1766 Charleville Muskets

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Enfield1

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How early could a Continental soldier have been armed with a 1766 Charleville musket? I have read conflicting accounts. I read that the first use was in the battle of Freeman’s farm and the 3rd New York’s defense of Fort Stanwix. I know that after France officially became part of the cause, that they came in by the thousands, but did the have an impact earlier in the struggle?
 
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French were sending guns over early, before France recognized the Union. France was walking on eggshells not wanting war, but allowing companies to transport arms.
I wonder if something earlier even was sent over.
Then there were stands of guns from the F and I that were still in armories here in America
After 1763 the French were doing back door smuggling via Spain/New Orleans to get supplies to Indians.
 
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How early could a Continental soldier have been armed with a 1766 Charleville musket? I have read conflicting accounts. I read that the first use was in the battle of Freeman’s farm and the 3rd New York’s defense of Fort Stanwix. I know that after France officially became part of the cause, that they came in by the thousands, but did the have an impact earlier in the struggle?

In the earliest part of the War 1774/75 in the very early days of the revolution, there were likely very few 1763’s or 1766 muskets in North America. Most French Arms in circulation were the 1717 patterns and variants (1717-1754). These muskets were captured guns from the F&I War. The capture of french forts, Quebec and Caribbean colonies yielded an enormous cache of arms. Many of these were distributed to the colonies and over time were broken down and parted out by the time of the revolutionary war. These parts are often found on american committee of safety muskets and continental army homemade muskets.

In 1775/76 with the first shipment of arms to the colonies from France under false corporations, what was shipped over were older models 1746, 1754, rampart guns, and the 1763’s. To avoid being accused of arming the colonies, the french shipped over the bulk of these in parts and were stocked in America. Its not uncommon to find a 1763 musket with parts on an American stock. As the War progressed after 1776 through Saratoga and France’s support was outright, entire muskets of the models 1763, 1766 and 1770/74 variants were shipped over through 1779 with bayonets.

Most of these guns were of the models 1763 and 1766 with the 1763 being the more rare of the two. Around 100,000 1763’s were produced by France and another 250,000 of the 1766-1768. The 1774 was the most advanced french musket, which was a hybrid of the 1766 and 1777 french muskets,

The 1763 and 1766 were used as prototypes for the later 1795. The very first 1795 Springfields were almost identical copies of the 1768 Charleville musket with some subtle differences in the buttstock and barrel design.
 

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There is a common thought that France sent us all sorts of free supplies and weapons. After Saratoga they joined the War against England but that was later on. As I understand it, in the early days it cost the continental congress about $10 for a committee of safety musket but they could get muskets from France for $6 so that's what they did. Some were 1766 but a lot were earlier models and not that good.
 
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There is a common thought that France sent us all sorts of free supplies and weapons. After Saratoga they joined the War against England but that was later on. As I understand it, in the early days it cost the continental congress about $10 for a committee of safety musket but they could get muskets from France for $6 so that's what they did. Some were 1766 but a lot were earlier models and not that good.

In late 1775 early 1776, parts shipments were coming over. Locks, barrels, ramrods etc. The French were cleaning out their surplus parts.
 

Loyalist Dave

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How early could a Continental soldier have been armed with a 1766 Charleville musket? I have read conflicting accounts. I read that the first use was in the battle of Freeman’s farm and the 3rd New York’s defense of Fort Stanwix. I know that after France officially became part of the cause, that they came in by the thousands, but did the have an impact earlier in the struggle?

A let us not confuse Continental Soldier with colonial militia. Unfortunately even living history battel participants do this. The militia would be much more likely to have a hodge-podge of muskets, and very often NO bayonets. This of course depends on the colony.

Maryland, for example, had a colonial arsenal AND bought some muskets a few years before the AWI and this included muskets, swords, and pistols, so Maryland Militia and "early" Maryland Continental units should have LLP Bess from the 1740's. Maryland also embarked on production of muskets inside the colony when the AWI began, these muskets following a British pattern, most likely because some of the unserviceable old muskets did have good parts.

Pennsylvania by contrast, had no mandatory militia service let alone no arsenal, so PA Militia should have the least amount of actual British or French muskets, early in the war.

In my opinion when I see an "early" group of Continentals with French muskets, mixed with some other guns, I think they are "doing it right". When I have seen militia units mostly with civilian guns, and a few "Bess" but upon closer exam the few Bess have a different lock..., so they are meant to be American made with a combination of parts from other, older guns, they are doing a good job too.

LD
 

Red Owl

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I'm not that knowledgeable on this, what about the Committee of Safety muskets? Were they bought by states or the federal government?
 
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I'm not that knowledgeable on this, what about the Committee of Safety muskets? Were they bought by states or the federal government?

Committee of safety muskets were more or less a compilation of parts used. There were a few designed in batches that had some standardized designs. Generally they were all shortland patterns.
 

Loyalist Dave

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I'm not that knowledgeable on this, what about the Committee of Safety muskets? Were they bought by states or the federal government?
So there wasn't a "federal government" per se. There was Congress, which we often think of as the same as the current Federal government because it was the overall governing body for the colonies, as our government is for The States, but it had much much less authority. Some were funded by Congress, but it wasn't a "national" type purchase the way we think today.

