Aiming a Brown Bess?

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by Griz44Mag, Apr 1, 2019.

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  1. Apr 24, 2019 #81

    Redcoat76

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    Note: on follow up a two hundred yard shot at a single target is still amazing. I have seen 100yrds shots but 200 AWSOME
     
  2. Apr 24, 2019 #82

    Artificer

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    First, WELCOME to the Forum!!

    I believe you are confusing the Battle of Cowpens (where Banastre Tarleton commanded the British Forces) with the Battle of Guilford Court House, that was fought not long afterwards. American General Nathaniel Greene attempted to use Dan Morgan's tactics from Cowpens, but didn't get it quite correct. Even so, General Lord Cornwallis had to have his Artillery fire on his own troops mixed with American Troops. Though technically a British Victory, it bled them so badly it began Lord Cornwallis' march and eventual retreat to Yorktown.

    Gus
     
  3. Apr 24, 2019 #83

    Redcoat76

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    Thanks Gus your right sorry I messed up on that I rember the Gaurds took heavy casualties there.
     
  4. Apr 25, 2019 #84

    Artificer

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    No need to apologize and once again, welcome to the forum!

    Gus
     
  5. Apr 25, 2019 #85

    FlinterNick

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    My mistake Dave, confused the casualty rate with the effective capture and kill wound ratio. Morgan more or less used the militia as a type of lore to drag in the British who were already outgunned in the battle. A lot of that militia was also was the forces that stood up against Ferguson at Kings Mountain, they were often described as the worst human beings in North America.

    I think the most comical part was Cornwallis’s reaction to the news of Tarelton’s defeat, it was rumored that Cornwallis leaned on his word in frustration so hard that it broke into two pieces.

    Nick
     
  6. Apr 25, 2019 #86

    Artificer

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    Nick,

    Please understand that I am not trying to nitpick you and I agree the Patriots had more troops than Tarleton, but the British had more than enough "force multipliers" to have won the Battle of Cowpens, had Morgan not come up with such brilliant tactics that day and Tarleton not underestimated him.

    First of all, Morgan had chosen the ground for the battle very carefully and his troops had some time to rest before the battle. Tarleton had been chasing Morgan and his troops were very tired before the battle and did not have their normal rations. Troops that are hungry and tired are much more likely to make severe mistakes and of course could not fight as well, as if they had had even a day to rest up before the battle.

    A huge part of Morgan's men were Militia, who did not normally do well against British Regulars. Morgan had some Regulars, but at best they normally would only have come close to the British 7th and 71st (Fraser's Highlanders). Further, Morgan had no artillery and only a small force of cavalry, who were not as good troops as Tarleton's cavalry. It seems Tarleton only had two 3lb "Grasshopper" Guns, but had he used them effectively, they would have done a good deal of damage at breaking up Morgan's formations.

    Had Tarleton not underestimated Morgan and Tarleton not ordered his troops to rush in too early, rather than properly "setting up" the battlefield, Tarleton could, if not would have won. But to give Tarleton some credit, Morgan had come up with completely new Tactics and Tarleton was just not a good enough Field Commander to have overcome them. Heck, even Lord Cornwallis, who was an excellent Field Commander, had severe troubles with "Morgan's Tactics" as used by Nathaniel Greene, though Cornwallis won at Guilford Courthouse, if only a pyrrhic victory.

    Gus
     
  7. Apr 25, 2019 #87

    tenngun

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    History is full of examples where the wrong side won. Caught in some trap and out generaled. However in most every case it was the fault of the looser underestimating the enemy. Custer at ‘greasy grass’, or Hooker at Chancellorsville. Certainly Trenton or DDay and Kings Mountain. And on and on.
     
  8. Apr 26, 2019 #88

    kipcarter

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    I believe that you have Cowpens and Guildford Courthouse mixed up.
     
  9. Apr 28, 2019 #89

    FlinterNick

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    Hi Gus, I always welcome info.

