Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Revolutionary War weapons

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by michaelyates1, Dec 22, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. michaelyates1

    michaelyates1 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    Does anyone know what type of weapon the Maryland Militia from Frederick County Maryland would likely have used during the American Revolution?
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2012
  2. alsask

    alsask Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Messages:
    150
    Mostly the Brown Bess along with assorted civilian guns would be my guess.
     
  3. arcticap

    arcticap Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Messages:
    6,185
    Location:
    Central Connecticut
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2012
  4. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Messages:
    18,685
    Besides Brown Besses....

    Committee of Public Safety Muskets - many states responded to the threat of war by forming Committees of Public Safeties. These committees ordered muskets, most which roughly followed the Brown Bess pattern. It is believed that the Maryland Committee of Safety had "M" marked on the musket to indicate that it was property of that state (see Bill Ahearn, Muskets of the Revolution, page 149). This is not to be confused with "MB" which stood for Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Maryland Committee of Safety musket have been known to have its thumbpiece secured by a screw

    Also consider fowlers. These are smoothbore guns whose sporting nature meant they could not take bayonets. It is likely they had a wood ramrod.

    It is also possible that some Dutch muskets made it to their hands. Until ejected from New Orange (New York), the Dutch had a presence in the New World.

    Suggest you contact the Brigade of the American Revolution (reenactors), Company of Military Historians (they've got experts in every aspect of the material culture of the military), any Rev. War National Battlefield Park in Maryland or any Maryland State Battlefield Park. Historian Rangers are generally a very good source of information. They sit around bored in the winter when no one visits so they occupy themselves with research (lucky blokes).

    Recommended books include: George Neuman's Collector's Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution and Battle Weapons of the American Revolution, and Bill Ahern's Muskets of the Revolution.
     
  5. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Messages:
    17,622
    It never is a good idea to depend on long-after-the-fact paintings, but it is pretty obvious there are no civilian weapons in that picture. Everybody seems to have a musket with a bayonet and sling, presumably the Brown Bess or Brown Bess copies.

    Maryland, like the other colonies, received arms from England for the militia, and those were Brown Bess muskets, one generation removed from first line weapons. Those would not have been enough to arm all the volunteer units, but they probably were adequate to arm the front line troops.

    Much is made of the use of the long rifle, but except as a terror weapon, the rifle played little part in the Revolutionary War. In those days, just as today, military discipline and command and control won battles. Riflemen sniping from cover impacted British morale, but they did not win battles.

    Jim
     
  6. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Messages:
    18,685
    Riflemen did win battles. The biggest was the capture of Fort Sackville by George Rogers Clark. Smaller ones include King's Mountain (a bigger fight but i think Sackville had greater consequences), The Seige of Fort Granby and Fort Galpin. There is one major victory that was influenced by riflemen - Freeman's Farm (Second Saratoga).

    The rifle saw only fleeting use in the war. The First Pennsylvania was the Congressionally raised rifle regiment but they were disbanded after their term of service expired. Daniel Morgan's riflemen was raised after that but after a year's service was reduced to two companies in New York State. Those two companies were led first by Capt Posey and later Maj. Parr. After the Sullivan's Expedition they too were disbanded (7 Nov., 1779). In Jan. 1780 Washington had Parr raise another provisional battalion but they were left in New York to watch Clinton while Washington went to Virginia to confront Cornwallis.

    Still, the majority of men shouldered muskets and it was with bayonet armed musket men that the Continental Army fought the British.
     
  7. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,222
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Saw the some of the remains here of a dig at South Bound Brook NJ where a battle was fought between British and the County Militia Cos. here......was surprised to see how much buckshot was recoverd......there were some .58 Cal. Balls as well but really massive amounts of the equivilent of "O" Buck.......rough .30Cal.
    IMO....alot easier to load buckshot in civilian smoothbores of various calibers than to try and figure out ball sizes...

    Also have read some interesting accounts where muskets were actually painted different colors....some black, blue, red to match same color paint on ammo / cartridge boxes to determine caliber / cartridge size for quick identification.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  8. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Messages:
    18,685
    Buck 'n ball (one large ball, three buckshots per cartridge) was fired from muskets all the way from the French & Indian War all the way to the American Civil War.
     
