145 grs of Powder?

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

Diogenes454

32 Cal.
Joined
Apr 7, 2007
Messages
99
Reaction score
40
I reading "The Indispensables" by O'DONNELL. About the Mariners during the revolution.
On page 41, last paragraph, he states a pound of powder contained approx 7000 grs.enough powder for 48 shots. This works out to 145 grs per charge.
Does that sound right?
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
20,872
Reaction score
16,037
Location
Republic mo
One has to think about the men loading under fire. Nerves had to lead to spillage, and ‘over primed’ pans
They had fifteen seconds to load, crack troops could do it in twelve. A bet a hundred and twenty or even less went down the bore
I’ve heard powder wasn’t as powerful, and gents carried powder testers to adjust their charges with different types of powder.
But.
When the first ballistic velocity test were done FPS speeds were in the ball park of todays powder
American powder was natoris for being poor. Our first frigates had 24 pound guns. Most frigate had twelve or eighteens. But poor powder met the Americans needed bigger to be equal
 

Loyalist Dave

Cannon
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
12,690
Reaction score
7,354
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
I reading "The Indispensables" by O'DONNELL. About the Mariners during the revolution.
On page 41, last paragraph, he states a pound of powder contained approx 7000 grs.enough powder for 48 shots. This works out to 145 grs per charge.
Does that sound right?


So here is a reference from 1776

The ball-cartridges should be made by the Pioniers under the direction of the Quarter-master-serjeant, at the rate of forty five to a pint of powder ;

As the yearly allowance of Ammunition is very small, except on Service, every method is required for œconomy, if a Commanding-officer wishes to have it in his power, to practice his Battalion to fire, Cartridges therefore used at common Exercise should not be under sixty to a pint, though at other times, fifty may be the calculation.

from Cuthbertson's system for the complete interior management and oeconomy of a battalion of infantry 1776

So Cuthbertson is giving anywhere from 155 grains to 140 grains for combat ammo, and for target ammo, he's suggesting they use at most 116 grains per cartridge.


By 1800 the ammo had not changed much..,

The regimental companion; containing the relative duties of every officer in the British Army; and rendering the principles of system and responsibility familiar v.1 c. 1800

The proportion of ammunition for an infantry regiment is 60 rounds for each man for service at six drams each cartridge…,

The usual quantity of ammunition which is given to a regiment of dragoons is 1 pound of powder for service, …., each cartridge to contain the same as those ordered for the foot. …, at 6 drams each cartridge.


So that's 160-165 grains depending on how accurate the measure. A proper dram is 27.3 grains. They may have used something more like just 27 grains, AND we don't know the size of the powder, although it's likely very similar to our 2Fg, but we also don't know how diligent the screening process for the powder, which could give a wide variation from barrel of powder to barrel of powder.

Here is not only the amount of powder per cartridge, BUT also the ball size. NOTE that the .75-.77 caliber musket barrel is an 11 bore, but the balls are listed as 14½ bore. That's slightly larger than .690.

The regimental companion; containing the relative duties of every officer in the British Army; and rendering the principles of system and responsibility familiar v.2 c. 1800

An account of the quantity of powder used in making up cartridges of the following natures, and the number of balls in one pound weight of lead.



Wall Piece 10 [270 grains] 6⅓ balls per lb.
[approx .90]

Musquet 6 [165 grains] 14½ balls per lb.

Carbine, musquet bore 5½ [148-150 grains] 14½ balls per lb.

Ditto pistol musquet bore 3½ [95 grains] 20 balls per lb.

Carbine 4 [108 -110 grains] 20 balls per lb.

Carbine pistol 3 [ 80 grains] 20 balls per lb.

Common pistol 3 [ 80 grains] 34 balls per lb.


Seven barrel gun 1½ [40 grains] 46½ balls per lb.


LD
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
20,872
Reaction score
16,037
Location
Republic mo
Lyman ballistic book found a bess loaded with a PRB of .715 that a fifty grain charge yielded 662 fPS. A hundred grain charge 1006, an increase of 340 fPS but 150 1213 fPS just a gain of 200 fps
It looks like diminishing returns really kick in after 100-110.
This was with 2F, so I suspect 1-1 1/2 could go a little higher
From a military point of view a 1000-1100 Fps bess ball was hitting harder at a hundred yards tgen the .58 minnie with a service charge.
 

