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Captured French Muskets cut down by the British.

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Artificer

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While looking for something else, I ran across the following in "A Soldier-Like Way, The Material Culture of the British Infantry 1751-1768," Page 122.

"Carbines were issued to the light infantry instead of the longer Land Pattern Muskets. If not enough Carbines were available, captured French Muskets were sometimes shortened and issued, as General Amhurst recorded in April 1759:

As I have cut the French Arms shorter which makes them much lighter and Handyr for the Light Infantry I shall send you to Elizabeth Town Seventy five Firelocks which are for the three Sergeants inclusively 526 [the 526 is the foot note number]

Footnote 526 reads: Major General Amhurst to Colonel Arthur Morris, New York, April 19th 1759, [from] Amhurst and the Conquest of Canada, pg 48.

The shorter, smaller caliber carbines appeared to be unpopular with many soldiers and in February, 1760, they were again issued Muskets:

The light infantry companies are now incorporated under the command of Major Dalling of the twenty-eighth regiment; and are ordered to be completed with firelocks instead of short carbines, at their own request 527

Footnote 527 reads: February, 1760, Knox, Vol II, page 334"
(end of quote information from "A Soldier Like Way)

OK, this is period documentation some of the Muskets captured from Fort Louisbourg were cut down, BUT it seems very confusing to me how much they may have cut them down.

Now here is what to me is the most confusing part.

Any French Musket captured at Fortress Louisbourg in 1758 would have had the 46 3/4 inch barrel length. (I'm not including any French Carbines that may have been there, if any were there.)

The ONLY British Pattern Light Infantry Carbine available here in America in 1759 was the P 1745 Lord Loudoun L.I. Carbine and it had a 42 inch barrel. Yes, only 4 inches shorter than the 46" barreled, P 1742 Long Land Pattern Muskets. So if they shortened the captured French Muskets to the same length as the P1745 Light Infantry Musket, they would only have been shortened less than 5 inches.

However, if the French Muskets were shortened down to the length of Carbines for Serjeants in the British Army, then the French Musket barrels would have been cut down to the 37 inch length most other British Carbines here had and especially the "Serjeants and Artillery" Carbines. So they MAY have been cutting the French Musket barrels down to that length.

The confusing part for me is I don't know which barrel length they intended to cut the captured French Muskets down to.

Gus
 

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Having spent a few years as an archaeologist for the State of Florida many moons back, might I suggest you check both the State archaeological conservation labs in the areas where these units served, as well as any reports on excavations or specific recovered artifacts in the literature? Actual recovery in the field, including sunken supply/shipping vessels, etc., have often provided a wealth of info supporting, clarifying, and sometimes contradicting, written records of the time.
In the words of my esteemed and much-missed mentor, State Archaeologist Calvin Jones, "Dirt don't lie!"

Cvkotvkse
 

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Having spent a few years as an archaeologist for the State of Florida many moons back, might I suggest you check both the State archaeological conservation labs in the areas where these units served, as well as any reports on excavations or specific recovered artifacts in the literature? Actual recovery in the field, including sunken supply/shipping vessels, etc., have often provided a wealth of info supporting, clarifying, and sometimes contradicting, written records of the time.
In the words of my esteemed and much-missed mentor, State Archaeologist Calvin Jones, "Dirt don't lie!"

Cvkotvkse
"Dirt don't lie!" That's good advice for those who are that interested in it, say for example re-enactors wishing to do it.

So far the only evidence I've ever read about was some cut off barrel lengths on Rogers' Island.

Gus
 

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The confusing part for me is I don't know which barrel length they intended to cut the captured French Muskets down to.
Sure we do.... no definitively but I think we do....

"As I have cut the French Arms shorter which makes them much lighter and Handyr for the Light Infantry...."

So lop off 4¾" from the French muskets, and then probably a small section of the stock and the ramrod so that they can be fitted with their bayonets..., now they are 42" barrels, and they are likely NOT "much lighter" than they were before.

Lop off 9¾" from the French muskets, including stock wood, and shortening the metal ramrod, so the barrels are now 37" long..., and decide if they are "much lighter and handyr"... ;)

The only quandary would be IF the British didn't fit the muskets for the bayonet when it was shortened to 42" then the lack of the bayonet on the end might make a person think they are "lighter and handyr", BUT...., I don't think a self respecting general officer would suffer to be made a musket for regular albeit light infantry, that would not have had the bayonet. I also don't think that the General would allow the muskets to be any shorter.

So 37"-38" is more than likely the length. 👍


I wonder what the Lights didn't care for about the shorter muskets ?? Did they think the ball being smaller than the Bess hit without as much "authority" or did they not like the shorter musket when the soldier need to use the bayonet, at a disadvantage due to length? I noticed they were issued full sized "firelocks", YET the records do not specify British or French? 🤔

LD
 

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Sure we do.... no definitively but I think we do....

