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Rifle Question

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  • umfspock87@cs.com
    Dear List, I m not very familiar with how rifles became part of the American army, but have long assumed that, for the most part, rifles were individual
    Message 1 of 21 , Jan 2, 2004
      Dear List,

      I'm not very familiar with how rifles became part of the American army, but
      have long assumed that, for the most part, rifles were individual weapons,
      brought to the army by the soldiers themselves. Does anyone know if rifles were
      actually issued to the men.

      The only case of this I've seen is when Morgan's Rifle Corps was formed and
      an order went out calling for "public" rifles to be handed over for the corps.
      ( So I guess there's one example of at least some of the rifles being
      government issued weapons huh? ) But does anyone have anymore info on this.

      The reason I ask is this. I've got a letter from an officer in Daniel
      Morgan's 11th Virginia ( which has long been believed to be a rifle regiment ) in
      which he says, on March 6th 1777:

      "…I have the honor of informing your Excellency of my Arrival in this City
      with the first Company of our Regiment, two Companies more being on their March
      and hourly expected, those men, who are in Town are under Inoculation and
      recovering fast, as soon as they can be cloathed and arm'd, I shall march them to
      Camp."

      Now, the part of this note that I find very interesting is the last part that
      says,

      "...as soon as they can be cloathed and ARM'D..."

      This suggests to me that, ( some of the men at least ) arrived in PA without
      arms. And that leads me to this question:

      If Lt. Col. Febiger is waiting for his men to be arm'd, what weapons is he
      likely to receive from the public stores. I'm betting muskets myself. But I'd
      like the take of the list on this.

      Your Humble Servant,

      Mike Cecere 3rd & 7th VA


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Hugh T. Harrington
      Some rifles were privately owned; either by the riflemen or purchased for them. There were however contracts to rifle makers to make rifles for the riflemen;
      Message 2 of 21 , Jan 2, 2004
        Some rifles were privately owned; either by the riflemen or purchased for
        them. There were however contracts to rifle makers to make rifles for the
        riflemen; but it was a slowish process to make a rifle and mold to go with
        it. The man would unlikely be issued a musket if the others in his unit
        were riflemen - he would be useless at longer range.

        You can check the GW papers - search under "rifle" (also "riffle" as
        spelling is varied). I'm sure you'll see rifles being ordered. It's been
        several yeas since I looked into this but I believe this to be a source.

        Hugh

        At 01:03 PM 1/2/2004 -0500, you wrote:
        >Dear List,
        >
        >I'm not very familiar with how rifles became part of the American army, but
        >have long assumed that, for the most part, rifles were individual weapons,
        >brought to the army by the soldiers themselves. Does anyone know if
        >rifles were
        >actually issued to the men.
      • Joseph Ruckman
        Hey Mike, ... Lots and lots of conjecture and assumptions, but I don t know if anyone has actually researched that aspect of it in great detail. I do know
        Message 3 of 21 , Jan 2, 2004
          Hey Mike,

          > Does anyone know if rifles were actually issued to the men.

          Lots and lots of conjecture and assumptions, but I don't know if
          anyone has actually researched that aspect of it in great detail. I
          do know that there were "contract rifles" made, presumably by order
          of Congress, at the Rappahannock Forge in Fredericksburg, VA. These
          would have been issued.

          However, something I'd like to throw out to the list: when a man
          reported with his own rifle, it was inspected by an officer and
          approved for use, whereupon the man was paid a bounty. It is my
          belief that the bounty was in effect purchasing the rifle and making
          it property of either the State or the Continental Army, whoever was
          paying the bounty. I do know there were instances where rifles were
          taken away from riflemen and placed in public store to be reissued
          to others at a later date, but that's really all I have to go on.

          For rifles used by the British Army, get a copy of Dr. De Witt
          Bailey's "British Military Flintlock Rifles: 1740-1840." The date
          is correct - rifles were in use by the British Army as early as the
          1740s. I've known for some time that Braddock had a number of them
          with him in 1755, but Bailey traces the origin of the rifles
          Braddock used as well as a couple types of contract rifles used by
          the British in the AWI. These rifles were used by British soldiers,
          not by Germans serving the British. This book was a real eye-opener
          for me and busts a few myths that I myself have been guilty of
          perpetuating.

          Regards,

          Joseph Ruckman
        • umfspock87@cs.com
          Dear List, Don s question about rifle ball caliber has prompted another question that I have wondered about for awhile but am a bit embarrased to ask. You
          Message 4 of 21 , Jan 22, 2006
            Dear List,

            Don's question about rifle ball caliber has prompted another question that I have wondered about for awhile but am a bit embarrased to ask. You see, I've only live fired my Brown Bess musket once and have very little other experience with modern weapons...so I'm not at all knowledgable about such things.

            My question is this...Would a riflemen use more powder for a 300 yard shot as compared to a 100 yard shot? Would the amount of powder used impact the velocity or trajectory of the projectile?

            Thanks,

            Mike Cecere 3rd & 7th VA
          • rgrokelley
            Howdy, ... yard shot as compared to a 100 yard shot? Would the amount of powder used impact the velocity or trajectory of the projectile? I ve fired a
            Message 5 of 21 , Jan 22, 2006
              Howdy,

              > My question is this...Would a riflemen use more powder for a 300
              yard shot as compared to a 100 yard shot? Would the amount of powder
              used impact the velocity or trajectory of the projectile?

              I've fired a flintlock rifle at 300 yards on a modern range. I've
              also fired my Sharps Rifle (50-140) at 1,000 yards, just to see what
              it does. I figure why have the thing, if you don't shoot it live and
              see what it can do.
              When I fired my .58 caliber rifle at the 300 yard range I used the
              same amount of powder. All I did was elevate the heck out of it. I
              was firing at a huge paper target (at what folks in the army call a
              KD range), and though I didn't hit the bullseye, I did hit the
              paper. The paper was about the size of a piece of a half a piece of
              plywood.

              Patrick O'Kelley http://www.2nc.org/
              Author of "Nothing but Blood and Slaughter" The Revolutionary War in
              the Carolinas
              Available at Volume One 1771-1779
              http://www.booklocker.com/books/1469.html
              Volume Two 1780
              http://www.booklocker.com/books/1707.html
              Volume Three 1781
              http://www.booklocker.com/books/1965.html
            • Hugh Harrington
              Mike, For best accuracy the ball, patch, powder combination has to be tried by trial and error until the best accuracy is obtained. However, this level of
              Message 6 of 21 , Jan 22, 2006
                Mike,

                For best accuracy the ball, patch, powder combination has to
                be tried by trial and error until the best accuracy is obtained.
                However, this level of accuracy may not be at the velocity that will be
                the "best" to carry for over 100 yards for example. A round ball loses
                velocity quickly so say 1800 fps muzzle velocity will slow very quickly
                after 100 yards. So, the rifleman may use more powder to get higher
                velocity and sacrafice some accuracy to do so. At long distances with a
                round ball you must have high velocity due to the huge drop of the ball.

                Also, don't buy the old legends of guys shooting mice at 300
                yards, etc. A rifle may hit a man sized target at 300 yards but it will
                require a good deal of holding over due to the ball dropping well below
                the point of aim for any "target accuracy."

                Hugh Harrington

                -----Original Message-----
                From: Revlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Revlist@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                Of umfspock87@...
                Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2006 8:14 PM
                To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [Revlist] Rifle Question


                Dear List,

                Don's question about rifle ball caliber has prompted another question
                that I have wondered about for awhile but am a bit embarrased to ask.
                You see, I've only live fired my Brown Bess musket once and have very
                little other experience with modern weapons...so I'm not at all
                knowledgable about such things.

                My question is this...Would a riflemen use more powder for a 300 yard
                shot as compared to a 100 yard shot? Would the amount of powder used
                impact the velocity or trajectory of the projectile?

