Brown Bess -Why

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Gus back to my original argument with the angry fellas statement was that you MUST not call it a bayonet lug, this is just not logical.

Its not that the stud isn’t used as a front sight, or isn’t a front sight, at some point the ordnance department found the improvement of the socket bayonet to allow for a greater augmentation of the musket uses when piked, as our West Point fella said which is probably the only accurate thing he said too.

With the advent of the socket bayonet as early as the George the first and Queen Ann Muskets (Dutch Versions Outfitted with socket bayonets, not the dog locks). This allowed musket builders to take that stud and give it a dual purpose. It was a purse cost saving opportunity the British ordinance department took full advantage of for the next 200 years. No front sight and lug mounted beneath the muzzle, no extra brass or steel, no casting or forging cost, no brazing cost. This probably equates to the same cost of mounting, brazing or dovetailing a barrel tenon.

The stud at the end of the barrel serves a dual purpose with its primary as a bayonet lug.

And in that primary statement i make, let me be clear in the 1764 manual of arms, fitting the socket bayonet came before any presentation to fire, primary.

I’m not argument the stud isn’t also a front sight, I just don’t see how anyone can logically say it is one or the other which is why writers such as Bailey denote it as a sight / stud or lug / and sight.

Now I will question its effectiveness in combat as a front sight, we can debate the effectiveness all day about how its shape down range can be used to aim, what you can’t really debate is the talent of the shooter to make good use of that sight, especially with that bayonet on there when fitting.

In a situation where the present to fire command is given without bayonets fixed, I absolutely agree its a front sight in that circumstance.

The one or the other argument…. serves a dual purpose and can be called a bayonet lug or a sight or a stud.

I'm not entirely sure I follow your complete post, but that's OK.

In early posts today, I've shown indisputable evidence that front sights were used for a long time on British Muskets before they ever used a socket bayonet.

There would have been no need for a front sight, if they weren't using it to aim and they did volley firing in the 17th century with those muskets.

What has been demonstrated is the sight was then ALSO used as a bayonet lug after the socket bayonet was invented and came into general use in the British Army.

Both British Ordnance and the British Army continued to call that part the "sight" long after the socket bayonet was used.

This and personal experience using it as a sight with bayonets fixed, is why I have been writing it was a (front) sight that then did double duty as a bayonet lug after the socket bayonet was invented and used.

Gus
 
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Let me speak from personal experience using paper wrapped cartridges during woods walks where we are firing multiple rounds at a station.

Consistent with standard military practice we load our paper cartridges using pretty dirty powder (Reenactor grade) but we use a 0.715" diameter ball. To conserve time for making our cartridges, we do not lubricate the ball end. After two or three shots the fouling is building up quite a bit and loading becomes difficult to the point of balls sticking in the bore. One method to ease loading is to spit on the ball end of the cartridge or put the ball end in one's mouth to moisten the paper. I can easily load as the fouling builds up. Then after shooting is halted, I spit on my ball of tow on a thread to wipe the bore to remove most of the fouling. That can also be done during the firing, but that can mean one less ball down range when every shot counts. When time permits, I rinse the ball of tow to clean the fouling from the ball. The heat from firing multiple rounds dries the bore quickly as we go to the next station.

As to why the Bess? The large bore is easy to load resulting in more shots when multiple targets are encountered. The Bess is easy to reload. The big lock is reliable (even with our reproduction muskets). Typically, we get off more shots than the teams using the French replicas. More misses sometimes, but often more hits.

We used the original documented size .690 balls when we did the firing tests I spoke about earlier. Of course our Pedersoli Muskets ran around .753 caliber as opposed to the original .76-.78 caliber.

HOWEVER, in Colonial Frontier Guns by Hamilton, he documents original unfired excavated balls ran as high as .720" and of those found, .710" was the most common size by far. So you are right in the ball park for the ball size you use.

I used the .735" ball with patch when I competed with my Brown Bess carbine in the mid/late 1970's. I will also admit I used a short starter with it, but that was in competition, not historic re-enactment.

Gus
 
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If the stud was used for a sight, why in the heck would they have them set up like this? I can tell you that scope was way ahead of it's time and could extend the range of a Bess out to 60-70 yards. (sorry, just some dumb humor...)
20220217_084327.jpg
 

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I had this argument a few years back with the same folks on here now calling the bayonet lug a front sight. I’ll say it now as i did back then, this issue and over argument is asinine.
 
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Artificer said:
I've had that book for 10 years. I've personally met and spoken to Erik Goldstein about it and Brown Besses on a number of occasions.

I've had Dr. De Whit Bailey's books since they began coming out in the 1970's.

Gus



I haven't ignored it. Did you miss my reference to it the first time on page 4 in my post #98 to demonstrate the sight was rectangular in shape as originally manufactured?