"As I have cut the French Arms shorter which makes them much lighter and Handyr for the Light Infantry...."

So lop off 4¾" from the French muskets, and then probably a small section of the stock and the ramrod so that they can be fitted with their bayonets..., now they are 42" barrels, and they are likely NOT "much lighter" than they were before.

Lop off 9¾" from the French muskets, including stock wood, and shortening the metal ramrod, so the barrels are now 37" long..., and decide if they are "much lighter and handyr"... ;)

The only quandary would be IF the British didn't fit the muskets for the bayonet when it was shortened to 42" then the lack of the bayonet on the end might make a person think they are "lighter and handyr", BUT...., I don't think a self respecting general officer would suffer to be made a musket for regular albeit light infantry, that would not have had the bayonet. I also don't think that the General would allow the muskets to be any shorter.

So 37"-38" is more than likely the length. 👍


I wonder what the Lights didn't care for about the shorter muskets ?? Did they think the ball being smaller than the Bess hit without as much "authority" or did they not like the shorter musket when the soldier need to use the bayonet, at a disadvantage due to length? I noticed they were issued full sized "firelocks", YET the records do not specify British or French? 🤔

LD
Well of course the Serjeant Major is never wrong, but did the Serjeant Major miss the following as to perhaps the best evidence for 37 inch barrels? (Grin)

As I have cut the French Arms shorter which makes them much lighter and Handyr for the Light Infantry I shall send you to Elizabeth Town Seventy five Firelocks which are for the three Sergeants inclusively "

One didn't send 75 firelocks to be cut down for only three Serjeants. To me that meant for the different Ranks of Serjeants in the Light Infantry Companies. If so, then since there were 37 inch barreled Serjeants' Carbines already in use here, that might be the more plausible barrel length.

However, I have to admit that someone might have specifically requested three of them for Serjeants and the rest for Corporals and Privates.

I don't have the quotes right at hand, but the Lights complained about the Lord Loudoun Light Infantry carbines as being too easily damaged and would not stand up to the rigors of L.I. use. This example seems about them complaining about 37 inch barreled carbines, though as you wrote, it does not come right out and say that.

Gus
 
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tenngun

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Did lighter and handier mean they were thinking weight or easier to cast about?
a hanger is but a few ounces lighter then a raipier or cutlass but considered lighter because it was so easy to whip through the air. A schooner and a snow will displace about the same amount, say eighty to a hundred tons, but the longer water like make the schooner lighter in the water.
In rough country and woods was the shorter gun just lighter to handle even if well less then a pound has been saved
 

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Interesting thread, when reading it I had a thought... here goes.

There's no mention of a bayonet lug being reattached to the cut down barrels. And if I understand correctly, the bayonet was a major and often used piece of equipment issued to troops.

So when the order to "Fix Bayonets " was given there were 75 guys who couldn't. That would bother me if I was one of those who couldn't.

I've read of Plug Bayonets, and how troops didn't care for them due to the obvious drawback. Might these have been issued to the 75 cut down muskets?

Another reason I wouldn't wanna carry one of these cut down muskets.

And it used different ammo.. so it wasn't uniform. As I recall uniformity was/is a big thing in military life.

And it had belonged to the ENEMY...

My thoughts, worth what you paid for them.
 
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Did lighter and handier mean they were thinking weight or easier to cast about?
a hanger is but a few ounces lighter then a raipier or cutlass but considered lighter because it was so easy to whip through the air. A schooner and a snow will displace about the same amount, say eighty to a hundred tons, but the longer water like make the schooner lighter in the water.
In rough country and woods was the shorter gun just lighter to handle even if well less then a pound has been saved
Tenngun,

I'm sure "lighter and handier" meant both less weight to carry and the shorter length was handier to use overall, but especially in forests, rough country and fields with high grass, etc.

I've got documented quotes in Virginia going back to the 1690's, where even though the Virginia Assembly supplied cheap military muskets for Militiamen to purchase that cost significantly less than civilian arms, NOBODY seems to have bought them, if they could afford a gun at all. Even back then they remarked the civilian guns were "lighter and handier" than military arms. I've seen more of the same quotes all the way up to the AWI.

Gus
 

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All very interesting French muskets were smaller bore but so where light infantry British 'Carbines ' the 1760 LI took the carbine bore ball much the same as the French in effect it had 42" barrel but still a' Carbine 'by its 'Nature' cutting down to 37" must mean fitting the B net was problematic at the very least and my guess is that's why they didn't like them.
.Rudyard
 

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Interesting thread, when reading it I had a thought... here goes.

There's no mention of a bayonet lug being reattached to the cut down barrels. And if I understand correctly, the bayonet was a major and often used piece of equipment issued to troops.