                Thanks,

                Mike Cecere 3rd & 7th VA




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                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Anthony Seo
                ... Well there is a maximum amount of powder that will get burned regardless of the size of the charge. How much that is for any given gun, is something of a
                Message 7 of 21 , Jan 22, 2006
                  At 08:14 PM 1/22/06, you wrote:

                  >My question is this...Would a riflemen use more powder for a 300
                  >yard shot as compared to a 100 yard shot? Would the amount of
                  >powder used impact the velocity or trajectory of the projectile?

                  Well there is a maximum amount of powder that will get burned
                  regardless of the size of the charge. How much that is for any given
                  gun, is something of a trial and error process. The rule of thumb as
                  a starting load is 1 1/2 times your caliber in grains (45 would be 67
                  grains, .62 would be 93 grains). Of course once you get around 50
                  caliber, that is sort of the cross over point for using 2F instead of
                  3F. There the rule of thumb is, if you are using 3F in a larger
                  bore, to reduce the load by 15% to compensate for the fact that 3F
                  burns faster. Got all that right?

                  For my 45 caliber rifle, under normal shooting conditions I use 60
                  grains of 3F (same bag and horn for both guns). I have bumped it up
                  to 90 grains, to see if there was much difference, which there was as
                  far as kick and noise (let's not even get to accuracy). When I was
                  first shooting this rifle it was winter time and I could see the
                  trail of unburned powder from the larger charges. Never got around
                  to figuring exactly what was optimal, seeing as I can barely see the
                  target at 100 yards (even with glasses) much less hit it.

                  Plus we are talking modern powders which are more evenly grained as
                  opposed to 18th Century powders which weren't as consistent.

                  I get a kick out of the locals here with their 1/2 stock Thompson
                  Center guns, "58 caliber and I'm running 200 grains of 2F, cause I
                  want to make sure that I get a good hit". Well I try to tell them
                  that they are probably blowing 80 or so grains of that out unburned,
                  but that's like trying to teach a pig to sing...

                  300 yards, geez, I figure best to let them run at me for at least 200
                  of them, they will be slowing down and easier to hit......

                  Tony



                  -------------------------------------------------------------------

                  My Historical Trekking Page
                  http://trekking.oldetoolshop.com/
                • Cliff Mullen
                  ... yard shot as compared to a 100 yard shot? Would the amount of powder used impact the velocity or trajectory of the projectile? ... Mike, There are several
                  Message 8 of 21 , Jan 22, 2006
                    > My question is this...Would a riflemen use more powder for a 300
                    yard shot as compared to a 100 yard shot? Would the amount of powder
                    used impact the velocity or trajectory of the projectile?
                    >
                    > Thanks,
                    >
                    > Mike Cecere 3rd & 7th VA
                    >

                    Mike,

                    There are several factors that influence this.

                    First being that the powder burns at a relatively uniform rate and the
                    ball is going to be in the barrel accelerating in front of the
                    expanding gas only so long, you eventually get to the point where
                    excess powder just blows out the muzzle. Added to that is once you get
                    a soft lead ball going much past 1,800 feet per second muzzle
                    velocity, there is the possibility of stipping the ball, in other
                    words it is going too fast for the twist of the rifling and will shere
                    off material and lose the rifling and therefore lose any accuracy. Two
                    upward limits.

                    Round ball has a horrible aerodynamic efficiency, it will lose roughly
                    26% of its velocity for every 50 yards of flight (this is an
                    average... more or less). Gravity also enters the play here; once the
                    ball leaves the muzzle it starts dropping from its angle of departure
                    at the same rate as the same ball just dropped from the hand. The
                    faster the ball is going when it leaves the muzzle, the farther it
                    will travel before dropping a given distance. The farther you want the
                    round to go the higher the angle of departure relative to the line of
                    aim has to be to create the trajectory to have your ball 'fall' where
                    you want it to.

                    There are some real sexy algebraic formulas to go along with this but
                    the simple answer is that a rifleman who knows piece VERY well could
                    change his powder charge with changing ranges. It is a better
                    technique in my opinion to start with the reccommended charge for the
                    weapon and experiment with the accuracy at differning ranges (after
                    all that deer or that Brit might be at a wholly different range by the
                    time you get done loading). The best way is to take your piece out and
                    shoot it, a lot. Start at 25 or 50 yards and fire until you achieve a
                    consistant group, learning where it is printing on the target relative
                    to your point of aim. Then increase the distance, and have fun
                    learning where to adjust your aim so that the point of impact and the
                    point of aim are the same. A great way to spend an afternoon.

                    Cliff Mullen
                    Serjeant, 1st Company
                    Warner's Regiment

                    AKA

                    1SG Clifford Mullen
                    Hawkeye 7
                    Put the Vermonters Ahead
                  • Woolsey, David
                    Mike, The short answer is one shoots an accurate load, that will take the deer or the buffalo, and learns to hit a target at short range as well as long, with
                    Message 9 of 21 , Jan 22, 2006
                      Mike,
                      The short answer is one shoots an accurate load, that will take the deer or the buffalo, and learns to hit a target at short range as well as long, with that same load. One had no idea at what range one would be engaging the enemy, so probably couldn't change loads, and probably had a fixed measure for the above mentioned load.

                      YOHS

                      Dave Woolsey

                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: Revlist@yahoogroups.com on behalf of umfspock87@...
                      Sent: Sun 1/22/2006 8:14 PM
                      To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
                      Cc:
                      Subject: [Revlist] Rifle Question



                      Dear List,

                      Don's question about rifle ball caliber has prompted another question that I have wondered about for awhile but am a bit embarrased to ask. You see, I've only live fired my Brown Bess musket once and have very little other experience with modern weapons...so I'm not at all knowledgable about such things.

                      My question is this...Would a riflemen use more powder for a 300 yard shot as compared to a 100 yard shot? Would the amount of powder used impact the velocity or trajectory of the projectile?

                      Thanks,

                      Mike Cecere 3rd & 7th VA




                      Visit the RevList Homepage, which includes a list of sutlers, RevList member photos, FAQ, etc., at

                      http://www.liming.org/revlist/

                      TO UNSUBSCRIBE: please send a message to
                      Revlist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                      with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
                      Yahoo! Groups Links










                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • battelh2000
                      Hi, I am looking for some information on the comparison of Brown Bess and the Kentucky Long Rifle. Which weapon was more accurate, and had the greater range?
                      Message 10 of 21 , Apr 27 7:32 AM
                        Hi,

                        I am looking for some information on the comparison of Brown Bess and the Kentucky Long Rifle.

                        Which weapon was more accurate, and had the greater range?
                        Could the rounds be used in both weapons?
                        During the Revolutionary War, was the diameter of the barrels similar, or differ greatly that didn't permit the ammo to be used in other weapons?

                        How did the rifles used by the Hessian, French and Spanish come to the Brown Bess and Kentucky Long Rifle?

                        Many Thanks
                        Bob
                      • Dan Gracia
                        Wow Bob, looks like you need to do some digging. You are just getting started. Those are actually very simple questions and if you ever saw a Bess next to an
                        Message 11 of 21 , Apr 27 3:13 PM
                          Wow Bob, looks like you need to do some digging. You are just getting
                          started. Those are actually very simple questions and if you ever saw a
                          Bess next to an American Longrifle, the differences would be visually
                          apparent.

                          � The Bess was actually the Long Land Pattern British musket and came in a
                          few variations during the war. It was a smoothbore (like a shotgun) and the
                          way that they loaded and used them, if you were hit by a musketball beyond
                          about 50 yards, you were very unlucky. It was a .75 caliber weapon and,
                          because black powder fouls so badly, they used a .69 caliber ball in it.
                          Their ammo was pre-packaged into paper cartridges and kept in cartridge
                          boxes on their belt on the back, right side of it. The drill went like
                          this: pull out the cartridge and bite off the top of the paper, prime the
                          pan, pour the rest of the powder down the barrel and then stuff the ball
                          with the paper into the barrel and ram it home. If they didn't use the
                          paper as wadding to hold the ball in, it would roll out of the barrel if
                          they pointed the barrel towards the ground.