    Cornwallis and Tarelton were almost always outnumbered in the Southern campgain battles, Camden, Cowpens, Kingsmountain (Ferguson), Guildford and Yorktown were all battles in which Cornwallis found himself relying on superior tactics and American blunders as seen at Camden, Charleston and the raids on Virginia.

    Most of the American victories in the American Revolution were largely due to the British contempt for the American forces and their contempt for the militia. One can hardly blame them however when suffer the consequences of defeat, I’m sure they sat back and realized that they needed to take every fight serious.
     
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  10. Apr 29, 2019 #90

    Artificer

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    The one Battle in the South where the forces were truly lopsided in the American favour was King's Mountain, EVEN THOUGH the British outnumbered the Americans 1,100-1,200 (British) to the Americans 900, so by the force numbers, the Americans were factually outnumbered there.

    Ferguson had been running and almost made it to the safety of British Lines, but could not quite make it. The Americans had sent their best men on their best horses and thus they had by far the largest number of experienced combat veterans, with experience at far rougher combat than the British Loyalists had seen.

    Not only that, but the Americans were not just a force of tough frontiersmen with far greater combat experience, those men had "Blood in their Eyes" arguably much more so than any good size force of Americans had yet come with to battle in the War. It can never be stressed too much that Cornwallis had STUPIDLY threatened the families of those Frontiersmen with "Fire and Sword" and he and Ferguson posted those threats with printed broadsheets in many areas. Perhaps Cornwallis only meant it as a threat and never would have actually done it, BUT those Frontiersmen took the threat as absolutely genuine. EVERYONE in those days completely understood that threat was to kill every man, woman and child of any who opposed Cornwallis and then burn to the ground any property the British could not carry off with them.

    WOW, talk about force multipliers!!!! The Americans were coming to kill every last British (Ferguson) or British American Loyalist Soldier, who represented the force behind the threat to MURDER every last one of the frontiersmen's families and friends. I am truly surprised that after the Battle of King's Mountain was won, that those Americans took any British prisoners at all. I suspect had the frontiersmen not had to climb up the hillside and retreat downhill and climb up again so often, and thus were very fatigued at the end of the battle, they may not have taken any British Prisoners at all.

    Gus
     
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  11. Apr 29, 2019 #91

    FlinterNick

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    Agree Gus, The Over Moutainmen were the probably the worst kind of people in regards to character and temperament that the British (Cornwallis and Co.) could have pissed off in 1780. While their numbers initially were around 900, there were many militia that would follow into Sycamore Sholes in reserve, the actual number in battle was around 900, at battles end the American ranks swelled mostly because nobody wanted to be branded as a loyalist now that the Over Moutnainmen were had coalesced for a fight, if you’re on their bad side you’re on the side that will need to keep a candle lit at night.

    The whole issue with the Southern strategy that was flawed was its intention to swell the British ranks with loyalists and disaffected continentals, it simply did not work. The South in 1780 was very much enjoying its own freedoms just as much as the rest of the colonies, and submitting to British rule of taxation, and subjection of personal rights without representation in parliament, disrespect of personal property, and the freedom for slaves who fought for the crown etc. all of these issues were affronts to recruiting loyalists troops.

    It almost always ended the same for the British in every strategy..... lets march from Canada with 10,000 men in 1777, dont worry about roads and we can climb and cut ..... meanwhile during the march the entire countryside showed up to meet them at Saratoga. In 1781 Cornwallis marched himself from South Carolina to North Carolina out of men and supplies, and then again into Virginia while Benedict Arnold and William Phillips raided the country side burning and plundering... again the country side swelled around Yorktown and Williamsburg lay Seeger in Virginia to meet Washington and the French (who they were not overly trusting of)... it was never going to work for the British with their formal strategies. They could win 10 battles to the Americans 1 and never win the war. In the War of 1812 the British again found themselves in a similar situation, and Wellington warned them to seek terms or fight an endless war.
     
  12. May 1, 2019 #92

    rattinox

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    If you take a look in "Battle Weapons of the American Revolution" by George C. Neumann, you'll see than nearly all of the native made American/Colonial-made "Brown Bess" muskets had a much longer drop in the comb for much more precise aiming.