  9. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,222
    Location:
    New Jersey
    That's true but not the norm......I feel seeing all the buckshot made me realize how this was a CQB situation accross the Raritan River...volley fire at close quarters would be nasty with buckshot comming from militia ranks.
    I personally load my own cartridges for my .72 Cal Flintlock Smooth Bore and I load 15 pellets of "O" buck per cartridge over 90gr. 2f for deer....I'm an ambush hunter from ground cover and have never lost an animal yet.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Messages:
    23,648
    Location:
    Los Anchorage
    The rifle absolutely played a part in the patriot forces. But the use of rifles in combat was very much in infancy with no standards developed for organization or drill. The military minds on both sides were all about massed infantry with muskets and the primacy of the bayonet charge, coupled with precise artillery work. There was no real place for riflemen in that mix, since they could not mount bayonet and were slow to reload.

    But they were certainly there, and pioneered what would become future warfare.

    A less well studied aspect was the use of fowlers and simple scatterguns in militia units. These were the cheapest of all arms and included trade guns. But they wouldn't mount bayonet and tended to fire smaller caliber ball than proper muskets. I suspect that many of the complaints about poorly-equipped units came from the predominance of scatterguns over muskets.
     
  11. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Messages:
    18,685
    During the Revolution, the British issued 1,000 Pattern 1776 rifles. These were distributed to various units including The Queen's Rangers (Simcoe's unit). Another source of riflemen for the British were their Tory loyalists. The final source of riflemen were the German Jaegers who were sent by their king (they were not mercenaries per se but to pay off their debts several German kings sent soldiers to fight on behalf of George II). The Germans were already well versed in the rifle and had specialized units (jaegers or jagers which were composed of rifle armed troops and light infantry (with muskets and bayonets).

    Rifles didn't win near universal acceptance as a military weapon until about the time of the Napoleonic Wars. By then most nations had riflemen (except the French who discarded them because Napoleon disliked rifles).
     
  12. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,730
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Lots of interesting history in this thread.
     
  13. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    Messages:
    5,810
    Location:
    Northern California
    There were no French muskets used in our Revolution? Or was that more of an 1812 thing?
     
  14. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,890
    Location:
    People's Republic of Maryland
    Folks the thread is about the Frederick County Militia. As a member of the Maryland Militia, a group that reenacts militia from Frederick County, Maryland, I can tell you that according to Maryland Archives online..., they would've been carrying 1st Model Brown Bess muskets IF they were issued arms from state arsenals.

    Otherwise, English Fowlers or rifles were in the hands of the militia. While it is true that several locations, one such was Jerusalem Mill (located in what is today, Bel Air, Maryland) produced muskets that we today call "Comittee of Safety Muskets"..., rarely would these have been delivered to the militia, as the need by regular troops was so great.

    Just for clarification, there were three "levels" of troops during the AWI.

    Militia were for the defense of the colony, and usually were not paid. Further, depending on how the colony legislated the militia, the militia could not be ordered away from the colony, and not every colony had a militia. Maryland formed a volunteer force from its militia, named it "The Flying Camp", and sent those men North to help Washington.

    State Troops were raised by some of the colonies, now "states" as they had declared independence, were uniformed like regular soldiers and equipped as well, but were paid by the states, not by Congress. Some colonies/states did not raise "state" troops.

    Regular soldiers, are full fledged soldiers enlisted into the Continental Army, and paid by Congress. Many militia men whose terms of service expired, would go on to enlist in the regular army. Joseph Plumb Martin was such a soldier, and his diary survives, and is a very popular reference work for those interested in the AWI.

    As for rifles..., Three companies of riflemen, two from Frederick County, plus one from VA, were formed and marched North to help Washington. Captain Michael Cresap commanded one of the two Maryland companies.

    The Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment was then authorized 17 June 1776 in the Continental Army and assigned to the Main Army. The Regiment was organized 27 June 1776 to consist of the three existing companies (two from Md. and one from Va.), plus two new companies to be raised in Maryland, and four new companies to be raised in Virginia.