                          So the Bess was not an accurate weapon, but it could be loaded quickly and
                          you did not want to get hit by a .69 caliber lead ball - massive damage.
                          Soldiers in the King's army were required to demonstrate their ability to
                          load and fire 3 rounds per minute before they were allowed on the line.
                          So, you get 24 men in a line all firing at the same time and accuracy is no
                          longer so important. Like having a monster shotgun. The Bess was also a
                          very robustly built weapon suitable for breaking down doors. It also had
                          a bayonet mount and battles were often decided by one side charging the
                          other with bayonets before the other side could load and fire their weapons.

                          � The rifle on the other hand was an extremely accurate weapon capable of
                          dependably putting soldiers out of commission at 300 yards. However, you
                          couldn't load it anywhere near as fast and it didn't hold a bayonet. The
                          rifle was best used for scouts, pickets, skirmishers, and sniping. When
                          used effectively, rifles were the first to engage the enemy at their
                          farthest range and were known for picking off officers and artillery
                          crews. They worked great as long as they stayed out of range of the
                          muskets. When the muskets got within range, riflemen typically ran behind
                          their own musket lines and then headed to the flanks to snipe from cover
                          while the muskets duked it out and decided the battle.

                          When loading a rifle, you prime the pan, measure out the powder and pour it
                          in the barrel, put some patching material over the muzzle and thumb-press
                          your lead ball into the muzzle, cut off the patching material at the
                          muzzle, and then ram the ball home. Like loading the Bess, the pan was
                          primed first because it was quicker, not safer, when people were shooting
                          at you. Priming the pan is the last step in loading your firelock if you
                          were hunting. Unlike the Bess, the rifle has rifling (grooves that twist
                          down the barrel), which is what gives the rifle its great accuracy. The
                          ball is a tight enough fit that if forces the patch into the rifling
                          grooves forming a little pocket around the ball. When the rifle is fired,
                          the patch enclosing the ball spins which causes the ball to spin on its
                          axis. Like a football spiral. This gives it some gyroscopic stability and
                          is extremely accurate at long distances.

                          As far as the size of the lead ball, that varied greatly. Most of them
                          were around 50 to 58 caliber but some were as large as 62 cal. There was
                          no standard, in fact two of the same rifle made by the same maker would
                          often be slightly different calibers. So each rifle came with lead ball
                          mold to fit it. The advantage of these smaller projectiles is that they
                          didn't require as much lead to make as many balls and they didn't need to
                          use as much powder to propel them. But again, there was nothing fast about
                          the loading process.

                          � The Continental Army at the start of the war used whatever they had or
                          captured from the British. Safe to say very little consistency. However,
                          after the Battle of Saratoga, which convinced the French that the
                          Continentals could win, the French started supplying the US with French
                          Muskets. The French Muskets were .69 caliber (smaller than the Brit's
                          Bess) and then there was constancy of firearms in the line troops.
                          Consistency of weapons meant that massive quantities of cartridges could be
                          prepared ahead of time, just like the British did.

                          � Back to the rifles for a second. What became known as the Kentucky
                          rifle was not built in Kentucky. In fact it didn't start to become known
                          as the Kentucky Longrifle until after the end of the war as the Kentucky
                          Frontier started to be settled. So it was named for where it was expected
                          to be used, not where it was made. The vast majority of American
                          Longrifles are/were more aptly called Pennsylvania Longrifles because they
                          were made in Pennsylvania.

                          Moravian Gunsmiths migrated from Germany to the US in the early 1700's and
                          large communities of them settled in the Lancaster, PA area and surrounding
                          counties. Moravian gunsmiths had been making German Jaeger rifles since
                          the 1600's so these gunsmiths were rifle makers. Jaeger rifles were
                          bulkier, typically .62 caliber, and short by comparison to the longrifle.
                          As they adjusted to conditions and preferences in the US, The sleek, long
                          barreled, well balanced, accurate American Longrifle made its appearance.
                          Some of these Moravian gunsmiths didn't settle in PA, but continued down
                          the Great Wagon Road into Virginia and the Carolinas too. So you will also
                          find longrifles made in Virginia and the Carolinas during the war too.

                          After the war, the demand for longrifles dropped out and the only way a
                          rifle maker could make a living was by making his rifles stand out from the
                          rest. This started the Golden Age of the longrifle. Brass inlays on the
                          forearm, and around the wrist were added. "Pierced" patchboxes made an
                          appearance and basically decoration went wild. Also, the calibers went
                          down. Lots of rifles were closer to .40 and .45 caliber than .50 and
                          above. The butt plate of the rifles became slimmer and crescent shaped
                          because you didn't need the wider and flatter butt plates used on larger
                          caliber rifles firing heavier charges of black powder. This,
                          coincidentally, is when the move to settle Kentucky took place and these
                          Golden Age Rifles came to be called Kentucky Longrifles.

                          So if you consider a rifle for the revolutionary war, stay away from the
                          heavily decorated ones. They are beauties, but they are not period
                          correct. American longrifles of the era were commonly engraved often in a
                          Rococo style but about the only actual decoration you might see on them
                          would be a thumbplate on the top of the wrist behind the tang of the
                          rifle. Early ones may not have a patchbox at all, or may have a wooden
                          patchbox. As we get into the mid 1770's brass patchboxes became the known,
                          but they were not pierced (no wood designs showing through the brass). So
                          stay away from the fancy ones for the Rev War.

                          Enough for now. Hope that helps,

                          Your Most Humble Servant,
                          Dan

                          Dan Gracia
                          Virginia 7th Regiment
                          Rifle company
                          and
                          Capt. John Warner's Company
                          Green Mountain Rangers



                          On Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 10:32 AM, battelh2000 <qonos05178@...> wrote:

                          > **
                          >
                          >
                          > Hi,
                          >
                          > I am looking for some information on the comparison of Brown Bess and the
                          > Kentucky Long Rifle.
                          >
                          > Which weapon was more accurate, and had the greater range?
                          > Could the rounds be used in both weapons?
                          > During the Revolutionary War, was the diameter of the barrels similar, or
                          > differ greatly that didn't permit the ammo to be used in other weapons?
                          >
                          > How did the rifles used by the Hessian, French and Spanish come to the
                          > Brown Bess and Kentucky Long Rifle?
                          >
                          > Many Thanks
                          > Bob
                          >
                          > _
                          >


                          --


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Dan Gracia
                          Nuts, I said the rifles were engraved and I meant carved. They often featured relief carving in the Rococo style. Incise carving was also common... sucks
                          Message 12 of 21 , Apr 27 3:19 PM
                            Nuts, I said the rifles were "engraved " and I meant carved. They often
                            featured relief carving in the Rococo style. Incise carving was also
                            common... sucks to get old...

