Re: Great Debate - Brown Bess Cut down or NOT - Input wanted!!

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Posted by Brent on February 03, 2000 at 13:38:06:

In Reply to: Great Debate - Brown Bess Cut down or NOT - Input wanted!! posted by Bill R on February 01, 2000 at 16:39:25:

What an interesting debate! First, let me say that I have a huge obsession with the French & Indian War, and have done a lot of reading/researching on various related topics. Currently I am a college anthropology/archaeology major, and hope to become an historical archaeologist specializing in Fench & Indian War archaeology.
In much of my reading I have seen numerous references to Rangers, Light Infantry, Provincial and Regular units using "shortened muskets". In 1759 Rogers received "special arms", several historians have speculated that these were carbines. According to Mr. Brenton Kemmer in his book Redcoats, Yankees and Allies; in 1757-58 light infantry companies of the 1st, 27th, 42nd, 44th, and 4th batt. 60th were issued French muskets which were shorter and smaller caliber. In 1759 these companies turned in these French muskets for British carbines, which had a 42" barrel in .65 caliber. It seems as though the British had a preference for shorter smaller caliber muskets in the mid. to late war period, especially for their light troops. It does seem reasonable that other Regular and Provincial units would cut down 46" barrels to 42" for the sake of uniformity. Many Provincial units were constantly trying to achieve some form of uniformity among the men in regards to clothing, arms, and other gear. In a Provincial regt. where men were paid a bounty to bring their own arms, there could be muskets ranging from 4 foot to 6 foot in length.

: All,

: For many years I have labored under the understanding that some irregular units during the F&I War and Rev War had cut down their Brown Bess to a size more suitable for dense woods warfare. Among these units I assumed the Roger's Rangers were the most notable who would/might have done so.

: I have had a long conversation with the owner of Narragansett Armes (the maker of the 250 limited edition of the Ferguson rifle) concerning some questions I had about his arms and the history of this matter. I have been convinced that perhaps this was a misconception on my part brought about by the needs of the first reenactors, misplaced common sense, and mythology.

: According to Phil Edwards of Narragansett Armes, it is a common misconception that anybody would have cut down a perfectly good (and at the time - state of the art) infantry musket when so many versions of shortened muskets were available for issue/purchase. The fact that is often quoted about cut off barrels being found at archeological digs is correct, but none of these pieces are longer than 4 inches. That would indicate a cutting down to refresh shot out barrels, not a deliberate attempt to radically shorten a musket for woods warfare.

: According to Mr Edwards, quoting various authorities on the subject such as George C. Newman, it would have been more likely that one of the several versions of cut down musket would have been used by Roger's Rangers - such as the 1744 Cavalry Carbine, the 1756 Cavalry Carbine and Artillery Muskets, the 1760 Elliot Carbine and the 1756 Light Dragoon Carbine.

: There have been two camps in the debate about this situation, and I think I have now swayed to the other camp. I would welcome any other inputs about this - (Hey! Clabair!! Hey! Mark Baker! Hey! Joe Hinson et al!!!)........

: I mention it in this forum as I have been asked by some about muskets for reenactments and more specifically about muskets for use with Roger's Rangers. Let all know that I have revised my opinion and statements on this matter, and find myself recommending the 1st Model Brown Bess of 1742 and the 1756 Light Dragoon Carbine as produced by Narragansett Armes as very suitable for use in the period of the F&I War and by those reenacting Roger's Rangers. Their turn around time is 7 months from time of order - thereabouts. My turnaround time depends on the situation at time of order, however I believe any who would obtain one from NarrArmes would be very happy with their purchase and own a very correct musket for that period.

: Any who wish to inquire as to how to contact Narrangansett Armes, or wish to inquire about my schedule for producing like arms, may contact me at the email link above.

: Any who wish to provide input on this subject are most welcome to respond in this forum - or to the same email address. I do welcome all input and opinions - yay even thirst for it!!

: Bill R

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