The Maryland built muskets were contracted by several Committees of Safety within the colony. Some CoS muskets were contracted by a CoS at the county level, within a colony.

Committee of safety muskets were more or less a compilation of parts used. There were a few designed in batches that had some standardized designs. Generally they were all shortland patterns.

UM well, no not really. You must remember that SLP Bess were quite rare here in the colonies at the start of the hostilities, which is also the time when the colonies were building their own muskets. However, there were several types of LLP muskets that were available, not to mention the Dutch muskets.

So when one sees a musket that appears to be an original CoS musket, it's more than likely shortened to a length similar to the SLP Bess because the British shortened a lot of LLP muskets by 4" from 46" barrels down to 42".

This is pretty evident by the numerous rounded side plates that are found on CoS muskets, from several different colonies. The locks were quite often surplus locks, OR American made. So the SLP side plate being flat is a lot easier to make than the LLP style where the lock bolts are nestled into the lock plate. If they were copying the SLP they'd a used the flat side plate. They had no qualms about flat side plates when making French-ish CoS muskets or Dutch-like Cos muskets.


Massachusetts

Committee of Safety Mass .jpg



From the National Museum of American History

Committee of Safety Nat Museum American History.jpg



From Virginia

Committee of Safety Virginia .jpg


From Philadelphia PA

Committee of Safety Philadelphia.jpg



LD
 
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So there wasn't a "federal government" per se. There was Congress, which we often think of as the same as the current Federal government because it was the overall governing body for the colonies, as our government is for The States, but it had much much less authority. Some were funded by Congress, but it wasn't a "national" type purchase the way we think today.

The Maryland built muskets were contracted by several Committees of Safety within the colony. Some CoS muskets were contracted by a CoS at the county level, within a colony.



UM well, no not really. You must remember that SLP Bess were quite rare here in the colonies at the start of the hostilities, which is also the time when the colonies were building their own muskets. However, there were several types of LLP muskets that were available, not to mention the Dutch muskets.

So when one sees a musket that appears to be an original CoS musket, it's more than likely shortened to a length similar to the SLP Bess because the British shortened a lot of LLP muskets by 4" from 46" barrels down to 42".

This is pretty evident by the numerous rounded side plates that are found on CoS muskets, from several different colonies. The locks were quite often surplus locks, OR American made. So the SLP side plate being flat is a lot easier to make than the LLP style where the lock bolts are nestled into the lock plate. If they were copying the SLP they'd a used the flat side plate. They had no qualms about flat side plates when making French-ish CoS muskets or Dutch-like Cos muskets.


Massachusetts

View attachment 174116


From the National Museum of American History

View attachment 174117


From Virginia

View attachment 174118

From Philadelphia PA

View attachment 174119


LD

Didn’t the earliest Shortland patterns have a convex side plate.?

The rapphanock muskets weren’t 42” barrels?

Agree to your point that most of them were reconfigured longlands
 

Loyalist Dave

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Didn’t the earliest Shortland patterns have a convex side plate.?
No, that idea was around for a while but Bailey hasn't ever found (iirc) an SLP with the older style side plate, nor records of such...

Of course, archaeology is subject to change...

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No, that idea was around for a while but Bailey hasn't ever found (iirc) an SLP with the older style side plate, nor records of such...

Of course, archaeology is subject to change...

LD
I think the idea of a short land with a rounded sideplate came from some 1756 pattern long lands that that were shortened to 42" barrels. I have one such Bess in my collection. It had been shortened and the nosecap and pipes moved back. You can still see the inlets from where the original pipes were. Just a guess on my part, but I would bet that's why there is some confusion about early short lands with the rounded sideplate.
 

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I think the idea of a short land with a rounded sideplate came from some 1756 pattern long lands that that were shortened to 42" barrels. I have one such Bess in my collection. It had been shortened and the nosecap and pipes moved back. You can still see the inlets from where the original pipes were. Just a guess on my part, but I would bet that's why there is some confusion about early short lands with the rounded sideplate.

That’s possible.

Other variants of the 42” Brown Bess Muskets were made with rounded side plates.

Early dragoon muskets, light infantry fusils and marine and milita muskets.

I could imagine that SOME early short lands had uses left over surplus convex side plates as they were designed to fit the 1755 lock, its plausible but not likely in very high numbers.
 

Loyalist Dave

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I think the idea of a short land with a rounded sideplate came from some 1756 pattern long lands that that were shortened to 42" barrels. I have one such Bess in my collection. It had been shortened and the nosecap and pipes moved back. You can still see the inlets from where the original pipes were. Just a guess on my part, but I would bet that's why there is some confusion about early short lands with the rounded sideplate.
That and the very similar "small run" muskets that some of the more wealthy military men had made, paid from their own funds that were Bess-esque, that were later approved by the military, so not very obvious they are not "officially" one model or another. Some of the British militia muskets are similar to the SLP Bess, and there is a cavalry carbine that is older, but similar and thought to be the ancestor of the SLP pattern.

LD
 
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