                            YMHS,
                            Dan


                            --
                            Dan Gracia
                            Virginia 7th Regiment
                            Rifle company
                            and
                            Capt. John Warner's Company
                            Green Mountain Rangers


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Bob Metell
                            *Hi John,* * * *Many thanks for the info. Despite the fact I grew up in Boston, I am a Civil War era and Maritime historian, and only recently began to examine
                            Message 13 of 21 , Apr 27 5:38 PM
                              *Hi John,*
                              *
                              *
                              *Many thanks for the info. Despite the fact I grew up in Boston, I am a
                              Civil War era and Maritime historian, and only recently began to examine
                              the Revolution. My two main areas of interest is artillery and the medical
                              aspects of the war.*
                              *
                              *
                              *Have a Great Weekend*
                              *Bob*


                              On Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 6:13 PM, Dan Gracia <twisted1in66@...> wrote:

                              > Wow Bob, looks like you need to do some digging. You are just getting
                              > started. Those are actually very simple questions and if you ever saw a
                              > Bess next to an American Longrifle, the differences would be visually
                              > apparent.
                              >
                              > � The Bess was actually the Long Land Pattern British musket and came in a
                              > few variations during the war. It was a smoothbore (like a shotgun) and the
                              > way that they loaded and used them, if you were hit by a musketball beyond
                              > about 50 yards, you were very unlucky. It was a .75 caliber weapon and,
                              > because black powder fouls so badly, they used a .69 caliber ball in it.
                              > Their ammo was pre-packaged into paper cartridges and kept in cartridge
                              > boxes on their belt on the back, right side of it. The drill went like
                              > this: pull out the cartridge and bite off the top of the paper, prime the
                              > pan, pour the rest of the powder down the barrel and then stuff the ball
                              > with the paper into the barrel and ram it home. If they didn't use the
                              > paper as wadding to hold the ball in, it would roll out of the barrel if
                              > they pointed the barrel towards the ground.
                              >
                              > So the Bess was not an accurate weapon, but it could be loaded quickly and
                              > you did not want to get hit by a .69 caliber lead ball - massive damage.
                              > Soldiers in the King's army were required to demonstrate their ability to
                              > load and fire 3 rounds per minute before they were allowed on the line.
                              > So, you get 24 men in a line all firing at the same time and accuracy is no
                              > longer so important. Like having a monster shotgun. The Bess was also a
                              > very robustly built weapon suitable for breaking down doors. It also had
                              > a bayonet mount and battles were often decided by one side charging the
                              > other with bayonets before the other side could load and fire their
                              > weapons.
                              >
                              > � The rifle on the other hand was an extremely accurate weapon capable of
                              > dependably putting soldiers out of commission at 300 yards. However, you
                              > couldn't load it anywhere near as fast and it didn't hold a bayonet. The
                              > rifle was best used for scouts, pickets, skirmishers, and sniping. When
                              > used effectively, rifles were the first to engage the enemy at their
                              > farthest range and were known for picking off officers and artillery
                              > crews. They worked great as long as they stayed out of range of the
                              > muskets. When the muskets got within range, riflemen typically ran behind
                              > their own musket lines and then headed to the flanks to snipe from cover
                              > while the muskets duked it out and decided the battle.
                              >
                              > When loading a rifle, you prime the pan, measure out the powder and pour it
                              > in the barrel, put some patching material over the muzzle and thumb-press
                              > your lead ball into the muzzle, cut off the patching material at the
                              > muzzle, and then ram the ball home. Like loading the Bess, the pan was
                              > primed first because it was quicker, not safer, when people were shooting
                              > at you. Priming the pan is the last step in loading your firelock if you
                              > were hunting. Unlike the Bess, the rifle has rifling (grooves that twist
                              > down the barrel), which is what gives the rifle its great accuracy. The
                              > ball is a tight enough fit that if forces the patch into the rifling
                              > grooves forming a little pocket around the ball. When the rifle is fired,
                              > the patch enclosing the ball spins which causes the ball to spin on its
                              > axis. Like a football spiral. This gives it some gyroscopic stability and
                              > is extremely accurate at long distances.
                              >
                              > As far as the size of the lead ball, that varied greatly. Most of them
                              > were around 50 to 58 caliber but some were as large as 62 cal. There was
                              > no standard, in fact two of the same rifle made by the same maker would
                              > often be slightly different calibers. So each rifle came with lead ball
                              > mold to fit it. The advantage of these smaller projectiles is that they
                              > didn't require as much lead to make as many balls and they didn't need to
                              > use as much powder to propel them. But again, there was nothing fast about
                              > the loading process.
                              >
                              > � The Continental Army at the start of the war used whatever they had or
                              > captured from the British. Safe to say very little consistency. However,
                              > after the Battle of Saratoga, which convinced the French that the
                              > Continentals could win, the French started supplying the US with French
                              > Muskets. The French Muskets were .69 caliber (smaller than the Brit's
                              > Bess) and then there was constancy of firearms in the line troops.
                              > Consistency of weapons meant that massive quantities of cartridges could be
                              > prepared ahead of time, just like the British did.
                              >
                              > � Back to the rifles for a second. What became known as the Kentucky
                              > rifle was not built in Kentucky. In fact it didn't start to become known
                              > as the Kentucky Longrifle until after the end of the war as the Kentucky
                              > Frontier started to be settled. So it was named for where it was expected
                              > to be used, not where it was made. The vast majority of American
                              > Longrifles are/were more aptly called Pennsylvania Longrifles because they
                              > were made in Pennsylvania.
                              >
                              > Moravian Gunsmiths migrated from Germany to the US in the early 1700's and
                              > large communities of them settled in the Lancaster, PA area and surrounding
                              > counties. Moravian gunsmiths had been making German Jaeger rifles since
                              > the 1600's so these gunsmiths were rifle makers. Jaeger rifles were
                              > bulkier, typically .62 caliber, and short by comparison to the longrifle.
                              > As they adjusted to conditions and preferences in the US, The sleek, long
                              > barreled, well balanced, accurate American Longrifle made its appearance.
                              > Some of these Moravian gunsmiths didn't settle in PA, but continued down
                              > the Great Wagon Road into Virginia and the Carolinas too. So you will also
                              > find longrifles made in Virginia and the Carolinas during the war too.
                              >
                              > After the war, the demand for longrifles dropped out and the only way a
                              > rifle maker could make a living was by making his rifles stand out from the
                              > rest. This started the Golden Age of the longrifle. Brass inlays on the
                              > forearm, and around the wrist were added. "Pierced" patchboxes made an
                              > appearance and basically decoration went wild. Also, the calibers went
                              > down. Lots of rifles were closer to .40 and .45 caliber than .50 and
                              > above. The butt plate of the rifles became slimmer and crescent shaped
                              > because you didn't need the wider and flatter butt plates used on larger
                              > caliber rifles firing heavier charges of black powder. This,
                              > coincidentally, is when the move to settle Kentucky took place and these
                              > Golden Age Rifles came to be called Kentucky Longrifles.
                              >
                              > So if you consider a rifle for the revolutionary war, stay away from the
                              > heavily decorated ones. They are beauties, but they are not period
                              > correct. American longrifles of the era were commonly engraved often in a
                              > Rococo style but about the only actual decoration you might see on them
                              > would be a thumbplate on the top of the wrist behind the tang of the
                              > rifle. Early ones may not have a patchbox at all, or may have a wooden
                              > patchbox. As we get into the mid 1770's brass patchboxes became the known,
                              > but they were not pierced (no wood designs showing through the brass). So
                              > stay away from the fancy ones for the Rev War.
                              >
                              > Enough for now. Hope that helps,
                              >
                              > Your Most Humble Servant,
                              > Dan
                              >
                              > Dan Gracia
                              > Virginia 7th Regiment
                              > Rifle company
                              > and
                              > Capt. John Warner's Company
                              > Green Mountain Rangers
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > On Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 10:32 AM, battelh2000 <qonos05178@...>
                              > wrote:
                              >
                              > > **
                              > >
                              > >
                              > > Hi,
                              > >
                              > > I am looking for some information on the comparison of Brown Bess and the
                              > > Kentucky Long Rifle.
                              > >
                              > > Which weapon was more accurate, and had the greater range?
                              > > Could the rounds be used in both weapons?
                              > > During the Revolutionary War, was the diameter of the barrels similar, or
                              > > differ greatly that didn't permit the ammo to be used in other weapons?
                              > >
                              > > How did the rifles used by the Hessian, French and Spanish come to the
                              > > Brown Bess and Kentucky Long Rifle?
                              > >
                              > > Many Thanks
                              > > Bob
                              > >
                              > > _
                              > >
                              >
                              >
                              > --
                              >
                              >
                              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > ------------------------------------
                              >
                              > To subscribe to Revlist, please go to the home page at
                              > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Revlist/ and click "Join This Group!"
                              >
                              > TO UNSUBSCRIBE: please send a message to
                              > Revlist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                              > with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.Yahoo! Groups Links
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >


                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Douglas Butler
                              I just got a copy of The Gunsmith of Grenville County by Peter Alexander, and was surprised to read that as many as half of the rifles brought to the siege of
                              Message 14 of 21 , Apr 28 4:40 AM
                                I just got a copy of The Gunsmith of Grenville County by Peter Alexander, and was surprised to read that as many as half of the rifles brought to the siege of Boston by the rifle companies from the south were "smooth rifles" with no rifling in the barrel. Exactly what distinguishes a smooth rifle from a small bore musket I have yet to determine.

