Rifled muskets during the american revolution

diddyriddick

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 15, 2008
Location
NC.
I visited the Guilford Courthouse battlefield here in Greensboro this week. In one of the exhibits they discussed the difference between smoothbores and rifles. I'm just curious...does anybody have any info on how common rifled muskets were during the revolution?
 

Freddy

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Location
Worcester, MA
The major weapon of the American Revolution was the British Brown Bess, a smooth bore musket, which had an effective range of 50-100 yards. Colonial militia usually carried their own rifles, as in the Kentucky or Pennsylvania Rifle, that had an effective range of 400 yards. The French Charleville 1763 smooth bore musket was the most common weapon of the regular American Continental Army.

This link is a good source.
http://www.historycarper.com/resources/tca/chap1.htm
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
Some of the Hessins were carrying "Jaeger" rifles, a predescesor to the Baker Rifle. The US rifleman and Hessian Jaeger's heralded the effectiveness of the rifle for the British. The 95th Rifle Regiment I believe was the result.
 

tomh

Corporal
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Gettysburg, PA
Revolutionary Rifles

There was also the Ferguson Rifle, invented by British Major Patrick Ferguson and issued to "Ferguson's Rifle Corps". It was a .65 cal breechloader that utilized a screw down breech which was opened by rotating the triggerguard bow. A incredible specimen is on display in the Smithsonian "Americans at War" display in the Museum of American History.

http://americanhistory.si.edu/milit...?id=107&type=i&width=640&height=437&hideAlt=1

TomH
 

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
There were no rifled muskets in the Revolutionary War. In fact, some rifles had their rifling bored out so they were smooth bore rifles.

Muskets fired an undersized ball (loose fitting to the barrel) and was quick to load but considered by many to be inaccurate. Hence, the dense infantry formations and the reliance on linear warfare to maximize the effectiveness of shock. In reality, muskets are accurate out to 75 yards (or 100 on the figure of a standing man if the soldier practiced and benchrested his weapon). Unfortunately, most soldiers were not trained to shoot and were only drilled in loading and dry-firing. There are exceptions, but they are few.

By contrast, rifles feature a barrel that has grooves cut into it, called rifling. A fitted ball, sometimes undersized and wrapped with a greased leather patch to ensure a tight fit to the bore, is rammed down the barrel. When fired, the rifling imparts a spin to the ball (think of a gyroscope), making it fly further with greater accuracy and energy retention. It was not uncommon for a rifleman to hit a man at 200 yards, twice the distance of a musket. When laying down or resting his rifle, good riflemen were capable of hitting at 300 yards and some of the best at 400. The disadvantage of the rifle was the loading process. It was very slow. Whereas a musketman could fire miminally three rounds a minute (four or five when well drilled), the rifleman could only fire about one round a minute. This put the rifleman at a disadvantage at close range (75 yards or less). Furthermore, as most rifles were not fitted with bayonets, the rifleman could not engage in close quarter combat (forget what Hollywood showed in The Patriot) against a musket man who charged with fixed bayonet. The Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn) on the Revolutionary War illustrated this example when the Hessian infantry chased off the vaunted American rifleman (and even pinned a few to trees).

Rifled muskets are altogether a different thing. A rifled musket is musket whose bore was rifled subsequent to its production. This was done to adapt the musket to the new minie ball. By contrast, a "rifle musket" begins its life as a rifled firearm.

Joe Bilby (among many other authors) discusses this in his new book, Small Arms at Gettysburg.
 

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
The NPS actually said there were rifled muskets in the Revolutionary War? Someone needs to do some homework. Funny, I must have skipped the exhibit when I visited that battlefield.
 

diddyriddick

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 15, 2008
Location
NC.
It may have been a product of ignorance like mine on the part of the printer, but yes. Or maybe it was to simplify it for ignoramuses like me.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Near Kankakee
Note: There are rifle muskets and rifled muskets. Then there are rifles. The Pennsylvania and Jaeger Rifles never were muskets. Although there were rifles present during the Revolutionary War, there were no rifle muskets or rifled muskets. (There might of been one or two of private manufacture, but how fine do we want to split the hair?)

ole
 

John Gross

Private
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Location
Florida
While it is true that there are differences between Muskets, Rifles, Rifle-Muskets, and Rifled-Muskets, adhersion to this terminology was not even done during the Civil War in official correspondence. Modern collectors and authors rarely adhere to it either. Claude E. Fuller, who wrtote the pioneer work on the .58 caliber RIFLE-Musket, titled his book "The RIFLED-Musket". I've been collecting guns for 35+ plus years, and if I see a Model 1861 Springfield on a table that I want to inspect I simply ask "Can I look at the musket?" In all those years no seller has ever looked at me and said "Huh?"