Loyalist Dave

Cannon
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
12,690
Reaction score
7,354
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
Lyman ballistic book found a bess loaded with a PRB of .715 that a fifty grain charge yielded 662 fPS. A hundred grain charge 1006, an increase of 340 fPS but 150 1213 fPS just a gain of 200 fps

Lyman wasn't using powder as made by the British, two centuries ago. ;)

LD
 

Loyalist Dave

Cannon
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
12,690
Reaction score
7,354
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
This is true, and we tend to think of powder as more powerful today. However looking at early ballistic test, done with pendulums and testing penetration they got results in the ball park of what we get now.

Well the powder that was tested might be close to what we have today, but alas the author did not make a survey of all of the "battle" powder that was being made in England, nor did he make a survey to show that the Army was always obtaining "government battle powder" for musket ammunition. Further, he may not have actually tested every powder from the continent, but does in his work, acknowledge that there is better powder to be had than the English battle powder. He assumes that one type of powder much better than English battle must be too expensive..., but he doesn't actually know. He also specifies that the battle powder must be "properly wrought" which is a tacit admission that perhaps it was not always so, and further, that English powder was often made worse (which contradicts the first paragraph below), and his lack of surveying all of the sources of battle powder, and lack of sampling the Army powder of even checking on the source of procurement, makes possible the supposition and observations of the actual users of the time, that the English powder of the era was inferior to others, and thus likely to ours today.

“…, I must premise, that the government powder, if properly wrought, is, I believe, nearly as good as any powder made for general use. I have examined it with great care, and have compared it with other powders made here in England, which are esteemed the best, such as Battle, & c. and I cannot find any sensible difference between them. I have likewise compared it, in frequent trials with Spanish powder, taken out of the St. Jago prize [ship] ; and though, if I were to give my opinion, I should rather believe the Spanish powder the better of the two, yet so small an inequality …,

…, I conceive too, by comparing the experiments of others with my own, that the French powder is little different from ours ; although I cannot be so certain on this head as I could wish, having never been able to procure any of their powder myself.

…, But it must be remembered, that when I speak of our government powder, it must be what is supposed to be made of the standard proportions of materials, and properly wrought ; ….,

The strongest powder, I have yet met with, is some which I am told was made in Holland ; its force, compared with that of our government powder, is nearly as 5 to 4. But this powder is undoubtedly made of the choicest picked materials, and is probably wrought up with spirits ; so that quantities of it could not be made, but at a much greater expence, than what would be repaid by its additional strength.

The next best powder, that has come to my hands, is a powder made in Portugal, under the direction of a Dutchman, …, This is in strength inferior to the Dutch powder last mentioned ; but is however nearer to that than to our government powder.

The common sale powder here in England, such as is to be had at every grocer’s, is much worse than the government or the battle powder, and extremely various, according to the caprice of the maker. "
New Principles of Gunnery pp.117-118 c. 1805

LD
 

Red Owl

45 Cal.
Joined
Jan 26, 2021
Messages
514
Reaction score
358
Location
Florida
The other thing is whether a Brown Bess/Committee of safety musket of one of the .69 caliber French muskets was used. One reason we went with the French was less powder.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
20,872
Reaction score
16,037
Location
Republic mo
Well the powder that was tested might be close to what we have today, but alas the author did not make a survey of all of the "battle" powder that was being made in England, nor did he make a survey to show that the Army was always obtaining "government battle powder" for musket ammunition. Further, he may not have actually tested every powder from the continent, but does in his work, acknowledge that there is better powder to be had than the English battle powder. He assumes that one type of powder much better than English battle must be too expensive..., but he doesn't actually know. He also specifies that the battle powder must be "properly wrought" which is a tacit admission that perhaps it was not always so, and further, that English powder was often made worse (which contradicts the first paragraph below), and his lack of surveying all of the sources of battle powder, and lack of sampling the Army powder of even checking on the source of procurement, makes possible the supposition and observations of the actual users of the time, that the English powder of the era was inferior to others, and thus likely to ours today.

“…, I must premise, that the government powder, if properly wrought, is, I believe, nearly as good as any powder made for general use. I have examined it with great care, and have compared it with other powders made here in England, which are esteemed the best, such as Battle, & c. and I cannot find any sensible difference between them. I have likewise compared it, in frequent trials with Spanish powder, taken out of the St. Jago prize [ship] ; and though, if I were to give my opinion, I should rather believe the Spanish powder the better of the two, yet so small an inequality …,

…, I conceive too, by comparing the experiments of others with my own, that the French powder is little different from ours ; although I cannot be so certain on this head as I could wish, having never been able to procure any of their powder myself.