So when the order to "Fix Bayonets " was given there were 75 guys who couldn't. That would bother me if I was one of those who couldn't.

I've read of Plug Bayonets, and how troops didn't care for them due to the obvious drawback. Might these have been issued to the 75 cut down muskets?

Another reason I wouldn't wanna carry one of these cut down muskets.

And it used different ammo.. so it wasn't uniform. As I recall uniformity was/is a big thing in military life.

And it had belonged to the ENEMY... imagine a British Tommy carrying a Mosin-Nagant at Verdun?

My thoughts, worth what you paid for them.
Hi Brother Eterry,

Great question!

What you probably don't realize is the British and British American Commanders established a "storage, issue, supply and maintenance" point or facility in Albany, New York. Arms coming from England were first shipped there, not too long after Braddock's Defeat. Then the Arms were issued from there as the Commanders allowed. One can see by the following map link it was a central location for the War Effort.
64851-004-3681ECDB.gif (412×360) (britannica.com)

However, it is important to note they also had what we would call a "maintenance facility" there as well, from which they did some repair on Arms as well as contracted repairs out to local gunsmiths.

Somewhere I have a quote where they took a fairly large quantity of P1730 muskets Long Land Muskets and had a civilian gunsmith not only cut them down, but even more interesting, the stocks were thinned down and probably by using what we would call an early offset lathe.

It seems likely from the footnote that Major General Amhurst was either near the Albany facility or meant the cut down French Muskets would be sent from that facility.

Now, the French Arms they cut down, all came from capturing Fort Louisbourg the year before. Those were all "stands of arms," which meant they had bayonets fitted to them with the arms. I speculate they did not separate the bayonets because each was hand fitted to the barrel of the musket they came with. So, though I can't prove it, I bet the Artificers/Armorers or Civilian Gunsmiths on contract to Albany, made and brazed bayonet lugs onto the barrels for the bayonets.

Gus
 

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All very interesting French muskets were smaller bore but so where light infantry British 'Carbines ' the 1760 LI took the carbine bore ball much the same as the French in effect it had 42" barrel but still a' Carbine 'by its 'Nature' cutting down to 37" must mean fitting the B net was problematic at the very least and my guess is that's why they didn't like them.
.Rudyard
Hi Rudyard,

The French Muskets captured from Fort Louisbourg all had bayonets individually fitted to them when captured. This because there is documentation 15,000 "Stands of Arms" were captured at Louisbourg.

Now as long as the Americans didn't separate the bayonets from the muskets they were fitted to, when they emptied Fort Louisbourg out and transported them back to the British Colonies, it would not have been a difficult job to do very little fitting to get them to fit the shortened barrels. I would think they would have been well knowledgeable enough not to separate the bayonets in transport, but it's possible it happened.

Gus
 

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Hi Brother Eterry,

Great question!

What you probably don't realize is the British and British American Commanders established a "storage, issue, supply and maintenance" point or facility in Albany, New York. Arms coming from England were first shipped there, not too long after Braddock's Defeat. Then the Arms were issued from there as the Commanders allowed. One can see by the following map link it was a central location for the War Effort.
64851-004-3681ECDB.gif (412×360) (britannica.com)

However, it is important to note they also had what we would call a "maintenance facility" there as well, from which they did some repair on Arms as well as contracted repairs out to local gunsmiths.

Somewhere I have a quote where they took a fairly large quantity of P1730 muskets Long Land Muskets and had a civilian gunsmith not only cut them down, but even more interesting, the stocks were thinned down and probably by using what we would call an early offset lathe.

It seems likely from the footnote that Major General Amhurst was either near the Albany facility or meant the cut down French Muskets would be sent from that facility.

Now, the French Arms they cut down, all came from capturing Fort Louisbourg the year before. Those were all "stands of arms," which meant they had bayonets fitted to them with the arms. I speculate they did not separate the bayonets because each was hand fitted to the barrel of the musket they came with. So, though I can't prove it, I bet the Artificers/Armorers or Civilian Gunsmiths on contract to Albany, made and brazed bayonet lugs onto the barrels for the bayonets.

Gus
Gus, you speak as though you are constantly in search of More Light, and if so then I applaud you for your journey towards the East.

I knew I was out of my depth in the F&IW section, because truly I am not well versed at all about that period of time.

I was not aware of the armory set up to repair/replace stands of arms, but it seems logical .

Fraternally,
Eterry
 

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Gus, you speak as though you are constantly in search of More Light, and if so then I applaud you for your journey towards the East.

I knew I was out of my depth in the F&IW section, because truly I am not well versed at all about that period of time.

I was not aware of the armory set up to repair/replace stands of arms, but it seems logical .

