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

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Posted by Clabert on February 04, 2000 at 08:03:39:

In Reply to: Re: Great Debate - Brown Bess Cut down or NOT - Input wanted!! posted by Bill R on February 02, 2000 at 20:04:59:

Here is a bit more.

According to Darling, Red Coat and Brown Bess, the first short land is dated
1722 (in the tower collection). The Royal Warrant adopting the short land,
new pattern, is dated 11 June 1768. Between those dates there is variety.
Seems the thrust of change was a shorter musket for the dragoons. Sea service
muskets were also part of the game. Darling states that the 42nd cut its
barrels to 42 inches in 1759 (serving in North America. "Light Infantry,
carrying fusils with 42 inch barrels, had proved extremely effective during
the Seven Year's War. (36)" Darling goes on to state that late in the war
undersized men were brought into the ranks and the shorter muskets were

In the MacKenzie Papers (Clements Library) there is a reference to the Royal
Welsh Fusiliers exercising with the new muskets c.1747. They were in the low


: Hmmm. Hey, thanks Clabert. Now you can call me a mugwamp. You know, like what Ben Franklin said....sitting on the fence with my mug on one side and my wampus on the other side. Swaying back and forth. Running between camps. A circus bear running in circles.

: I must admit I had subscribed to the "they cut them off" school and had felt that the newer arms found their way to the colonies much much later than they did to the European troops.

: Okay, I am back in your camp. Still and all, just from a practical point of view, it would kinda really tear my heart out to get a nice authentic 1st model bess made and then cut it down!
: But.....according to your sources and my gut feeling the 1762 short land pattern didnt make it here in time for the Revolution so the long land pattern was used. Of course, the Committees of Safety made copies of the Bess and they could have made them with shorter barrels...don't you think? But then Committee of Safety muskets are not Brown Bess, just copies.

: *my head is starting to hurt*

: Bill R

: : OK Bill. Here are a few comments that I recieved from a few of my friends. To this I`ld like to add that I had many phone conversations about the 1st and 2nd Model Brown Bess with the late Kit Ravenshir a few years before he passed. He worked at London Armoury for years before leaving the British Army and moving to the U.S. He serviced and restored many originals. He also said that the Long Land Pattern had a 46 inch barrel. When the 1st Model Short Land pattern came out with a 42 inch barrel, the older muskets were shortened to match. He also told me he had never found any evidence that the 1762 2nd model Bess had been issued to any troups crossing the ocean for the American Revolution. He said it was not seen here till years after the war. This would make the Italian and Japanese 2nd model repro`s incorrect for Rev War reenacting.

: : Here is what some of the others have to say;
: :
: : There was an arms shortage in the British military at the time of
: : the French and Indian War as Moller notes in AMERICAN MILITARY SHOULDER
: : ARMS VOL 1. This resulted in British purchases of Dutch and Belgian
: : manufactured arms and in requests of Provincial Governors that men joining
: : Provincial Troops bring there own civilian arms. There has been conjecture
: : by authors such as DeWitt Bailey that most of the arms in the hands of
: : north American troops were older, somewhat outdated, firelocks. Newer arms
: : were more likely reserved for service on the European continent during the
: : Seven Years War.

: : 4 inches seems abit much if all you wish to do is true up a damaged
: : muzzle. Half an inch should do that. I've heard it conjectured that the
: : barrel sections could also represent an attempt to shorten a much longer
: : civilian fowler to manageable length. This was at a lecture and I don't
: : have a citation to point anyone to. Interesting none the less.

: : Also interesting to note that 4 inches off a Long Land barrel brings
: : you to 42 inches, the lenght of a Dragoon Short Land.

: : I have not seen every doc on firelocks issued in North America. My
: : understanding is that, do to mounted troops seeing little service here,
: : mid-century Cavalry Carbines are not common finds on this continent. I'd
: : really want to see docs on how much service Elliot Carbines saw here in the
: : Seven Years War.

: : There are surviving examples of cut down "bess" of course, but when
: : and why they were cut is impossible to guess.

: : Clabert
: : ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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