                                SherpaDoug
                                YMM
                              • ed07051943
                                From what I understand, it is in the general architecture of the piece and the addition of a rear site. (This is just my general understanding. There may be
                                Message 15 of 21 , Apr 28 4:51 AM
                                  From what I understand, it is in the general architecture of the piece and
                                  the addition of a rear site. (This is just my general understanding.
                                  There may be more detail of which I am unaware.)

                                  Ed Dammer
                                  The German Regiment


                                  In a message dated 4/28/2013 7:40:44 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                                  sherpadoug@... writes:

                                  I just got a copy of The Gunsmith of Grenville County by Peter Alexander,
                                  and was surprised to read that as many as half of the rifles brought to the
                                  siege of Boston by the rifle companies from the south were "smooth rifles"
                                  with no rifling in the barrel. Exactly what distinguishes a smooth rifle
                                  from a small bore musket I have yet to determine.

                                  SherpaDoug
                                  YMM



                                  ------------------------------------

                                  To subscribe to Revlist, please go to the home page at
                                  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Revlist/ and click "Join This Group!"

                                  TO UNSUBSCRIBE: please send a message to
                                  Revlist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                                  with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.Yahoo! Groups Links






                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Dan Gracia
                                  Hi SherpaDog, First, lets take a look at the fowler, which was really a very common firelock in New England and New York at the start of the war. This was a
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Apr 28 6:01 AM
                                    Hi SherpaDog,

                                    First, lets take a look at the fowler, which was really a very common
                                    firelock in New England and New York at the start of the war. This was a
                                    hunting arm that was neither as robust as a military musket, nor did it
                                    have a bayonet mount. It was a much lighter arm and not something you
                                    could break down doors with like you could with a military musket. Fowlers
                                    typically had a full-length forearm and used wooden ramrods. They were
                                    commonly .69 caliber. You could use your fowler with shot for
                                    bird-hunting (hence the name "fowler") and or with a single lead ball for
                                    deer and elk. It was an "all purpose" firelock that could be used for
                                    anything you needed to hunt and it fulfilled the "bring your own firelock"
                                    requirement in the militia. Aall men from 16 to 62 were required to belong
                                    to the local militia and bring their own firelock with them.

                                    A smooth rifle is also an all-purpose firelock similar to a fowler but it
                                    has rifle architecture. It will look like a rifle from a distance, but
                                    will actually have a smoothbore barrel instead. Usually, but not always,
                                    they would use an octagon to round barrel. Very few actual rifles used
                                    that barrel. Since the barrels were wrought iron, that type of barrel
                                    didn't have the strength that a swamped octagon barrel did. Also, rifle
                                    barrels started as a flat piece of wrought iron and were all hammer-welded
                                    into that octagon shape, which took a crazy amount of time to build.
                                    That's why a rifle would typically cost 2 to 3 times as much as a
                                    smoothbore and about as much as a year's wages in the 1700's. Like a
                                    rifle, they did not have a bayonet mount on them. Smooth rifles also had
                                    the full length forearm, a cheek piece, a patchbox, used wooden ramrods,
                                    and sometimes even a nosecap (most commonly brass nosecap) just like the
                                    rifles of the day had. So they looked like a rifle but shot like a fowler.

                                    Now to confuse the matter, besides the smooth rifles that were purposely
                                    built, there were also smooth rifles that had started as a normal rifle,
                                    but the rifling had been worn out. Remembering that the barrels were
                                    hammer welded wrought iron, they didn't have the strength or hardness of
                                    modern steel. Also bearing in mind the cost of a rifle, they were often
                                    handed down from father to son. So it wasn't uncommon to have the rifling
                                    "refreshed" after many years of use because the rifling grooves had become
                                    so shallow that the rifle started to lose its accuracy. This usually meant
                                    boring the rifle out slightly larger and cutting new rifling into the
                                    smooth barrel. It also meant a new round ball mold as the old one was now
                                    too small. So some of the "smooth rifles" you found during the war were
                                    not originally made that way but due to perhaps inadequate maintenance and
                                    heavy use, the barrel had become worn to the point of being a smooth bore
                                    and would now be a "smooth-rifle".

                                    It's a bit confusing when you first start looking into it, but I hope that
                                    helps. The basic difference between a fowler and a smooth rifle were the
                                    looks. Bear in mind a musket, regardless of bore size is a much more
                                    robustly built and heavier military weapon with a bayonet mount on it, so
                                    although a fowler was probably the most common firelock in New England and
                                    New York, it would not be considered a "small bore musket". It was a
                                    sporting arm that was brought to war, not a military musket designed for
                                    war. We didn't really get the smaller bore muskets until the French joined
                                    the war in 1778 and supplied their French Muskets to the Continental Army.

                                    YMHS,
                                    Dan

                                    Dan Gracia
                                    Virginia 7th Regiment
                                    Rifle company
                                    and
                                    Capt. John Warner's Company
                                    Green Mountain Rangers




                                    On Sun, Apr 28, 2013 at 7:40 AM, Douglas Butler <sherpadoug@...>wrote:

                                    > **
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > I just got a copy of The Gunsmith of Grenville County by Peter Alexander,
                                    > and was surprised to read that as many as half of the rifles brought to the
                                    > siege of Boston by the rifle companies from the south were "smooth rifles"
                                    > with no rifling in the barrel. Exactly what distinguishes a smooth rifle
                                    > from a small bore musket I have yet to determine.
                                    >
                                    > SherpaDoug
                                    > YMM
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >


                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • John Clines
                                    Dan Those were some very well thought out and complete responses I enjoyed reading them Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge John ... From:
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Apr 28 8:00 AM
                                      Dan
                                      Those were some very well thought out and complete responses
                                      I enjoyed reading them
                                      Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge
                                      John




                                      -----Original Message-----
                                      From: Revlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Revlist@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
                                      Dan Gracia
                                      Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2013 9:01 AM
                                      To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
                                      Subject: Re: [Revlist] Re: Rifle Question

                                      Hi SherpaDog,

                                      First, lets take a look at the fowler, which was really a very common
                                      firelock in New England and New York at the start of the war. This was a
                                      hunting arm that was neither as robust as a military musket, nor did it
                                      have a bayonet mount. It was a much lighter arm and not something you
                                      could break down doors with like you could with a military musket. Fowlers
                                      typically had a full-length forearm and used wooden ramrods. They were
                                      commonly .69 caliber. You could use your fowler with shot for
                                      bird-hunting (hence the name "fowler") and or with a single lead ball for
                                      deer and elk. It was an "all purpose" firelock that could be used for
                                      anything you needed to hunt and it fulfilled the "bring your own firelock"
                                      requirement in the militia. Aall men from 16 to 62 were required to belong
                                      to the local militia and bring their own firelock with them.

                                      A smooth rifle is also an all-purpose firelock similar to a fowler but it
                                      has rifle architecture. It will look like a rifle from a distance, but
                                      will actually have a smoothbore barrel instead. Usually, but not always,
                                      they would use an octagon to round barrel. Very few actual rifles used
                                      that barrel. Since the barrels were wrought iron, that type of barrel
                                      didn't have the strength that a swamped octagon barrel did. Also, rifle
                                      barrels started as a flat piece of wrought iron and were all hammer-welded
                                      into that octagon shape, which took a crazy amount of time to build.
                                      That's why a rifle would typically cost 2 to 3 times as much as a
                                      smoothbore and about as much as a year's wages in the 1700's. Like a
                                      rifle, they did not have a bayonet mount on them. Smooth rifles also had
                                      the full length forearm, a cheek piece, a patchbox, used wooden ramrods,
                                      and sometimes even a nosecap (most commonly brass nosecap) just like the
                                      rifles of the day had. So they looked like a rifle but shot like a fowler.

