Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Three Times a Minute:

Expand Messages
  • Stalin15@aol.com
    It has been often said that soliders were expected to fire three-four times a minute with a typical smoothbore flintlock musket, during this time period. Can
    Message 1 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      It has been often said that soliders were expected to fire three-four times a minute with a typical smoothbore flintlock musket, during this time period. Can anyone provide me or point me in the direction of a primary or secondary AMERICAN source that indicates this to be true? If not, are there any BRITISH/CANADIAN primary or secondary sources that indicates this to be true?

      --Patrick Costa
    • yawors1@uwindsor.ca
      How fast troop formations could fire was largely a function of training. I think the truly important part of the equation in terms of battlefield tactics is,
      Message 2 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        How fast troop formations could fire was largely a function of training.

        I think the truly important part of the equation in terms of
        battlefield tactics is, how *long* could they fire three or four or
        even five rounds a minute.

        As described in most accounts, the ultimate confrontations between
        mass formations as they clash at the "moment of crisis" in a battle
        usually lasted a very short time. For that short time, it was
        possible to put up a high volume of fire, but with each succeeding
        volley fired by a large formation, "problems" in some of the
        formation's muskets would develop, they would become more fouled and
        a little harder to load, and in short, after the first few volleys
        the firepower of the formation would start to significantly degrade.

        Hence the importance of having your own skirmishers deployed to
        protect your main line, so it wouldn't have to waste its firepower
        trying to swat away a swarm of enemy skirmishers. Hence the
        importance of putting the line in dead ground to the last possible
        moment so it wouldn't get shot up (a specialty of Wellington).

        Which is why 36 rounds in the main cartridge box (British) was more
        than enough for most battles for a line infantryman. The main line
        might only fire a few times.

        If a gap in the action occurred, then it offered a chance to unplug
        touchholes, scrape powder residue off frizzen & pan, urinate down the
        barrel, etc., and try and get everybody's guns working again. Even
        so, a formation that had been in a serious firefight would have a
        tougher time putting up the same volume of fire that they did in the
        first clash, so would have a tougher job beating a formation of
        "fresh" enemy troops i.e. troops whose guns were still clean...

        The battles that turned in to a prolonged firefight actually usually
        produced greater overall casualties, although the volume of fire and
        casualty rate being suffered/inflicted at any given time was much
        less than in a main "clash".
        But if the main clash lasts 5 minutes and the firefight lasts 5
        hours...

        Jim Yaworsky
        41st

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Larry Lozon
        From: How fast troop formations could fire was largely a function of training. I think the truly important part of the equation in terms
        Message 3 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
        • 0 Attachment
          From: <yawors1@...>

          How fast troop formations could fire was largely a function of training.

          I think the truly important part of the equation in terms of
          battlefield tactics is, how *long* could they fire three or four or
          even five rounds a minute.
          .............

          Very interesting.

          I was informed over the weekend that a re-enactor from
          Fort Erie, Ontario actually reached a rate of "SIX" shots a minute !!!!


          Yrs.,

          L2
        • Peter Monahan
          Our own Dave Brunelle has done 6 a minute on several occasions, but not for long and with a couple shortcuts
          Message 4 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
          • 0 Attachment
            Our own Dave Brunelle has done 6 a minute on several occasions, but not for long and with a couple "shortcuts"
            ============================================================
            From: "Larry Lozon" <lalozon@...>
            Date: 2004/10/05 Tue PM 01:45:28 EST
            To: <WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com>
            Subject: [WarOf1812] Three Times a Minute - five minutes vs. five hours


            From: <yawors1@...>

            How fast troop formations could fire was largely a function of training.

            I think the truly important part of the equation in terms of
            battlefield tactics is, how *long* could they fire three or four or
            even five rounds a minute.
            .............

            Very interesting.

            I was informed over the weekend that a re-enactor from
            Fort Erie, Ontario actually reached a rate of "SIX" shots a minute !!!!


            Yrs.,

            L2













            The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...