    My own Bess design (Pennsylvania state contract-made Bess during the Rev War) had a cherry stock, and beautiful "Roman Nose" butt with sweet natural aim.......and was fool enough never to have uploaded any pix to PhotoBucket to share........stupid!!
     
  13. May 1, 2019 #93

    Loyalist Dave

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    Unfortunately as for the overall war, the numbers of Colonial made muskets did not have that much impact. The war was won with surplus French arms. ;)

    LD
     
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  14. May 2, 2019 #94

    franky4me

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    You do not "aim" a Bess ... The drill of the period called soldiers to "Level your firelock.... Fire" nobody expected a Red Coat to aim at anything in particular !
     
  15. May 2, 2019 #95

    Artificer

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    That was somewhat true until the FIW. British Soldiers were taught to "present" their firelocks and then ordered to fire. Very early Drill Manuals even mentioned turning the soldier's head to the right, so the Huge Flash from the oversize Touch Hole on the Firelock to the Soldier's left, would not burn/hurt his eyes.

    However, by the time of the FIW, British Regiments were not only teaching the Soldiers to aim, but in many cases - offered small cash or other prizes to the Soldiers who shot the best.

    Gus
     
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  16. May 2, 2019 #96

    Redcoat76

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    The British formed the Corp of rifleman for there best shots in the revolution. Fergunson who was commander at Kings Moutain was the very same man who almost ended Washingtons life. But shooting a officer in the back while doing his duty in the field was cowardly. The colonials I am sure never offered such curtesy to the British. Plus for aiming and firing a bess commanded orders was Prime and load. Make ready. Present your firelock Fire. The purpose throw as much lead at the approaching enemy line. So very little aiming when in battle lines. Plus usually three shots a minuet by about the first 30mins of battle. Bayonet charge followed.
     
  17. May 3, 2019 #97

    FlinterNick

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    Agree Dave, American Made muskets were not only small in numbers but also poorer quality. Most were made with surplus parts from older Brown Bess Muskets, older French Muskets and cheaper Dutch Muskets; older worn down barrels, and forged parts as well. The French arms supplied really provided the army with a standard weapon that was reliable.
     
  18. May 3, 2019 #98

    FlinterNick

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    The account of Ferguson’s recuse to take out Washington is somewhat of debated topic. Fergusons actual accounts were simply that he had a high ranking officer in his sights but decided to not take the shot due to his back facing him; there was intel that Washington was in the area around Brandywine and Chadsford, PA however there were also many other generals in the area. Ferguson also explained that the man in his sights was wearing a Hussar, typical dress of a European high ranking officers, this could have been one of a few enlisted Generals from Europe.

    Ferguson was likely carrying his newly issued breech loading rifle, not a Brown Bess. If he was carrying a smoothbore, it would have likely been a Fusil not a heavier musket, Fuslils were often carried by rank and file officers, which Ferguson was at the time. British Fusils take a smaller round, at about .63/.64 and they weight about 3 lbs less than your average Long Land Bess or Short Land Bess. A marksmen with a light weight smoothbore and properly seated patched ball could hit a man on a horse at 50-100 yards much easier than he could with a standard. .78 caliber Brown Bess.
     
  19. May 3, 2019 #99

    FlinterNick

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    The French had a nice system of concentrated firing. They would take three men and have them fire subsequently one after the other, one show, second shot, third shot... with 2-3 men reloading behind them providing fresh muskets. This tactic worked well firing from high positions down on targets. The French Muskets were also much more designed for comfortable shooting with the Roman nose design of the 1728 and 1746 muskets and lighter versions, so this allowed for much better aiming than the Brown Bess Patterns 1730 and 1740; French muskets had more drop and were lighter in weight, they were almost too delicate for military use.
     
  20. May 3, 2019 #100

    FlinterNick

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    Well any musket can be aimed, the drill procedures are what they are but many soldiers would attempt to hit their chosen target which in the field could be anything from a hat to head to a muzzle flash.

    The volley method was largely incorporated by the British to speed up firing and reloading time; taking out the aim command made sense with large masses of troops.
     

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