                                      Now to confuse the matter, besides the smooth rifles that were purposely
                                      built, there were also smooth rifles that had started as a normal rifle,
                                      but the rifling had been worn out. Remembering that the barrels were
                                      hammer welded wrought iron, they didn't have the strength or hardness of
                                      modern steel. Also bearing in mind the cost of a rifle, they were often
                                      handed down from father to son. So it wasn't uncommon to have the rifling
                                      "refreshed" after many years of use because the rifling grooves had become
                                      so shallow that the rifle started to lose its accuracy. This usually meant
                                      boring the rifle out slightly larger and cutting new rifling into the
                                      smooth barrel. It also meant a new round ball mold as the old one was now
                                      too small. So some of the "smooth rifles" you found during the war were
                                      not originally made that way but due to perhaps inadequate maintenance and
                                      heavy use, the barrel had become worn to the point of being a smooth bore
                                      and would now be a "smooth-rifle".

                                      It's a bit confusing when you first start looking into it, but I hope that
                                      helps. The basic difference between a fowler and a smooth rifle were the
                                      looks. Bear in mind a musket, regardless of bore size is a much more
                                      robustly built and heavier military weapon with a bayonet mount on it, so
                                      although a fowler was probably the most common firelock in New England and
                                      New York, it would not be considered a "small bore musket". It was a
                                      sporting arm that was brought to war, not a military musket designed for
                                      war. We didn't really get the smaller bore muskets until the French joined
                                      the war in 1778 and supplied their French Muskets to the Continental Army.

                                      YMHS,
                                      Dan

                                      Dan Gracia
                                      Virginia 7th Regiment
                                      Rifle company
                                      and
                                      Capt. John Warner's Company
                                      Green Mountain Rangers




                                      On Sun, Apr 28, 2013 at 7:40 AM, Douglas Butler
                                      <sherpadoug@...>wrote:

                                      > **
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > I just got a copy of The Gunsmith of Grenville County by Peter Alexander,
                                      > and was surprised to read that as many as half of the rifles brought to
                                      the
                                      > siege of Boston by the rifle companies from the south were "smooth rifles"
                                      > with no rifling in the barrel. Exactly what distinguishes a smooth rifle
                                      > from a small bore musket I have yet to determine.
                                      >
                                      > SherpaDoug
                                      > YMM
                                    • Douglas Butler
                                      Thanks Dan for such an informative reply. SherpaDoug YMM
                                      Message 18 of 21 , Apr 28 4:20 PM
                                        Thanks Dan for such an informative reply.

                                        SherpaDoug
                                        YMM

                                        --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, Dan Gracia <twisted1in66@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > Hi SherpaDog,
                                        >
                                        > First, lets take a look at the fowler, which was really a very common
                                        > firelock in New England and New York at the start of the war. This was a
                                        > hunting arm that was neither as robust as a military musket, nor did it
                                        > have a bayonet mount. It was a much lighter arm and not something you
                                        > could break down doors with like you could with a military musket. Fowlers
                                        > typically had a full-length forearm and used wooden ramrods. They were
                                        > commonly .69 caliber. You could use your fowler with shot for
                                        > bird-hunting (hence the name "fowler") and or with a single lead ball for
                                        > deer and elk. It was an "all purpose" firelock that could be used for
                                        > anything you needed to hunt and it fulfilled the "bring your own firelock"
                                        > requirement in the militia. Aall men from 16 to 62 were required to belong
                                        > to the local militia and bring their own firelock with them.
                                        >
                                        > A smooth rifle is also an all-purpose firelock similar to a fowler but it
                                        > has rifle architecture. It will look like a rifle from a distance, but
                                        > will actually have a smoothbore barrel instead. Usually, but not always,
                                        > they would use an octagon to round barrel. Very few actual rifles used
                                        > that barrel. Since the barrels were wrought iron, that type of barrel
                                        > didn't have the strength that a swamped octagon barrel did. Also, rifle
                                        > barrels started as a flat piece of wrought iron and were all hammer-welded
                                        > into that octagon shape, which took a crazy amount of time to build.
                                        > That's why a rifle would typically cost 2 to 3 times as much as a
                                        > smoothbore and about as much as a year's wages in the 1700's. Like a
                                        > rifle, they did not have a bayonet mount on them. Smooth rifles also had
                                        > the full length forearm, a cheek piece, a patchbox, used wooden ramrods,
                                        > and sometimes even a nosecap (most commonly brass nosecap) just like the
                                        > rifles of the day had. So they looked like a rifle but shot like a fowler.
                                        >
                                        > Now to confuse the matter, besides the smooth rifles that were purposely
                                        > built, there were also smooth rifles that had started as a normal rifle,
                                        > but the rifling had been worn out. Remembering that the barrels were
                                        > hammer welded wrought iron, they didn't have the strength or hardness of
                                        > modern steel. Also bearing in mind the cost of a rifle, they were often
                                        > handed down from father to son. So it wasn't uncommon to have the rifling
                                        > "refreshed" after many years of use because the rifling grooves had become
                                        > so shallow that the rifle started to lose its accuracy. This usually meant
                                        > boring the rifle out slightly larger and cutting new rifling into the
                                        > smooth barrel. It also meant a new round ball mold as the old one was now
                                        > too small. So some of the "smooth rifles" you found during the war were
                                        > not originally made that way but due to perhaps inadequate maintenance and
                                        > heavy use, the barrel had become worn to the point of being a smooth bore
                                        > and would now be a "smooth-rifle".
                                        >
                                        > It's a bit confusing when you first start looking into it, but I hope that
                                        > helps. The basic difference between a fowler and a smooth rifle were the
                                        > looks. Bear in mind a musket, regardless of bore size is a much more
                                        > robustly built and heavier military weapon with a bayonet mount on it, so
                                        > although a fowler was probably the most common firelock in New England and
                                        > New York, it would not be considered a "small bore musket". It was a
                                        > sporting arm that was brought to war, not a military musket designed for
                                        > war. We didn't really get the smaller bore muskets until the French joined
                                        > the war in 1778 and supplied their French Muskets to the Continental Army.
                                        >
                                        > YMHS,
                                        > Dan
                                        >
                                        > Dan Gracia
                                        > Virginia 7th Regiment
                                        > Rifle company
                                        > and
                                        > Capt. John Warner's Company
                                        > Green Mountain Rangers
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > On Sun, Apr 28, 2013 at 7:40 AM, Douglas Butler <sherpadoug@...>wrote:
                                        >
                                        > > **
                                        > >
                                        > >
                                        > > I just got a copy of The Gunsmith of Grenville County by Peter Alexander,
                                        > > and was surprised to read that as many as half of the rifles brought to the
                                        > > siege of Boston by the rifle companies from the south were "smooth rifles"
                                        > > with no rifling in the barrel. Exactly what distinguishes a smooth rifle
                                        > > from a small bore musket I have yet to determine.
                                        > >
                                        > > SherpaDoug
                                        > > YMM
                                        > >
                                        > >
                                        > >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                        >
                                      • Bruce Cobb
                                        For all you surveyors out there, I am working on some research on a Samuel McConkey land transfer in Upper Makefield Twp Pa (Yes, Washington Crossing area) and
                                        Message 19 of 21 , May 10, 2014
                                          For all you surveyors out there,
                                          I am working on some research on a Samuel McConkey land transfer in Upper Makefield Twp Pa (Yes, Washington Crossing area) and there seems to be several definitions, or lengths, to a Perch. Does anyone have a 1774 definition. I have been using 16.5 feet.
                                          Thanks in advance
                                          Bruce


