Brown Bess...

Discussion in 'French & Indian War' started by sooter76, Oct 13, 2016.

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum by donating:

  1. Nov 9, 2018 #41

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Cannon Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    8,074
    Likes Received:
    28
    Sorry, I read your correction, but didn't quite understand it.

    The rear lock bolt was placed behind where the ramrod hole stopped, so the curve of the rear of the banana lock and the position of the rear lock bolt, would not have mattered with the larger wood ramrod.

    Gus
     
  2. Nov 9, 2018 #42

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Cannon Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    8,074
    Likes Received:
    28
    Back in 2005 at the Annual Baltimore Gun Collectors Show, I spotted a P1740 Banana Shaped lock on a musket from an aisle away. Because they are so rare to see even there, I hurried around to the next aisle. As I got closer, I stopped dead in my tracks because then I noticed the Iron/Steel Rammer. I thought, “Oh my goodness, is that an extremely rare P 1748?” The $ 15,000.00 asking price was well beyond my means, so I didn’t ask to handle it, but I stretched closer to view the lock plate more closely. Yep, it had the King’s Cypher and “Farmer” was the contractor, though I don’t remember the date.

    The dealer asked if I would like to pick it up and examine it more closely? I replied I would love to and then took a moment to pull out a plastic bag from my back pack that had an old pair of worn, but spotless dress white gloves inside and then put them on to handle the musket. (I saved the gloves when they became too worn to wear with my uniform for reasons like this.) The dealer grinned and nodded his appreciation. However, as I examined it more closely, it became apparent it was not a P 1748, after all.

    I asked about the barrel length and the Dealer said it was 42 inches. So I looked carefully at the evenly/correctly spaced rammer pipes to see if there was evidence of them having been moved when a longer barrel was shortened. Nope, there were no extra mortises for rammer pipes, so chances were the barrel was 42 inches when the Musket had been assembled. That is when I noticed the extremely unusual cast nose cap. It was not an Ordnance Nose Cap, but rather a very unusual one. It was sort of an “L” shape with the long side of the L next to the barrel and above the top of the rammer. The short side of the L was cleared on the bottom with a half round clearance for the Rammer. Now, it was not a blocky “L” shape, but very nicely curved rounded in the transition from the long side to the short side on the bottom.

    I checked the bore with my inexpensive brass V shaped bore gauge and it read slightly over .75 caliber, which it should have as original Muskets ran .76 to .78 caliber.

    The butt stock was not as thick as a Pre 1756 stock, but had the earlier drop of the P 1740 buttstock. Oh, my goodness that stock handled and shouldered well! Then I more closely examined the trigger guard and the pipes. The Front Pipe actually was very similar to the P 1756 “trumpet shape” one and the entry pipe resembled and Ordnance one as well. The trigger guard resembled the newer/more robust P 1740, but it was not quite as robust. The Butt Plate also looked correct in style, but was also a bit smaller in proportion than an Ordnance musket.

    Unfortunately the barrel was so rusted I could not see if it had Touch and View Marks and there was no other marking on top of the barrel to indicate who had assembled it or used it.

    After going through my reference books, I could only assume this was a Musket that had been assembled by a civilian with an older British Ordnance Lock and possibly an Ordnance Barrel that had been cut shorter at the rear (because there were no Touch or View Marks) or it was a replacement barrel. Much of the brass furniture (except the cast nose cap) may have been off an Ordnance Musket and then trimmed down by the assembler.

    While I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a P 1748, I did marvel at the overall effect, styling and fit of that Musket. Of course I had no idea when that Musket was assembled. However, that Musket would have been a gem to use in either the FIW or AWI.

    Gus
     
  3. Nov 9, 2018 #43

    Nicholas A. Genda

    Nicholas A. Genda

    Nicholas A. Genda

    36 Cl.

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    4
    I was referring to the forward bolt, closest to the frizzen spring pointing toward the entry pipe.