            Unit Contact information for North America:
            ---------------------------------
            Crown Forces Unit Listing:
            http://1812crownforces.tripod.com

            American Forces Unit Lisiting
            http://usforces1812.tripod.com
            Yahoo! Groups Links







            ============================================================


            Peter Monahan
          • Mark Dickerson
            I hear the surgeon may some newer medications for those short cuts for those 6 per minute occasions! opps ....was that outloud? ... From: Peter Monahan
            Message 5 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
            • 0 Attachment
              I hear the surgeon may some newer medications for those short cuts for those
              "6 per minute" occasions! opps ....was that outloud?
              :)



              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "Peter Monahan" <petemonahan@...>
              To: <WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 2:43 PM
              Subject: Re: [WarOf1812] Three Times a Minute - five minutes vs. five hours


              >
              > Our own Dave Brunelle has done 6 a minute on several occasions, but not
              for long and with a couple "shortcuts"
              > ============================================================
            • hm95thfoot
              ... training. ... four or ... minute !!!! ... With a rammer, and ball cartridge, as they would have done it back then? That would be quite an accomplishment.
              Message 6 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
              • 0 Attachment
                --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Lozon" <lalozon@n...> wrote:
                > From: <yawors1@u...>
                >
                > How fast troop formations could fire was largely a function of
                training.
                >
                > I think the truly important part of the equation in terms of
                > battlefield tactics is, how *long* could they fire three or
                four or
                > even five rounds a minute.
                > .............
                >
                > Very interesting.
                >
                > I was informed over the weekend that a re-enactor from
                > Fort Erie, Ontario actually reached a rate of "SIX" shots a
                minute !!!!
                >
                >
                > Yrs.,
                >
                > L2

                With a rammer, and ball cartridge, as they would have done it back
                then? That would be quite an accomplishment.

                RWF
              • Larry Lozon
                From: hm95thfoot ... = = = = = = Rog Apparently some Napoleonic Re-enactors made a line of musketmen and had cavalry 80 yards
                Message 7 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
                • 0 Attachment
                  From: "hm95thfoot" <fullerfamily@...>

                  > With a rammer, and ball cartridge, as they would have done it back
                  > then? That would be quite an accomplishment.

                  = = = = = =

                  Rog

                  Apparently some Napoleonic Re-enactors made a line of musketmen
                  and had cavalry 80 yards in front of them

                  the experiment was:

                  the line fired ...

                  the horses then attacked.....

                  the muskets could not get loaded and fired
                  by the time the Hussars were on them

                  So at three or four shots a minute, with a rammer, and ball cartridge
                  they could not load fast enough to keep the horses away .......



                  L2
                • Kevin Windsor
                  yeah one of the short cuts is loading while on full cock! Not too safe! ... From: Peter Monahan
                  Message 8 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
                  • 0 Attachment
                    yeah one of the short cuts is loading while on full cock! Not too safe!


                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "Peter Monahan"


                    >
                    > Our own Dave Brunelle has done 6 a minute on several occasions, but not
                    > for long and with a couple "shortcuts"
                    >
                  • hm95thfoot
                    ... back ... musketmen ... cartridge ... Then fix swords/bayonets, and form square, my good man! :^) RWF
                    Message 9 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
                    • 0 Attachment
                      --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Lozon" <lalozon@n...> wrote:
                      > From: "hm95thfoot" <fullerfamily@s...>
                      >
                      > > With a rammer, and ball cartridge, as they would have done it
                      back
                      > > then? That would be quite an accomplishment.
                      >
                      > = = = = = =
                      >
                      > Rog
                      >
                      > Apparently some Napoleonic Re-enactors made a line of
                      musketmen
                      > and had cavalry 80 yards in front of them
                      >
                      > the experiment was:
                      >
                      > the line fired ...
                      >
                      > the horses then attacked.....
                      >
                      > the muskets could not get loaded and fired
                      > by the time the Hussars were on them
                      >
                      > So at three or four shots a minute, with a rammer, and ball
                      cartridge
                      > they could not load fast enough to keep the horses away .......
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > L2

                      Then fix swords/bayonets, and form square, my good man! :^)

                      RWF
                    • hm95thfoot
                      ... safe! Hold my beer, watch this! Darwin Awards candidate.... RWF
                      Message 10 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
                      • 0 Attachment
                        --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Kevin Windsor"
                        <kevin.windsor@s...> wrote:
                        > yeah one of the short cuts is loading while on full cock! Not too
                        safe!


                        "Hold my beer, watch this!"

                        Darwin Awards candidate....

                        RWF
                      • Larry Lozon
                        From: hm95thfoot Then fix swords/bayonets, and form square, my good man! :^) ========= At 80 yards they apparently could
                        Message 11 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
                        • 0 Attachment
                          From: "hm95thfoot" <fullerfamily@...>

                          Then fix swords/bayonets, and form square, my good man! :^)


                          =========

                          At 80 yards they apparently could neither load fast enough
                          nor form square by the time the horses were upon them.