                                          Bruce C. Cobb
                                          Pa Freemason, Harry A.Houseman Lodge #717, PM
                                          Historical Interpreter, Washington Crossing Historic Park, Pa
                                          Commander, 5th Pa Reg't Rifles, Oldham's Co., Church's Co.
                                          Captain, Washington Crossing Boat Crew
                                          Member, The Millbrook Society
                                          Member, Moland House, Warwick Twp Historical Society
                                          Interim President, et al,, Historical Society of Lower Southampton Twp .
                                          "Adopted member", Glover's Reg't, Marbleheader, 14th Continental

                                           

                                          --------------------------------------------
                                          On Sun, 4/28/13, Dan Gracia <twisted1in66@...> wrote:

                                          Subject: Re: [Revlist] Re: Rifle Question
                                          To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
                                          Date: Sunday, April 28, 2013, 9:01 AM
















                                           









                                          Hi SherpaDog,



                                          First, lets take a look at the fowler, which was really a
                                          very common

                                          firelock in New England and New York at the start of the
                                          war. This was a

                                          hunting arm that was neither as robust as a military musket,
                                          nor did it

                                          have a bayonet mount. It was a much lighter arm and not
                                          something you

                                          could break down doors with like you could with a military
                                          musket. Fowlers

                                          typically had a full-length forearm and used wooden ramrods.
                                          They were

                                          commonly .69 caliber. You could use your fowler with shot
                                          for

                                          bird-hunting (hence the name "fowler") and or with
                                          a single lead ball for

                                          deer and elk. It was an "all purpose" firelock
                                          that could be used for

                                          anything you needed to hunt and it fulfilled the "bring
                                          your own firelock"

                                          requirement in the militia. Aall men from 16 to 62 were
                                          required to belong

                                          to the local militia and bring their own firelock with
                                          them.



                                          A smooth rifle is also an all-purpose firelock similar to a
                                          fowler but it

                                          has rifle architecture. It will look like a rifle from a
                                          distance, but

                                          will actually have a smoothbore barrel instead. Usually,
                                          but not always,

                                          they would use an octagon to round barrel. Very few actual
                                          rifles used

                                          that barrel. Since the barrels were wrought iron, that type
                                          of barrel

                                          didn't have the strength that a swamped octagon barrel
                                          did. Also, rifle

                                          barrels started as a flat piece of wrought iron and were all
                                          hammer-welded

                                          into that octagon shape, which took a crazy amount of time
                                          to build.

                                          That's why a rifle would typically cost 2 to 3 times as
                                          much as a

                                          smoothbore and about as much as a year's wages in the
                                          1700's. Like a

                                          rifle, they did not have a bayonet mount on them. Smooth
                                          rifles also had

                                          the full length forearm, a cheek piece, a patchbox, used
                                          wooden ramrods,

                                          and sometimes even a nosecap (most commonly brass nosecap)
                                          just like the

                                          rifles of the day had. So they looked like a rifle but shot
                                          like a fowler.



                                          Now to confuse the matter, besides the smooth rifles that
                                          were purposely

                                          built, there were also smooth rifles that had started as a
                                          normal rifle,

                                          but the rifling had been worn out. Remembering that the
                                          barrels were

                                          hammer welded wrought iron, they didn't have the
                                          strength or hardness of

                                          modern steel. Also bearing in mind the cost of a rifle,
                                          they were often

                                          handed down from father to son. So it wasn't uncommon
                                          to have the rifling

                                          "refreshed" after many years of use because the
                                          rifling grooves had become

                                          so shallow that the rifle started to lose its accuracy.
                                          This usually meant

                                          boring the rifle out slightly larger and cutting new rifling
                                          into the

                                          smooth barrel. It also meant a new round ball mold as the
                                          old one was now

                                          too small. So some of the "smooth rifles" you
                                          found during the war were

                                          not originally made that way but due to perhaps inadequate
                                          maintenance and

                                          heavy use, the barrel had become worn to the point of being
                                          a smooth bore

                                          and would now be a "smooth-rifle".



                                          It's a bit confusing when you first start looking into
                                          it, but I hope that

                                          helps. The basic difference between a fowler and a smooth
                                          rifle were the

                                          looks. Bear in mind a musket, regardless of bore size is a
                                          much more

                                          robustly built and heavier military weapon with a bayonet
                                          mount on it, so

                                          although a fowler was probably the most common firelock in
                                          New England and

                                          New York, it would not be considered a "small bore
                                          musket". It was a

                                          sporting arm that was brought to war, not a military musket
                                          designed for

                                          war. We didn't really get the smaller bore muskets
                                          until the French joined

                                          the war in 1778 and supplied their French Muskets to the
                                          Continental Army.



                                          YMHS,

                                          Dan



                                          Dan Gracia

                                          Virginia 7th Regiment

                                          Rifle company

                                          and

                                          Capt. John Warner's Company

                                          Green Mountain Rangers



                                          On Sun, Apr 28, 2013 at 7:40 AM, Douglas Butler <sherpadoug@...>wrote:



                                          > **

                                          >

                                          >

                                          > I just got a copy of The Gunsmith of Grenville County
                                          by Peter Alexander,

                                          > and was surprised to read that as many as half of the
                                          rifles brought to the

                                          > siege of Boston by the rifle companies from the south
                                          were "smooth rifles"

                                          > with no rifling in the barrel. Exactly what
                                          distinguishes a smooth rifle

                                          > from a small bore musket I have yet to determine.

                                          >

                                          > SherpaDoug

                                          > YMM

                                          >

                                          >

                                          >



                                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                        • mitchlee3rdny
                                          Well I find these topics very interesting and thought I may add this from My files 16 & 1/2 Feet (One Rod) See why below pretty long. and I hate this new math
                                          Message 20 of 21 , May 10, 2014

                                            Well I find these topics very interesting and thought I may add this from My files

                                            16 & 1/2 Feet (One Rod) See why below pretty long. and I hate this new math stuff.

                                            Mitch Lee 1st NY McCrackens Co.

                                            From Pete Nelson Outdoor Writer 

                                            What if I told you that the specifics of our American system of land measurement, with its miles and acres and such, was the direct result of a bunch of oxen standing tired in a field during a morning’s  plowing more than a thousand years ago.  Would you believe me?  Read on.

                                            If you peruse historical documents pertaining to the great  surveys you will encounter a variety of measurement units.  Some, like feet and miles, will be common knowledge to you.  Others, like acres, will be familiar terms though you may not know precisely what they are.  But a few, like the chain, which seems to be the fundamental unit of surveying distance, may well be unknown.   Every major land division in America was originally measured in chains using an actual metal chain called a Gunter’s chain.

                                            The sole surveying map relating to the property fixed the position and dimensions of the lot in terms of chains.  I had heard that terminology before but had no idea what it actually meant.  I had to look it up to learn that a chain was 66 feet.  Like anyone would think I took that as a rather unusual number.  I knew enough about the plethora of anachronistic units of measure that have been used in the past to chalk up the 66 foot distance to an accident of history.

                                            Have you ever wondered why our British or Imperial units of measure are so odd?  We are so used to them that we don’t often step back and think how strange it is that, for example, 5,280 feet make a mile.  Why not 5,000 feet (as it was during Roman times)?  Why not some other round number?  The Imperial system is full of opportunities to ask questions like that.  In the metric system the boiling point of water is 100 degrees centigrade and the freezing point is 0 degrees centigrade.  There you have some nice round numbers that seem sensible.  In the Imperial system those numbers are 212 degrees and 32 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.  Is that not goofy when you think about it?


                                            The chain is an Imperial unit of measure so I was not exactly shocked to learn it was a quirky number.  I think it was a day or two after I looked it up that my casual interest in gave way to obsessive fascination.  My penchant for messing around with numbers had me staring at 66 one afternoon and all of a sudden it hit me.   I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote the number of feet in a mile, 5,280.  Then I divided it by 66.

                                            5,280 ÷ 66 = 80.

                                            Aha!  A round number!  So the length of a Gunter’s chain was no accident after all!  Now I had to know the whole story.

