Re: Rifles, Tomahawks & Tactics

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Posted by George A. Bray III on January 03, 1998 at 21:10:14:

In Reply to: Re: Rifles, Tomahawks & Tactics posted by Bill Rooks on January 03, 1998 at 17:19:56:

: Victoria,

: Women were constant companions during campaigns of the 18th century. As you say, making cartridges, loading weapons, and other martial tasks as they could. And of course rolling bandages, cooking, mending and sewing, caring for the hurt and sick. Often wives accompanied their menfolk. And often, there
: were the true "camp followers" profiting from the army as camp followers have ever since Gabriel's army.

: As to shortening the F&I reenactment groups there were two schools of thought....that the Rangers cut off their muskets to shorter size to be more manageable in dense woods etc....and those who say they did not. Also two schools of thought as to browning the barrels of their muskets to cut the tell tale glare....or they did not. I personally don't know of any great deal of evidence either way. One seems common sense to us, while may not have seemed all that much common sense to those back then. Many muskets (of the trade variety) and fowling pieces were shorter in length than the Bessie. Made that way.
: But as to cutting the barrel down on a perfectly good musket so a
: woman could participate with a gun more her size....? I have not heard of such a thing.

: Bill R.

Bill and Victoria,

There is evidence for both subjects you raise concerning the cutting down of barrels and the browning of barrels. Archaeological excavations in the past at Rogers' Island, Fort Edward, NY, produced barrel ends from muskets ranging from 4 to eight inches. Some even still retained the bayonet lug that indicated that no attempt was made to replace it on the gun. This may in part explain why Amherst's orders to Rogers in 1760 stated that Rogers was to allow those who could accomodate a bayonet to take one. Also, in the Orderly Book of Alexander Monypenny, under the date May 8, 1758, is the following extract of an order: ". . . all smiths & carpenters in the garrison, those employ'd in cutting the arms excepted, to be sent directly to Capt. Ord." (The Bulletin of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, Vol. XII, No. 5, December 1969, p. 335)

The Orderly Book of Alexander Monypenny indicates under the date of Februrary 26, 1759, that "the barrells of the firelocks of the Light Infantry must all be made blue or brown, to take off the glittering." (The Bulletin of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, Vol. XIII, No. 2, June 1971, p. 170)

We also know from the Memoirs from Anne MacVickers that Lord Howe "ordered the muskets to be shortened . . . the barrels of their guns were all blackened." I don't have the exact reference to that as I don't have a copy of her memoirs readily available.

There is undoubtedly even more evidence supporting both these circumstances, but these are those that immediately come to mind to support it.

Regarding the "ten rifled barrells" that were issued in 1758, again from Moneypenny's Orderly Book, they were issued to each of the British regiments. Gages' may have received them too, but their main issue of weapon was actually a carbine which was a shorter, lighter and smaller calibered firelock. These references are also found within Monypenny's Orderly Book. We do not know precisely what form these rifles took, but suspect they may have been German Jaegers. Nonetheless, the men who were issued them were to be the best marksmen and would have been used initially in an engagement to pick off targets of opportunity and then withdraw to allow the conventionally armed troops to carry on the fight. These weapons were probably not equipped to take a bayonet, and would have taken longer to load, thus limiting the overall value of the weapon and making the possessor somewhat vulnerable.

Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant,
George A. Bray III, Site Historian

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