In post 181 on page 10 I referenced Dr. Bailey's research on the dimensions of the sight as originally manufactured of 1/4" long by 1/8" wide and asked if you knew the original sight height because you stated the Pedersoli sight was different from the originals.

Your reply was. " No I dont have the original specs, I do believe the photos of the originals I provided were more than adequate. "

The problem with going off pictures ALONE is that these muskets have seen between 200 to 250 plus years of original use and often damage in the period and that always included Artificers repairing or modifying them, THEN collectors messing them up over the years as well.

The CLOSEST thing there is to an original condition musket are the ones purchased from the English Manor Flixton Hall, yet even those show damage and wear/repair from decades upon decades of cleaning.

That's why I consider it is extremely important to use the original specs for what the sight dimensions were when manufactured for this kind of discussion, because we are talking about their use when they were new or at least originally in service in the British Army.


Gus

And the subject is
How about the British National Army Museum?

Though I could go further back with British Military Matchlock Muskets with front sights, I will concentrate on the period the British Army began using the plug bayonet.

Here is the common musket that was still in use when the British Army first began using plug bayonets. Notice the Sight?
Flintlock English lock musket, 1660 (c) | Online Collection | National Army Museum, London (nam.ac.uk)

Here is the common musket that was used from 1688-1702 when there is no doubt the plug bayonet was in general use in the British Army. Notice the Sight?

Flintlock musket, 1690 (c) | Online Collection | National Army Museum, London (nam.ac.uk)


The National Army Museum's online collection doesn't seem to have an example of an unmodified 1703 Musket (also with front sight, btw). This was the musket the British had and MODIFIED for their first socket bayonets they bought from the Dutch in 1715. (According to Erik Goldstein also, BTW)

However, here is an example of one that had been modified in or later than 1715. OH MY GOD, THEY KEPT THE FRONT SIGHT ON IT AFTER THEY MODIFIED IT FOR THE SOCKET BAYONET! 😉

Flintlock dog-lock musket, 1704 | Online Collection | National Army Museum, London (nam.ac.uk)

Gus

And the subject is "Brown Bess-why"

What you've done is introduced every other Musket before the Brown Bess.

Try starting with the earliest example of the "Long Land Service Musket" dated around 1718, considered "the first standardised Musket in the British Army". The 1730 pattern Brown Bess evolved from that.
I'd provide creditable references but why bother when all you do is sneer at them.

BTW, why the sarcasm ?
 
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YES, it was all Pre P1730 Muskets that became known as the Brown Bess.

The 1718 "Kings pattern" Long Land pattern Musket was later known as the first "Brown Bess"

You asked for documentation the (front) sight was used [It was actually standard then and much earlier] on British Military Muskets when Plug Bayonets were used and now you have indisputable proof of it.

Pre 1718, pre Brown Bess which is the subject of this thread.

As of 1715 they began using the sight in the secondary role of a bayonet lug when they began using socket bayonets.

Pre 1718, and as the earlier photo records of the original Brown Bess muskets I posted (that you rejected) showed, the Bayonet lug were obscured when a Bayonet was fitted, thereby rendering it useless as a Sight.

Throughout this discussion you've consistently refused to acknowledge valid and creditable references simply because they dont fit your narrative. Theres no point in continuing our exchange so there wont be any further response from me to your posts.



Gus
 
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Most of the German army was actually horse drawn, we tend to think it was all tanks, motorbikes and trucks, but it wasn’t. Now the Germans no Calvary, I think the Polish actually did have Calvary.

The German Waffen SS had the 8th Cavalry Division "Florian Geyer" on the eastern front in WW2, they were mainly used as an anti-partisan unit and conducted many atrocities.
 
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If it was designed as a bayonet lug, why did they start putting them on their muskets when they were still using plug bayonets because they didn’t have socket bayonets yet? Matchlocks in the 1500s had identical sights before ANY bayonets had been invented. It. Is. A. Sight. I’m sorry that the facts disagree with whatever Pappy told all you “bayonet lug” guys back in the Bicentennial, but there it is. And to save time, it’s a Cock, not a Hammer, and a Battery, not a frizzen or frissom or whatever other “authentic” Hollywood gibberish you’ve heard.
Good evening, gentlemen.
Jay
Early Crossbows had aperture rear sights as did matchlocks and wheel locks , for what ever reason the British , who obviously had experience with rear sights on muskets decided not to put rear sights on their Long Land muskets , Probably something to do with tactics . and the development of a standardised musket .
Plug bayonets have no relevance when it comes to discussion of the Long Land Musket ,
Hammers were called Cocks , the Frizzen was called a steel or a chop .
British troops at Waterloo were commanded to look to their dog screws , make sure their flints were sharp and their steels wiped dry . A dog screw is the screw holding the top jaw on a cock ,
In long arms terms in Battery means when the firearm is loaded and ready to fire , comes from the Artillery .
 
