. The old usage of the term is where we got "scouring pads" from; anyone who remembers cast iron skillets and campfires remembers the joy of scouring pads.

January 17, 2013, 07:15 PM
Yep, scoured clean and rough polished.

January 17, 2013, 08:46 PM
I think the ancient Romans used to polish weapons & armor with a mixture of sand & vinegar. The might have used the same mix in colonial times.

January 17, 2013, 08:55 PM
yep just adding so I can say I new too :)

January 17, 2013, 09:02 PM
Historically speaking, a "scoured" weapon (cleaned and at least slightly polished) was easier to inspect for flaws (you wouldn't want your blade to break in battle) and was also easier to withdraw from your enemy once it had been used.

January 18, 2013, 12:16 PM
Bluing won't help anything made of carbon steel when you are exposed to months of outdoors use. Standing in the rain on guard duty during the spring rains was no joy. You had to scour your hatchet regularly to prevent it leaving huge rust stains on your clothing when tucked into your belt. Not everyone kept it in a nice sheath, and that sheath when wet was no help, either.

Keeping the hatchet clean and polished also meant it was easier to use, and wouldn't contaminate foodstuffs - like quartering livestock or a deer. Certain cuts are called "chops" for a reason. Butchers use saws now, but cleavers then, and an outdoorsman, a hatchet. It's what he had, using a clasp knife or hunting blade would break it. They understood you didn't do the stuff we see fanboys on youtube do. They didn't need to, either - they had a hatchet for that work.

Since there would be no room or source for anything like Brasso or polish, the next best thing was Mother Earth. You use the sand and dirt under your feet, plenty of it. The finer the better, but whatever, it needs to be done regardless. Since groups of men usually traveled near water in the early days, there were sources at hand to wash things off once done. Check some of those other early day rules, like "coffee tastes better when the latrines are dug downstream from the encampment."

Placed in context, things start making sense.

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