…, But it must be remembered, that when I speak of our government powder, it must be what is supposed to be made of the standard proportions of materials, and properly wrought ; ….,

The strongest powder, I have yet met with, is some which I am told was made in Holland ; its force, compared with that of our government powder, is nearly as 5 to 4. But this powder is undoubtedly made of the choicest picked materials, and is probably wrought up with spirits ; so that quantities of it could not be made, but at a much greater expence, than what would be repaid by its additional strength.

The next best powder, that has come to my hands, is a powder made in Portugal, under the direction of a Dutchman, …, This is in strength inferior to the Dutch powder last mentioned ; but is however nearer to that than to our government powder.


The common sale powder here in England, such as is to be had at every grocer’s, is much worse than the government or the battle powder, and extremely various, according to the caprice of the maker. "
New Principles of Gunnery pp.117-118 c. 1805

LD
Certainly powder varied and varies from todays. When the first edition of Lyman black powder ballistics came out Curtis Harvey was on the list. Today Swiss is hotter then GO and Schutzen is in between. I still have some elephant. I mix a 1/4 cup to 2/4 cup GO for my smoothies.
Several folk are making their own. So no doubt there was lots of variations back in the day.
Powder testers were a gentleman’s shooting tool.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
20,872
Reaction score
16,037
Location
Republic mo
The other thing is whether a Brown Bess/Committee of safety musket of one of the .69 caliber French muskets was used. One reason we went with the French was less powder.
I had never heard that before. I have heard the charley called the AK47 of its day as so many countries copied it. Though north Central Europe tended to make their own besses
I had always attributed American Charlies to anti British feeling and the Francophile feeling of so many of our early statesman
 

JB67

45 Cal.
Joined
May 1, 2019
Messages
839
Reaction score
746
Location
Mid-Coast Maine
The other thing is whether a Brown Bess/Committee of safety musket of one of the .69 caliber French muskets was used. One reason we went with the French was less powder.
The French had guns, and we needed them. If they were .80 cal, we'd still have taken them.
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2022
Messages
211
Reaction score
288
Location
Hutto, TX
I reading "The Indispensables" by O'DONNELL. About the Mariners during the revolution.
On page 41, last paragraph, he states a pound of powder contained approx 7000 grs.enough powder for 48 shots. This works out to 145 grs per charge.
Does that sound right?
Military loads are generally considered "hot" by today's standards. Of course they would use a couple grains of powder for priming, but powder was also not as refined as today, so it was probably weaker than by today's standards.
 

Red Owl

45 Cal.
Joined
Jan 26, 2021
Messages
514
Reaction score
358
Location
Florida
The United States actually did some studying on the matter. We asked ourselves if the larger caliber ball of the Brown Bess was more effective on the battlefield? The results seem to indicate that the slightly smaller French ball was just as good and the soldier could carry more ammunition. There were other benefits, steel ramrod, bands rather than pins to hold the barrel, etc. It cost us $10 to buy Committee of Safety muskets from the Pennsylvania gunsmiths but we could buy French muskets for $6. A huge savings. After we won the war the reason we had our muskets copy the French is because we thought it the better musket. A couple of other things, there was plenty of money in the United States, the congress simply didn't want to properly fund the army. Private sources such as Robert Morris saved the day. The other common misconception was the French gave us muskets for free.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
20,872
Reaction score
16,037
Location
Republic mo
In terms of battlefield effectiveness small arms seem to make little difference. The M1 was self loading but all and all Brit’s and Germans did well with bolt actions.
Ammo advantage is a point. A few extra shots for the same weight is for sure a good point, but fire fights were over pretty quick. Battles could last all day, but a regiment or company was only trading fire for a few minutes. Most of the battle was moving troops.
Even at a big set battle like Waterloo. Individual regiments were used up pretty fast.
It’s hard to believe these days but there was a time when our congress was concerned with spending money inefficiently. Honest to God, they were careful how they spent money.
However
Old congress could be as silly at time
During the war of 1812 congress voted to change uniforms
All and all though they thought in terms of real money at one time
 
Top