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Jay Templin said:
If it was designed as a bayonet lug, why did they start putting them on their muskets when they were still using plug bayonets because they didn’t have socket bayonets yet? Matchlocks in the 1500s had identical sights before ANY bayonets had been invented. It. Is. A. Sight. I’m sorry that the facts disagree with whatever Pappy told all you “bayonet lug” guys back in the Bicentennial, but there it is. And to save time, it’s a Cock, not a Hammer, and a Battery, not a frizzen or frissom or whatever other “authentic” Hollywood gibberish you’ve heard.
Good evening, gentlemen.
Jay

".....why did they start putting them on their muskets when they were still using plug bayonets because they didn’t have socket bayonets yet"

And your reference is ?

You made no mention there of just Brown Bess's in your question.

I answered the question you asked of the line you quoted, which was about "muskets when they were still using plug bayonets...."

The point is there were front sights on British Infantry Muskets not only since they were using plug bayonets, but going back much further than that. This demonstrates a long history of using front sights before the P 1718 Muskets that some folks say was the first Brown Bess and especially before the P1730.

There would have been no reason to put front sights on that long historical line of muskets prior to the Bess had they not aimed muskets much earlier than the Bess.

Then after the socket bayonet came out, they used the sight in double duty as a bayonet lug.

Gus
 
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Jay Templin said:
If it was designed as a bayonet lug, why did they start putting them on their muskets when they were still using plug bayonets because they didn’t have socket bayonets yet? Matchlocks in the 1500s had identical sights before ANY bayonets had been invented. It. Is. A. Sight. I’m sorry that the facts disagree with whatever Pappy told all you “bayonet lug” guys back in the Bicentennial, but there it is. And to save time, it’s a Cock, not a Hammer, and a Battery, not a frizzen or frissom or whatever other “authentic” Hollywood gibberish you’ve heard.
Good evening, gentlemen.
Jay



You made no mention there of just Brown Bess's in your question.

I answered the question you asked of the line you quoted, which was about "muskets when they were still using plug bayonets...."

The point is there were front sights on British Infantry Muskets not only since they were using plug bayonets, but going back much further than that. This demonstrates a long history of using front sights before the P 1718 Muskets that some folks say was the first Brown Bess and especially before the P1730.

There would have been no reason to put front sights on that long historical line of muskets prior to the Bess had they not aimed muskets much earlier than the Bess.

Then after the socket bayonet came out, they used the sight in double duty as a bayonet lug.

Gus
As a sight it’s not real good. Howsomever right up to land range shooting with the creedmore matches gun sights pretty much sucked
I don’t think we should apply modren thinking to the utility of a sight on a musket.
The Germans were making tube sights on matchlocks, but two centuries later v and blade still went on American guns.
HF 1803 rifles seemed to be designed to miss.
 
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As a sight it’s not real good.

No personal criticism, but every time someone mentions this, I just shake my head.

I often think to myself, "Have you ever hunted rabbits, or quail with a round barreled shotgun with only a single front sight on it?" Pheasants, ducks and geese are as fast, if not faster and we shoot them all day long at ranges of 30 to 40 yards or more with only a single front sight. Turkey are bigger and don't fly as fast and I got mine with Number 4 buck at 55 yards on the fly. (Yes, I have witnesses.) We couldn't hunt deer when I grew up in Iowa, but I've been able to do so here in Virginia and that is a HUGE critter compared to a pheasant or goose. I've taken deer at 45 yards in a flat out run with buckshot and only a single front sight. I confess I've never shot slugs at more than 75 yards, but had no problems doing it with a single front sight at that range on deer with a single front sight.

The point I'm making is a single front sight is more than good enough for man size targets out to what the British believed was effective range of 60 yards, but that due more to the cartridge ammo than the sights.

Gus
 
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Jay Templin said:
If it was designed as a bayonet lug, why did they start putting them on their muskets when they were still using plug bayonets because they didn’t have socket bayonets yet? Matchlocks in the 1500s had identical sights before ANY bayonets had been invented. It. Is. A. Sight. I’m sorry that the facts disagree with whatever Pappy told all you “bayonet lug” guys back in the Bicentennial, but there it is. And to save time, it’s a Cock, not a Hammer, and a Battery, not a frizzen or frissom or whatever other “authentic” Hollywood gibberish you’ve heard.
Good evening, gentlemen.
Jay



You made no mention there of just Brown Bess's in your question.

I answered the question you asked of the line you quoted, which was about "muskets when they were still using plug bayonets...."

The point is there were front sights on British Infantry Muskets not only since they were using plug bayonets, but going back much further than that. This demonstrates a long history of using front sights before the P 1718 Muskets that some folks say was the first Brown Bess and especially before the P1730.