    I had always wondered for a long time why flintlocks were curved for a period of time, then straightened. From what I was explained by the Gunsmith at Williamsburg years back; the older generation of flintlocks curved the lockplates so that they could cover more wood on the lock pannel area, as more wood was needed on the bottom to maintain a larger diameter rammer, had they been straight they would have looked very ‘chunky’.

    If you notice the straight lock plated guns have less wood in the fore stock region that is between the trigger guard and the underside of the lock plate. Toward the back of the lock plate the panels were larger as well leading into a bigger wrist area.

    Basically in short, curved lock muskets needed more wood. When Steel rammer came about, military muskets used less wood in the forestock and throughout the the lock area.

    An example was shown to me with a Jaeger Rifle; which had a larger rod and bigger lock pannel and wrist. When compared with a straighter lock of a colonial period rifle; some rods extended beyond the muzzle, some were thinner and some guns had only one lock bolt. These were all steps taken to reduce the amount of wood on a rifle.

    Another interesting thing I had learned was that with barrels, with time barrels were made heavier, thicker and making the gun heavier, so a way to make guns lighter was to reduce the size of the lock, ramrod and the amount of wood.
     
  4. Nov 9, 2018 #44

    Nicholas A. Genda

    Nicholas A. Genda

    Nicholas A. Genda

    36 Cl.

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    4
    Great story Gus !

    Yea Pattern 1748 muskets are very rare, I’ve only seen one at Williamsburg in the Governor’s mansion. I wanted to view the forestock as close as I could so I brought a high powered NIKON and zoomed in; the gun was about 10 feet up on the wall. I could clearly see the forestock was thinned out and the musket seemed too ‘unused’. An administrator had told me that the Musket was an original but was purchased overseas. So this musket was never in America during the colonial period. It’s actually directly above an EDGE 1756 musket, you can clearly see that the Butt Stock has a much more natural design, similar to a hunting Fowler or rifle.

    At the Revolutionary War Museum in Philadelphia, there’s a Brown Bess on display much like a Pattern 1748, when looking closer you can see that the musket was tailored, the rod pipes had a type of washer inside and the nose cap was sheet brass. Another musket there is a 1740 pattern with a loosely fit steel rod in larger rammer pipes set up for a wooden rod.

    So my impression that Brown Bess muskets were all uniform (much like a Pedersoli); I found that I was mistaken and that all these muskets were so different, none were ever alike.

    Fort Leigonier in PA has a nice set up example of F&I muskets. The two that you see the most are 1740 muskets, and French 1746 pattern muskets.

    Another factor to consider is that there were many downsized fusils used on all sides.

    Another American musket I had seen in Yorktown was a Brown Bess set up for a wooden rammer. A very unique workaround was that the user had changed out the wooden rammer with a steel dowel with a forged trumpet head, that steel dowel was at least 3/8ths. This must have weighed the gun down at the cost of finding a steel rod that would fit comforrtably in the rod pipes.

    Nick
     
  5. Nov 9, 2018 #45

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Cannon Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    8,074
    Likes Received:
    28
    So the Gunsmith you spoke with at Colonial Williamsburg meant the curved lock plate was more a matter of styling, rather than necessity for a wood ramrod Musket?

    I am not so sure I buy that, but it may be true. (Over the years I have visited the gun shop at CW many times since my first trip in 1975 and sometimes their information was not correct, though Bless Them, they have always tried to give the best info they had at the time, each time.)

    As I understand it, the reason for the curve at the rear of the lock plate was to center it more in the wrist as it curved downwards, with the Pre 1756 stocks with more drop at the wrist. By centering the rear of the lock plate in the wrist, that kept the wood around the lock plate more uniform around the area where the wood was removed for the plate and parts. IOW, the wood around the plate was not closer either on the top or bottom of the plate, where it would have been more likely to crack. Now whether true or not, that makes sense from a functional/sturdiness point of view.