                                            Russ Rowlett, Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and he generously granted permission for me to use his work.  A portion of what follows , especially a number of details on the old English measurements, comes from his dictionary.

                                            Gunter’s chain was developed in 1620 by an English mathematician named Edmund Gunter.  Gunter was a clergyman, having graduated from Christ Church in Oxford and entered the divinity.  But his greatest love was mathematics.  Gunter was my kind of guy, a master of the triangle magic I have been writing about.  As a theoretician he made important extensions to the mathematics of trigonometry and logarithms.  But he is more typically characterized as a pragmatic mathematician who applied his knowledge to solve practical problems of the day.  His chain was a very clever solution to contemporary land surveying problems that were caused by the inelegant collision of two great measurement systems used in England at the time.  Like all essential English conflicts across the great arc of human endeavor and identity, this one comes down to the Normans and the Saxons.

                                            The story begins back in history far before that, at the dawn of civilization.  As human beings organized into social groups and communities they needed common understandings of all sorts of measurable things like sizes of fields, numbers of seeds or crops, various distances and so on.  All these ancient measurement systems  were based upon the human body in two important ways.  Let’s look at both.

                                            The first way in which the human body was important was in the development of standard units of measurement.  Units of measurement for length were based upon lengths of forearm (the Egyptian cubit) , the palm, the finger and thumb (inches), the distance around a waist (a version of the yard) and a walking pace (the mile), among others.

                                            By far the most important such measure was based upon the human foot.  Here are portions of the entry from Rowlett’s dictionary for the foot:

                                            a traditional unit of distance. Almost every culture has used the human foot as a unit of measurement. The natural foot (pes naturalis in Latin), an ancient unit based on the length of actual feet, is about 25 centimeters (9.8 inches). This unit was replaced in early civilizations of the Middle East by a longer foot, roughly 30 centimeters or the size of the modern unit, because this longer length was conveniently expressed in terms of other natural units:

                                            1 foot = 3 hands = 4 palms = 12 inches (thumb widths) = 16 digits (finger widths)

                                            This unit was used in both Greece and Rome…  …the modern foot (1/3 yard or about 30.5 centimeters) did not appear until after the Norman conquest of 1066. It may be an innovation of Henry I, who reigned from 1100 to 1135. Later in the 1100s a foot of modern length, the “foot of St. Paul’s,” was inscribed on the base of a column of St. Paul’s Church in London, so that everyone could see the length of this new foot. From 1300, at least, to the present day there appears be little or no change in the length of the foot.

                                            So the Normans brought a version of the Roman foot to Saxon England and the foot as we know it was standardized shortly thereafter.

                                            The other way in which the human body affected measurement was in the development and organization of number systems themselves.  The great majority of early number systems counted by tens: in other words they were base-10 or decimal systems.  Ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Hindu, Greek and Roman number systems were all decimal systems in part or in whole.  If you want to understand why this is and how it relates to the human body you need only look at your hands.  As we are still wont to do from time to time, ancient peoples counted on their fingers (in a delightful side note I learned during my research that the Mayans had a base-20 system because they counted on both their fingers and toes!).

                                            As described before, the advantage of a decimal system organized with place value in columns of tens is the ease with which various calculations can be done, since multiplying or dividing by ten simply requires moving the decimal point.  This is the entire rationale behind the metric system.  But while one version or another of the base-10 system was in common use for centuries, the development of a decimal point and its rapid calculating power was just coming into common use on the European continent in Edmund Gunter’s time.   The Flemish mathematician Simon Stevin wrote a book called The Tenth in 1585 the purpose of which was to show people “how to perform with an ease unheard of, all computations necessary between men by integers without fractions .”  Then the Scottish mathematician John Napier took up championing the decimal point, predicting that its calculating power would revolutionize mathematics.  He brought it into common use in the early 16thcentury and the decimal point as we know it became the standard in England in 1619, just one year before Gunter developed his chain.  This timing was no coincidence, as we shall see.

                                            Meanwhile in medieval England the Saxons were doing their own thing with measurement.  Like other ancient systems of measurement Saxon units were derived from the need to measure distances in agriculture.  In fact they came directly from Saxons’ experience plowing their fields with teams of oxen.  The details are fascinating.

                                            Teams of oxen were quite difficult to turn; consequently the Saxons would minimize the turns needed by making their fields long and narrow, plowing lengthy strips of furrows. The length of a furrow depended upon how far a team of oxen  could plow before needing to stop for a rest; at that point they would be turned to plow back the other way. This distance – a furrow, long – became the furlong.

                                            For shorter measurements the Saxons had the length of a pole.  There is evidence that it was based upon the pole that was used to urge the oxen along.  Whatever its origin it became known as a rod and it was the fundamental unit of measurement in their system.   The length that oxen could plow before resting was about 40 pole-lengths, so the furlong was standardized as 40 rods.

                                            Oxen were good to plow for a morning, not a full day.  In a full morning of work they could plow furrows to a width of about 4 rods.  Thus the dimensions of a Saxon plowed field was standardized as four rods by one furlong.   The old English word for “field” was acre, the word and dimension we still use today.  Considering that an acre had a length of 40 rods and a width of 4 rods, thus an area of 160 square rods, you can see that the Saxon system was based upon multiples of 4, not multiples of 10.

                                            The Saxons had a version of a foot, from north Germany.  The rod was about 15 of these feet.  Therefore an acre was 600 feet  by 60 feet.  But when the Normans prevailed at the Battle of Hastings they brought with them decimal measurements and the Roman foot, which was a little bit shorter than the north German one.  This led to some adjustments.  From Rowlett’s dictionary:

                                            …when the modern foot became established in the twelfth century, the royal government did not want to change the length of the rod, since that length was the basis of land measurement, land records, and taxes. Therefore the rod was redefined to equal 16 ½ feet, because with reasonable precision that happened to be its length in terms of the new foot.

                                            It is said that Queen Elizabeth herself decreed that the mile be redefined from from it Roman definition of 5,000 feet to fit into the scheme of rods and furlongs.  Since a furlong was now 660 feet under the modern foot (40 rods X 16 ½ feet per rod = 660 feet), the mile was rounded up to the next whole furlong, which was 8 furlongs:  8 furlongs X 660 feet per furlong = 5,280 feet!  Now you now where that odd duck came from.

                                            Land surveys in England continued to be performed with ropes and stakes using rods, furlongs and acres.  But now an acre was no longer 600 feet by 60 feet under the old measurements.  Under the new furlong it was 660 feet long.  And its width?  4 rods X 16 ½ feet per rod = 66 feet.  Does that number ring a bell?

                                            Now we are finally ready for Edmund Gunter in 1620.  He understood well the awkward calculations that were involved in seventeenth-century English surveying with its multiples of 4 and fractional parts of feet.  Decimal calculations using a decimal point, a far superior method of calculation, had just been standardized.  So he figured  out a solution that married the two.  He had a local blacksmith forge a chain of a hundred links, totaling 66 feet.  A chain would be more durable and consistent than a rope.  Now a furlong was ten chains and the the width of an acre was one chain, giving an area of ten square chains.   Parts of a chain, measured in links, were hundredths.   Voila!  Furlongs, acres and portions thereof were now all measurable in decimals. 
                                          • Glenn Williams
                                            All,   If someone has not already posted elsewhere and this topic beaten to death, a perch, pole, and rod are all interchangeable terms for a unit of
                                            Message 21 of 21 , May 12, 2014
                                              All,
                                               
                                              If someone has not already posted elsewhere and this topic beaten to death, a "perch," "pole," and "rod" are all interchangeable terms for a unit of measure equal to 16 1/2 feet -  or one quarter of a "chain," which is equal to 66 feet.  Now, see mitch's explanation for how it fits larger units of measurement (acre, mile, furlong, etc.).  Coincidentally, it is also the length of a XVI century military pike.
                                               
                                              Best Regards,
                                               
                                              Glenn.
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