    The new companies were organized 11-31 July 1776 in Frederick County (Thomas Beall commanding) and Harford County (Alexander Lawson Smith commanding) and the others were in Fauquier, Berkeley, Frederick, and Culpeper Counties, Virginia

    16 November 1776, New York - Two hundred fifty Virginia and Maryland riflemen and two hunderd Pennsylvania militiamen, in conjunction with 2,000 regulars, defend Fort Washington against attack by Germans serving the British, under the command of General Howe. The fort was lost, and a great portion of the combined rifle regiment was lost as well.

    The regimental organization was disbanded with the surviving Virginia portion being transferred 3 February 1777 to the 11th Virginia Regiment, and the Maryland portion provisionally reorganized in November 1776 as a single company under Captain Alexander Lawson Smith and attached to the 4th Maryland Regiment. Some sources say those soldiers that remained with the regulars were armed with muskets at that time, with their rifles, as they were personal property, were placed in storage or were sent home.

    The whole was reorganized 21 March 1779 as Rawlings' Independent Corps, to consist of three companies (one from Maryland); concurrently relieved from the Main Army and assigned to the Western Department.

    They were disbanded 1 January 1781 at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania.

    There were French muskets used during the AWI, but those would have been almost exclusively issued to regular army soldiers.

    Maryland had an armed military "presence" in the colony since the 17th century, with men paid to "Range" specific parts of the colony, looking for lost cattle, and fending off Indian incursions. As such..., Annapolis and Baltimore were locations of stored arms, and these arms were issued out to militia units as needed. They were not, however, well looked after when in storage, as some of the archive inventories report.

    LD
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  15. BigG

    BigG Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    7,081
    Location:
    Dixieland
    The first regular American issued musket was the French Charleville from which most of our technology derived.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,222
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I believe when I was at Buckman's Tavern....on the Lexington Green.....thay had one hanging on the wall there that was actually used on April 19th....the day Liberty was born.
     
  17. AlexanderA

    AlexanderA Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    2,961
    Location:
    Virginia
    The big shipments of French arms (and uniforms, etc.) came in starting in 1779. Prior to that, the American arm of choice was the Brown Bess. (The French musket was superior to the Brown Bess in several significant ways.)
     
  18. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Messages:
    23,648
    Location:
    Los Anchorage
    Folks sometimes forget that the colonies were colonies for quite a long while. So folks like Washington fought for the King in the Seven Years/F&I wars. The British army was the foundation for our own military, further improved by Prussian drill and the superlative artillery work of the French (artillery is the unsung hero of most of our wars)
     
  19. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Messages:
    18,685
    Bravo Loyalist Dave for a most informative post.

    BTW, I checked one of my books and it confirmed that the standard cartridge for the American Army was buck 'n ball. The militia on the other hand often used just buckshot. Remember every militia man was unique and used what was at hand (I know at Breed's Hill in Boston the militia fired nails and rocks when their shot gave out).
     
  20. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Messages:
    17,622
    Loyalist Dave,

    Some time ago, I acquired a .69 flint musket marked on the barrel "2d Regt B.C. MIL."

    I thought this might mean Second Regiment Baltimore County Militia, but I never had time to really research the gun. There are no other significant marks on either the lock plate or the barrel, but because of external features, I believe the gun to be of either French or Belgian origin. It is in excellent condition and I have fired it.

    Might you have any thoughts on the marking or possibly on the origin of the gun? Thanks for any help you might be able to give me.

    Jim

    (P.S. I hope it is not among those deadly military assault weapons our adorable governor plans to ban.)

    JK
     
  21. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Messages:
    18,685
    B.C. could also be Berks County.
     
  22. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Messages:
    17,622
    It could be lots of things, but because the gun was found in MD, the first thoughts were Baltimore County or Baltimore City. Plus, not many rural counties or towns would be able to raise two regiments of militia.

    Jim
     
  23. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Messages:
    18,685
    Contact Colonial Williamsburg. Their curators should know.
     
  24. rodwha

    rodwha Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,682
    Location:
    Texas
    Can you post a pic? This is way too cool!
    I'm really starting to think I need a flintlock.
     
  25. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,222
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I own many and that's all I've been hunting with for the last 22 yrs......Rifles and Smoothbores.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page