    Gus
     
  6. Nov 9, 2018 #46

    Nicholas A. Genda

    Nicholas A. Genda

    Nicholas A. Genda

    36 Cl.

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    4
    Having worked on some Bess kits; the downward curve did flow well with the drop in the wris; the forestock wood was needed simply because there was a lot going on in that area of the gun, between the lock, rod and sheer size of the breech that part of the gun was vulnerable. Ordinance likely wanted the gun to last in the field, adding more wood was logical. If you read about the prior models 1728 and 1730 patterns these muskets were deemed to be fragile ..... and often needed to be restocked. The butts were shaped nicely, and forestock were pinned utilizing a thinner forestock... also the slotted underlug pinning system was not ideal for thimble placement. Those guns handled like a fowling gun, not very sturdy for field use.

    The curved lock was the style of the period, no question about that. French muskets and Spanish Muskets used curved plates and the drop of their muskets far exceeded any Bess.
     
  7. Nov 9, 2018 #47

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Cannon Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    8,074
    Likes Received:
    28
    Nick,

    Thanks for the info on the Bess in the Governor's Palace at Williamsburg and the one at the Yorktown Visitor Center. I haven't been to the Yorktown Visitor's Center since they remodeled it. On my last visit, I left nose and cheek prints all over one display case trying to get a better look at the Original AWI Issue Scottish Basket Hilt Backsword and scabbard. I know most were put in storage and not used during the AWI, but WOW they have one!! (I was a re-enactor in the Major's Coy, 42nd RHR, the Black Watch for a number of years.)

    I have GOT to get to Fort Ligonier and also Fort Pitt in the next few years. I REALLY want to see some of the excavated leather goods they found at Fort Ligonier during the excavations and hope they are on display. If not, I'll try to bug someone into letting me see one. Would also love to see the Besses and French Muskets.

    Sure enjoyed this discussion! Have to go to bed now, but will check back tomorrow.

    Gus
     
  8. Nov 10, 2018 #48

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Cannon Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    8,074
    Likes Received:
    28
    Sometimes through sheer circumstance, I come across things that may be pertinent to discussions and this time seems like one more.

    As I opened my copy of “The Brown Bess” by Goldstein and Mowbray to look up something else, it just happened to open to page 13 which shows an original New England Club Butt Fowler that had assembled with the lock and barrel of an AWI captured Brown Bess. The authors included this example to show one must be careful not to assume just because American guns were assembled with old or captured Brown Bess parts, one should not automatically identify it as done during the AWI. This because MANY of these firearms were assembled in the rush to satisfy the Federal Militia Act of 1792.

    What is interesting about this New England Club Butt Musket is the lock is the flatter bottom P 1755 style and by the looks of the flat brass side plate, it may or probably came from a Marine/Militia SLP Musket. What is really interesting for the current discussion, though, is the fact with the drop of the wrist being every bit as much as on P 1740 stocks, if not more, the wrist is cracked through right behind the point of the flatter P 1755 lock plate.

    Now the rear end/tail of the P 1755 flatter bottom lock is much closer to the top of the wrist at the point the wrist cracked. (IOW, the rear of the lock plate is not centered on the wrist as a Curved/Banana Shaped/P 1740 would have more nearly been, even with the significant amount of drop in the wrist of the stock.) Though there is no documentation when or how the stock was cracked, it is easy to see how this structural flaw of the rear of the lock plate not being centered on the wrist, at least caused that area to be weaker/more prone to cracking.

    Though of course one period example of a smoothbore assembled with a Brown Bess barrel and flatter bottom P 1755 lock and with such a huge amount of drop in the wrist, cannot be directly used to support the theory that British Ordnance used the Banana Shaped locks because of the drop in the butt stocks of the P 1740 stocks. That and British Ordnance only changed to the flatter bottom P 1755 lock plate when they “straightened the stock upwards.” However, it does show a structural weakness in a stock with more drop and the rear of the lock plate is not more or less centered in the wrist of the stock.


    Gus
     

Share This Page

arrow_white