                          L2
                        • Larry Lozon
                          Kevin Windsor wrote yeah one of the short cuts is loading while on full cock! From: hm95thfoot RWFuller Hold my beer, watch this! Darwin Awards
                          Message 12 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
                          • 0 Attachment
                            "Kevin Windsor" wrote
                            yeah one of the short cuts is loading while on full cock!

                            From: "hm95thfoot" RWFuller

                            "Hold my beer, watch this!"
                            Darwin Awards candidate....
                            ------------------------




                            ...but does he spit the balls down the barrel while loading on full
                            cock? :-)
                          • BritcomHMP@aol.com
                            In a message dated 05/10/2004 17:19:13 Central Standard Time, lalozon@netrover.com writes: Then fix swords/bayonets, and form square, my good man! :^)
                            Message 13 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
                            • 0 Attachment
                              In a message dated 05/10/2004 17:19:13 Central Standard Time,
                              lalozon@... writes:

                              Then fix swords/bayonets, and form square, my good man! :^)


                              =========

                              At 80 yards they apparently could neither load fast enough
                              nor form square by the time the horses were upon them.




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

                              Quite, which is why the officer will have them in that formation (or some
                              other defensice position) before the cavalry gets that close!
                              The other point of course is that the volleyagainst cavalry would usualy be
                              held until they were closer in order to be more efective and the fact that the
                              infantry were loaded could put off the cavalry. This is why judging the
                              timing of the cavalry charge was such a delicare thing.

                              Of course if one let charging cavalry get too close one could risk what
                              happened to the KGL at Busaco where a dead horse became a projectile and broke
                              the square.

                              Cheers

                              Tim


                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Peter Monahan
                              ============================================================ From: Kevin Windsor Date: 2004/10/05 Tue PM 06:05:11 EST To:
                              Message 14 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
                              • 0 Attachment
                                ============================================================
                                From: "Kevin Windsor" <kevin.windsor@...>
                                Date: 2004/10/05 Tue PM 06:05:11 EST
                                To: <WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com>
                                Subject: Re: [WarOf1812] Three Times a Minute - five minutes vs. five hours


                                yeah one of the short cuts is loading while on full cock! Not too safe!

                                I couldn't agree more!

                                PM
                                ----- Original Message -----
                                From: "Peter Monahan"


                                >
                                > Our own Dave Brunelle has done 6 a minute on several occasions, but not
                                > for long and with a couple "shortcuts"
                                >




                                The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...

                                Unit Contact information for North America:
                                ---------------------------------
                                Crown Forces Unit Listing:
                                http://1812crownforces.tripod.com

                                American Forces Unit Lisiting
                                http://usforces1812.tripod.com
                                Yahoo! Groups Links







                                ============================================================


                                Peter Monahan
                              • hm95thfoot
                                ... Lar, then do what the 5th Foot and 77th Foot did at El Bodon in 1811 in just such a close situation- Charge Bayonets! They drove the French cavalry off the
                                Message 15 of 22 , Oct 5, 2004
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Lozon" <lalozon@n...> wrote:
                                  > From: "hm95thfoot" <fullerfamily@s...>
                                  >
                                  > Then fix swords/bayonets, and form square, my good man! :^)
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > =========
                                  >
                                  > At 80 yards they apparently could neither load fast enough
                                  > nor form square by the time the horses were upon them.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > L2

                                  Lar,

                                  then do what the 5th Foot and 77th Foot did at El Bodon in 1811 in
                                  just such a close situation- Charge Bayonets! They drove the French
                                  cavalry off the field by relying on the attack instead of defense.

                                  RWF
                                • craig w
                                  Some thoughts on Jim s thoughts, and the question at hand, I am trying to find the original reference for three rounds a minute and will post it as soon as I
                                  Message 16 of 22 , Oct 6, 2004
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    Some thoughts on Jim's thoughts, and the question at hand,

                                    I am trying to find the original reference for three rounds a minute
                                    and will post it as soon as I do. In the meanwhile, in response to the
                                    rest of the dialogue.

