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More on loading rifles

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  • Robert Van Patten
    Roger s latest post is quite interesting. Some of you may recall that I noted earlier that I was surprised to read about Sharpe biting the bullet out of the
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 3 4:51 AM
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      Roger's latest post is quite interesting. Some of you may recall that I
      noted earlier that I was surprised to read about Sharpe biting the bullet
      out of the cartridge and some of you agreed with me that this description
      by Cornwell was probably incorrect. I am now reading Rifleman Dodd by
      Forester and he describes the same loading procedure. Comments?

      Forester also comments that Dodd demonstrates that he is whatcha call a
      serious rifleman because he carries a little mallet on his belt that he
      uses for pounding the ball down the bore by beating on the ramrod.
      Forester notes that this was possible for a tall rifleman. You bet!

      I have read that frontier riflemen frequently carried a board with ten
      holes in it suspended by a thong or cord around the neck. The holes in the
      board were sized to be a slight press fit to a ball patched with a
      lubricated patch. This obviated the necessity to go digging around in the
      patch box for a greasy patch and then digging around in the shot pouch for
      a round, fitting the patch to the round and then ramming it down. You just
      centered one of the loaded holes over the muzzle and whacked it with your
      ball starter.

      van
    • Roger Fuller
      ... From: Robert Van Patten To: War of 1812 mail list Date: 03 July 1999 07:59 Subject: [WarOf1812] More on
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 3 6:32 AM
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        -----Original Message-----
        From: Robert Van Patten <orville@...>
        To: War of 1812 mail list <WarOf1812@onelist.com>
        Date: 03 July 1999 07:59
        Subject: [WarOf1812] More on loading rifles


        >From: "Robert Van Patten" <orville@...>
        >
        >Roger's latest post is quite interesting. Some of you may recall that I
        >noted earlier that I was surprised to read about Sharpe biting the bullet
        >out of the cartridge and some of you agreed with me that this description
        >by Cornwell was probably incorrect. I am now reading Rifleman Dodd by
        >Forester and he describes the same loading procedure. Comments?
        >
        >Forester also comments that Dodd demonstrates that he is whatcha call a
        >serious rifleman because he carries a little mallet on his belt that he
        >uses for pounding the ball down the bore by beating on the ramrod.
        >Forester notes that this was possible for a tall rifleman. You bet!


        Robert and List,

        the Sharpe series is, as usual, generally incorrect in its details, but does
        provide a good general descrtiption of the feel of the War in the Peninsula.
        Bewar though, the books really aren't about the 95th- the 95th are a
        convenient red- or should I say green :^)- herring thrown in the story to
        lend it some class... they're fun to read, but are in no way to be taken as
        research. In Military Illustrated about 9 or 10 years ago, he said he had
        never loaded or fired a Baker rifle, although he had held one in his hands.

        I don't know why Cornwell has Sharpe biting into a balled cartridge, loading
        and firing it, but perhaps the author saw it in "Rifleman Dodd" by Forester
        and perpetuated the mistake? "Rifleman Dodd" also has a few wrong details,
        such as Dodd wearing a green uniform with black buttons, when indeed, they
        were pewter.

        Same mistake with the mallet. "Dodd" takes place around 1811(?) The mallet
        was introduced in the Experimental Rifle Corps in 1800, (about a thousand
        were made on order by Ezekiel Baker) but they soon fell out of favor, as it
        was just one more thing that the rifleman had to remember to carry and use.
        The hammerhead was used to tap the patched ball into the muzzle, then the
        hammer handle was used to further push the patched ball in. The rammer alone
        was used to seat the ball down onto the powder charge, but hammering the
        rammer is a waste of time, as the shock could break it (The rammers are made
        of at least two or three welded pieces). Indeed, when loading the Baker, it
        is just as easy with practice to use the broad end of the rammer to
        repeatedly tap and push the patched ball into the barrel, as the muzzle is
        slightly tapered and the rifling is quite deep, so one need not worry too
        much about damaging the bore with the rammer.

        Roger Fuller
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