View Full Version : Some observations from history....

Dave McC
August 19, 2002, 11:48 AM
We enjoyed our vacation last week, it was a combination celebration of our 25th anniversary, my in laws' 50th, a couple of birthdays and so on.

Colonial Williamsburg and the surrounding theme parks/historical sites was the venue, and I spent as much time as possible soaking up all I could of the knowhow and facts of things associated with firearms.

And I got to handle both original and replica arms, including a number of fowlers.

As quite a few of us know,old rifles with long bbls tend to be rather muzzle heavy.This was deliberate, such are steadier to hold offhand for an aimed shot.

But, after mounting a few old smoothbores, I found that often they handle just like an upland shotgun should.

One 1750-ish gem,with minor decoration and a half round, half octagonal bbl at least a yard in length, swung marvelously. Its' minimalist stock and straight grip was way too short for me, but still mounted perfectly, using the eyes closed test. Quite a revelation.

And, most ran between 6 1/2 and 7 1/2 lbs, right where most GP shotguns fall. IOW, toting guns...

A couple of the re-enactors were REALLY into their roles, and use muzzleloaders on a regular basis for targets and hunting.One mentioned taking a gobbler with an 18 gauge flinter and homemade slate and box calls. How about that for a challenge?

A couple of these docents mentioned that most families had privately owned firearms, and many of these were smoothbores of 16 to 24 gauge. They were the guns kept over the fireplace(Driest spot in the house) loaded for whatever may show up.

These meat guns were often loaded with a combination load, one more or less bore sized ball with several smaller pistol balls added. "Buck and ball" was one of the variants used by the Continental Army in the Revolution, with 3 to 5 "Small pistol balls" added to the paper cartridge along with the 69 caliber main ball.Effect at close quarters must have been awesome.

Of course, muskets of various vintages were often used as civilian style guns, and the fellow that hunted turkey had made up a paper cartridge load for the 75 caliber British Brown Bess that was his duty arm.

As for that Bess, it weighs within an oz or so of the weight of an M-14, one of my "Serious" 870s, or an FAL. Some things just do not change....

August 19, 2002, 12:05 PM
Good things that I otherwise wouldn't know. Thanks, Dave.

Mike Irwin
August 19, 2002, 01:58 PM
Buck and ball was also a HUGE player during the American Civil War.

At the Sunken Road at Antietam Meahger's Irish Brigade took horrific casualties getting into range of the Confederate troops holding the road. Once the Irish opened up with their buck and ball-loaded muskets, though, the Confederates took horrendous casualties and had to quit the position.

Dave McC
August 19, 2002, 05:37 PM
Thanks, guys.

The Irish got to where they could enfilade the lane, Mike. From that angle, each projectile "Wrought so bloody an execution that it could scarce be believed".

BTW,GGGF Thomas McCracken,Company I,13th Pennsylvania,Meade's Division,died nearby, fighting for what he believed in.

And, an Enfield or Springfield rifled musket falls right into that weight range also.