                                    In large battles it takes time for troops to come within effective
                                    firing distances so manuevering took awhile, while actual exchanges of
                                    fire could be quite short and sharp, (unless the battle has one side
                                    "entrenched" {eg,Hougamont}). A cartridge box can go quite a long time
                                    before it needs refilling.
                                    Having said that I'd like to point out that the issue cartridge box for
                                    the british army at this time was designed to hold 60 rounds of
                                    ammunition.One box full could last quite some time.

                                    Having fired a musket with live rounds, I'd like to point out that
                                    whereas yes the lock does get more and more fouled the barrel reaches a
                                    peek fouling point and then each successive round tends to scour or
                                    clear the barrel to a certain degree.
                                    The 3rd round doesn't go down as fast as the first but the 10th goes
                                    down as easily as the 3rd.
                                    Malfunctions on the field are usually related to ignition, dull flint,
                                    fouled touch-hole, fouled frizzen etc.
                                    I have yet to read an account of anyone pissing down the barrel, I'm
                                    not saying it didn't happen, I'm saying show me a primary source
                                    reference.

                                    The importance of "three rounds a minute" is that the line can only
                                    fire efficiently or with the most impact in volleys.
                                    The slowest loader in the company would therefore control the rate of
                                    fire. Three rounds was a great rate of fire when you think that your
                                    counting on 40 to 60* men to deliver them at company level and of
                                    course 600 to 1000* at battalion level.
                                    This becomes very important when faced with an attacking column. The
                                    column, impressive though it is, has a small frontage and is densely
                                    packed. It can only deliver small amounts of fire. A line can deliver
                                    an almost constant rain of lead when the regiment is given the order to
                                    fire by company from the left/right/centre (you pick). A Grand
                                    Battalion of 1500 to 1600 men are launching in the neighborhood of 100
                                    pounds of soft lead every volley.
                                    With training, an individual can load and fire five rounds a minute,
                                    but those people are the exception. Three is an acceptable norm.

                                    As to the comment about individuals firing 6 times a minute by
                                    "editing" the process. I feel that if your not using the drill, you're
                                    not functioning correctly and therefore records set without the full
                                    and proper drill are curiosities nothing more.
                                    Three or four rounds rammed and fired using the prescribed drill are
                                    impressive. Doing six by cutting corners in my opinion proves nothing
                                    if not that the person is flirting with serous injury.

                                    Tuppence,

                                    Craig W

                                    *the actual strength of units is almost always a fraction of what they
                                    warranted to have
                                  • HQ93rd@aol.com
                                    ... We ve got one of those in the 93rd....even hunts deer with his Brown Bess.... B 93rd SHRoFLHU www.93rdhighlanders.com THE Thin Red Line [Non-text portions
                                    Message 17 of 22 , Oct 7, 2004
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      In a message dated 6/10/2004 6:35:25 PM, sgtwarner@... writes:


                                      > With training, an individual can load and fire five rounds a minute,
                                      > but those people are the exception.
                                      >

                                      We've got one of those in the 93rd....even hunts deer with his Brown Bess....


                                      B
                                      93rd SHRoFLHU
                                      www.93rdhighlanders.com
                                      THE Thin Red Line


                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    • HQ93rd@aol.com
                                      All right already. All this talk about slicing melons at 20 yards and firing in square... So what melons were set up on the ridge at Waterloo in 1815, eh? The
                                      Message 18 of 22 , Oct 7, 2004
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        All right already. All this talk about slicing melons at 20 yards and firing
                                        in square...
                                        So what melons were set up on the ridge at Waterloo in 1815, eh? The French
                                        cav got blasted by the artillery and the infantry in square. Fact. No melons to
                                        be seen.
                                        Previously, at Quatre Bras, the 42nd lost almost an entire company and a
                                        colonel when French lancers jumped them. The "however" to the story (of course you
                                        knew it was coming!) was these same lancers then attempted to pounce upon the
                                        rest of the 42nd as they were still trying to form and close up their square.
                                        A number of them galloped into the forming ranks obviously thinking, "Aha! We
                                        have these saucy Eccosais types!", only to find themselves trapped inside
                                        when the 42nd continued to close square, and themselves Cav types subsequently
                                        extinguished.

                                        Personal revelation from the 1995 Waterloo event -- The Highland Brigade had
                                        our pipers take turns recreating the 79th's Piper. Kenneth McKay's feat of
                                        marching about and playing his pipes outside his square at Waterloo. Whilst our
                                        pipers did so, not one French horse could even be coerced to get anywhere near
                                        our square.
                                        So bring on the melons.
                                        We've got bagpipes.