There would have been no reason to put front sights on that long historical line of muskets prior to the Bess had they not aimed muskets much earlier than the Bess.

Then after the socket bayonet came out, they used the sight in double duty as a bayonet lug.

Gus

Its design and geometry had to be able to accommodate the socket bayonet, just as your said “double duty”. A semi circle shape, bead shape or blade shape would not have worked to affix a socket bayonet and we were a generation away from spring catches on a muskets.

French muskets are an interesting conundrum.

Interesting enough some french muskets used the same lug/sighting system from 1717 - 1754 (infantry arms), their barrel bands had no brass semi circle sights, just a stud at the of the muzzle. French muskets were routinely aimed as part of their drilling. The brass semi circle sight was added in 1746 on light infantry arms and fusils and then with the 1763 model sight on top, stud below, and then in 1766 the stud and sight were moved to the top together in an unusual formation. Then subsequently abandoned in 1770 - 1773 when a new arms inspector was assigned that felt the brass sights were a needless cost then added back to the 1777 and all subsequent models. The 1774 model has a unique system of sight on top of the barrel band, and then stud below with a bayonet spring catch that gripped the socket ring.
 
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As a sight it’s not real good. Howsomever right up to land range shooting with the creedmore matches gun sights pretty much sucked
I don’t think we should apply modren thinking to the utility of a sight on a musket.
The Germans were making tube sights on matchlocks, but two centuries later v and blade still went on American guns.
HF 1803 rifles seemed to be designed to miss.

Great point Tengun, the quality of sighting on a smoothbore isn’t going to matter very much, especially on such a large awkward gun, and in volley fire aiming your weapon at the opposing volley only required you to point.

The real issue with aiming a smoothbore comes with the talent of the shooter and the quality of the bore and round. How clean is the gun, is it taken care of well, and the presenting and stability of the shooter using a smoothbore will often count in hitting targets much more then aiming with a square or rectangle sight.

The 1803 rifle is a great example too of a poor sight system. I think the best smoothbore I’ve handed that is sighted is the 1766 Charleville by Navy Arms, at 50 yards.
 
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Great point Tengun, the quality of sighting on a smoothbore isn’t going to matter very much, especially on such a large awkward gun, and in volley fire aiming your weapon at the opposing volley only required you to point.

EXACTLY! Unless your doing military reenactments there are so many better alternatives. Note, I did not say they would not work, Just that there are better alternatives.
 
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Great point Tengun, the quality of sighting on a smoothbore isn’t going to matter very much, especially on such a large awkward gun,

Yes the Brown Bess is large, but not awkward unless you compare them to civilian fowlers, which is comparing apples to oranges. It weighed 10.5 pounds or less loaded w/o bayonet. For perspective, the M1 and M14 Rifles loaded w/o bayonet weighed the same.


and in volley fire aiming your weapon at the opposing volley only required you to point.

And if they did that, your youtube video showed they would only have hit at most 1 out of five times on the target range, but when in combat, they would hit less than that.

Gus
 
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Yes the Brown Bess is large, but not awkward unless you compare them to civilian fowlers, which is comparing apples to oranges. It weighed 10.5 pounds or less loaded w/o bayonet. For perspective, the M1 and M14 Rifles loaded w/o bayonet weighed the same.




And if they did that, your youtube video showed they would only have hit at most 1 out of five times on the target range, when in combat they would hit less than that.

Gus

Well, I think if you consider the actual battlefield casualties that occurred with the Brown Bess in use in the Seven Years War, American Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars, the casualty rates of wounded to actual dead were much higher (rather than actual dead from musket shots), so perhaps that fella has a logical point based on record battlefield casualties, and I overall casualty rates were just not that high in most 18th century battles, even in battles where the British had amassed 10-20,000 troops, casualties. For example Minden, long lands were of the 1742, 48 and 55 model were used, 37,000 troops vs. French .72 Charlevilles and Austrian Muskets, the rate of wounded and dead for the french was 15-17%,.

At Quebec in 1759 the Brown Bess a nearly 30 yards had its most devastating effect, taking out most of the French advance, however I don’t think the Brown Bess had anything to do with that nearly as Wolfe’s decision to hold fire, any musket presented at 30 yards would have dispatched the hasty french advance. Yet Still casually rates for the french were between 15 and 18% in the entire campaign.

The comparison of the Bess to an M1 and M14 Gus, in my opinion is just not equitable. Let’s line up a bunch of redcoats with an M1 and what’s your casualty rate with aimed shots vs. a Brown Bess with aimed shots at 75 yards.

As for hunting fowl and deer, they don’t shoot back, you can focus on our aiming position much better you’re not concerned about your own life being taken.

The battlefield strategies with an M1 or M14 were not the same with the Brown Bess, bayonets were rarely used in pitch combat circumstances and the casualty rates of wounded to dead closed in modern wars.
 
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