John Gross
 

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
The marksmanship manuals of the early 20th Century were marked as musketry instructions. Adding to the confusion of the term, marksmanship schools of the early 20th Century were schools of musketry.
 

Freddy

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Location
Worcester, MA
I went to the horse's mouth, the Springfield Armory, the manufacturer of the 58. cal. rifle-musket.

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]U.S. RIFLE-MUSKET MODEL 1861 PERCUSSION .58[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Description:[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]U.S. RIFLE-MUSKET MODEL 1861 PERCUSSION .58[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Manufactured by Springfield Armory, Springfield, Ma. in 1862 - Standard Model 1861 percussion rifle-musket.[/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] The bright finish lock plate is flat, bevelled and inletted into the stock to bevel height, and is about 5-3/8 inches long by 1-1/4 inches wide. Oil finish walnut stock is 52-1/2 inches long. Barrel is 40 inches long, finished bright and rifled with 3 grooves, making one turn in 6 feet. All furniture is iron, polished bright, with three flat bands held by band springs seated in front of the bands. The upper sling swivel is riveted to the middle band; the lower swivel to the front of the triggerguard bow. The bright, swelled end, cup-tipped ramrod has a channeled swell near the end of the fore-cap, to retain the ramrod in the stock. Weapon was test fired but never issued. This is one of 645 retained in arms rack popularly referred to as "Organ." Excellent condition. Approximately 265,129 Model 1861 rifle muskets were produced at the Springfield Armory between January 1, 1861 and December 31, 1863.[/FONT]

http://www.museum.nps.gov/spar/vfpc...AR/PAGE.IDC,RECORDMAX=10,RECNO=5,WORDS=musket
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
It's probably worth looking at the M1814 & M1817 which are to my knowledge the first rifles produced for military use by a US armory. I'd have to look but IIRC both were manufactured at Harpers Ferry. But as I'm away from my resources again take a look see what Google has to say on the matter.
 

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
The .50 caliber M1803 Rifle which equipped the 1st US Rifle Regiment is considered the first rifle made by our armouries. Harper's Ferry made them. The first models had a full length wood forearm and the later models were half-stocked with an iron rib that ran up to the muzzle. Unlike the British Baker, they were not equipped to take a bayonet. The 1817 was produced by private gunsmiths for the US. The next model rifle to be produced was the Hall breechloader.
 

tomh

Corporal
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Gettysburg, PA
While it is true that there are differences between Muskets, Rifles, Rifle-Muskets, and Rifled-Muskets, adhersion to this terminology was not even done during the Civil War in official correspondence. Modern collectors and authors rarely adhere to it either.

Good point, the same goes for pistols/revolvers. In the bullet and cartridge collecting world some of us have been trying to standardize the terminology for years with no success.

...if I see a Model 1861 Springfield on a table that I want to inspect I simply ask "Can I look at the musket?" In all those years no seller has ever looked at me and said "Huh?"

Wow, a polite buyer that asks before snatching something off the table :wink:. I love the reaction when you actually ask the dealer for permission, sometimes it borders on confusion.

BTW John, any chance that you will be attending the G'Burg Fall Show this weekend?

TomH
 

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Concerning the 1803 rifle, not all riflemen in the 1st Rifle Regiment had them and I'm given to believe that some were musket armed.
 

John Gross

Private
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Location
Florida
BTW John, any chance that you will be attending the G'Burg Fall Show this weekend?

TomH

Hey Tom,

Now why would I want to leave sunny Florida and go into that nasty 55 degree weather?
nature-smiley-12.gif


While I have you, here's a response I got about permission to put magazine articles on the internet. Since it was via private email and not intended for public reading, I have "X'ed" out the name of the magazine.

"About permissions for Internet postings of articles in XXXX: As a rule, we don't do it. The reasons are many, including the fact that once something is on the 'Net, with or without attribution, it soon winds up in scads of
other places, often without attribution. It turns into copy-and-paste madness over which we have no control --- including controlling whose websites they're on. More, the easy accessibility can devalue the hard-copy magazine. Magazine sales entirely aside, we want XXXX to be a product all its own."

So, if anybody wants to read what I write/wrote, you will have to do it the old fashioned way for now.
nature-smiley-009.gif


John Gross
 

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