                                        B
                                        93rd SHRoFLHU
                                        www.93rdhighlanders.com
                                        THE Thin Red Line


                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      • HQ93rd@aol.com
                                        ... Which is why they would fire by files or by sections. B 93rd SHRoFLHU www.93rdhighlanders.com THE Thin Red Line [Non-text portions of this message have
                                        Message 19 of 22 , Oct 7, 2004
                                        • 0 Attachment
                                          In a message dated 5/10/2004 3:19:17 PM, lalozon@... writes:


                                          >
                                          > From: "hm95thfoot" <fullerfamily@...>
                                          >
                                          > Then fix swords/bayonets, and form square, my good man! :^)
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > =========
                                          >
                                          >    At 80 yards they apparently could neither load fast enough
                                          > nor form square by the time the horses were upon them.
                                          >
                                          > L2
                                          >


                                          Which is why they would fire by files or by sections.

                                          B
                                          93rd SHRoFLHU
                                          www.93rdhighlanders.com
                                          THE Thin Red Line


                                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                        • ray.hobbs@sympatico.ca
                                          Some additional thoughts on the rate of fire of a musket and other stuff. Just to get one thing out of the way - I brought the six shots a minute thing up,
                                          Message 20 of 22 , Oct 7, 2004
                                          • 0 Attachment
                                            Some additional thoughts on the rate of fire of a musket and other stuff.

                                            Just to get one thing out of the way - I brought the "six shots a minute" thing up, and am surprised that
                                            the immediate reaction of some was that it must have been done by cheating. I have no indication that
                                            this was the case, and in fact, my sources tell me that it was in a controlled competition.

                                            As a comment on an ordered battle line, firing volleys by company etc. according to the best period drill
                                            manual I offer the following eye-witness account:

                                            “What precision of fire can be expected from soldiers when firing in line? One man is priming; another
                                            coming to the present; taking, what is called aim; a fourth ramming down his cartridge. After a few shots
                                            the whole body is closely enveloped in smoke, and the enemy is totally inviisble; some of the soldiers
                                            step out a pace or two, in order to get a better shot; others kneel down; and some have no objection to
                                            retire a step or two. the doomed begin to fall, dreadfully mutilated perhaps, and even bold men shrink
                                            from the sight; others are wounded, and assisted to the rear by their comrades, so that the whole
                                            becomes a line of utter confusion, in which the mass only think of getting heir shots fired, they hardly
                                            care how, or in what direction”.
                                            Maj. Gen. John Mitchell, cited in R. Muir, Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon,
                                            p. 85.

                                            Now, of course, this was not necessarily typical, but it did happen to a well-drilled line on occasion.
                                            This particular chapter in Muir's book (Ch. 5 Infantry Combat) contains many similar observations by
                                            eye-witnesses, and is a realistic counter to the notion of a rigidly inflexible line of redcoats keeping up
                                            sustained rates of fire. The fog of battle often dictates otherwise.

                                            On the suggestion of pissing down the barrel to clean it - just think, who would want to place his
                                            member anywhere near a metal tube that is difficult to hold because of its raised temperature? Seems
                                            like a most foolhardy thing, to threaten with danger the one appendage the soldier prized most ;->)

                                            My thoughts for the moment
                                            Ray Hobbs
                                            41st Regt.



                                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          • glifencible
                                            ... There is a reference in Red Coat and Brown Bess by Anthony Darling: On parade he was expected to deliver by word of command one shot every fifteen
                                            Message 21 of 22 , Oct 9, 2004
                                            • 0 Attachment
                                              > I am trying to find the original reference for three rounds a minute

                                              There is a reference in "Red Coat and Brown Bess" by Anthony Darling:

                                              "On parade he was expected to deliver by word of command one shot
                                              every fifteen seconds."

                                              There is a footnote:

                                              Simes, Thomas The Military Medly,p.23 London 1768. Cited in Peterson,
                                              Op. Cit. P 160. On the battlefield, three shots a minute would
                                              probably be average for a well-trained and disciplined body of men
                                              while advancing.

                                              Regards
                                              Bill
                                            • dancingbobd@webtv.net
                                              Symes The Military Medley is available from Kings Arms Press. Bob Dorian
                                              Message 22 of 22 , Oct 11, 2004
                                              • 0 Attachment
                                                Symes' The Military Medley is available from Kings Arms Press.

                                                Bob Dorian
                                              Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.