Fraternally,
Eterry
Hi Brother Terry,

Yes, I'm a Traveling Man ever looking for more Light, both historically and fraternally.

Don't feel bad about not knowing about the Storage facility the British set up in Albany during the FIW. I doubt many people, even those who are a lot more educated in the FIW than I am, are aware of it. If it were not for the study I've done about period Artificers/Armorers, I would not have known about it.

Since I spent a career in the military in Ordnance and primarily small arms and also worked many years repairing and doing trigger jobs on Black Powder Military arms as a hobby, I've always had an interest in what "period" Military Armorers did. That led me to studying if and how British Ordnance sent tools and supplies to America in the FIW and AWI for use by British Regimental Artificers.

It was during some of that study that I sort of tripped over the fact British Ordnance did something very unusual for the British "Supply Depot" at Albany. They actually sent two Officers to the facility, one who we would call a "Supply Officer" and another we might call a "Disbursing Officer or Comptroller." They also sent two trained Artificers/Armorers to care for and repair the Arms in storage there. However and to my knowledge, no one has ever done an in-depth study of that facility. I've only been able to pick up a few things here and there on the facility, including the fact they hired some American Gunsmiths to do things at times for them as well.

When they cut the barrels shorter, the bayonet lugs were on the part of the barrels that were cut off. I do know from studying the Tools and Repair Parts lists that British Ordnance sent to Albany and other places for Regimental Artificers, that though Artificers/Armorers were not fully trained gunsmiths, they had more than enough tools and knowledge to make and mount new Bayonet Lugs on the Captured French Muskets.

Fraternally yours,
Gus
 

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I've read of Plug Bayonets, and how troops didn't care for them due to the obvious drawback. Might these have been issued to the 75 cut down muskets?
A lot of the living history folks down my way think the same thing, but the plug bayonet was very very old by the F&I, and the odds that anybody would have them in enough numbers, let alone a single example, by the F&I are pretty high. They are more from the era of the matchlock and doglock British muskets, and predate the Queen Anne musket, let alone the Bess or Charleville.

LD
 

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A lot of the living history folks down my way think the same thing, but the plug bayonet was very very old by the F&I, and the odds that anybody would have them in enough numbers, let alone a single example, by the F&I are pretty high. They are more from the era of the matchlock and doglock British muskets, and predate the Queen Anne musket, let alone the Bess or Charleville.

LD
Good point, LD.

Though admittedly I don't have documentation to support it or not, I haven't run across anything that would even suggest the British Arms Supply in Albany ordered Plug Bayonets made, as they did not seem to have the capability to make 75 or more plug bayonets.

Lacking other documentation, it seems more probable to me they just used the bayonets that came with the muskets and added new bayonet studs to the shortened barrels.

Gus
 

tenngun

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What musket did the British use during the war?
Rhetorical question.
How did guns look after the first battle. How many had muzzel damage and had to be cut back, how many bore battlescars.
How much’field modifications’ were there
 

Ike Godsey

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Just a short sum off of all that what was written about the french guns....

1) a good number of those guns came from Fort Louisburg
2) a british order states that some of those french muskets (assumed 1728) have to be cut down to (most likely) 37" (Artillery carbine length) "...and (at some muskets) the barrels to be blued or browned to prevent glittering..."

A French Order from May 1743 stated regarding the marking of the arms in arsenals of the King of New France states that: "...all the soldiers' arms will be stamped with the words "Au Roy" (and) with the mark of each captain." (Rapport des Archives canadiennes, 1899, supplement, p. 147.)

So what I take out of all that, a cut back (and possibly Ranger) musket most likely was a French 1728 musket, banrded with AU ROY on the stock, cut back to 37" barrel, fittet for the use of a bajonett and metalparts browned.

How far off am I?
 
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What musket did the British use during the war?
A. By far, the overwhelming number of Muskets issued to British Regular Infantry was the P1742 Musket and "Dutch" copies of the same made in the prior war, the War of the Austrian Succession ending in 1748.

A much smaller number of older P1730 and P1730/40 were also sent and some of them "cut down and lightened" under a contract by an American Gunsmith in New York.

B. British Light Infantry were issued with the Lord Loudoun Pattern "Carbine" with 42 inch barrel and in the smaller .66 cal. "Carbine Bore" for most of the war. After the capture of Fortress Louisbourg, they and at least some of the Rangers were re-armed with M1728 French Muskets and in some cases - cut down to 37" Carbine Length after capture. (There is no accurate number of these arms that were cut down, as far as I'm aware.) Some P 1760 Light Infantry carbines made it here prior to the end of the War, but not very many.

C. The Grenadier Companies in the Three Highland Regiments may/probably had the P1742 Muskets by mid war; though the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, the Black Watch, were all armed with P1745 Carbine for Horse and converted to "Land Service" with slings and bayonet before they arrived here. The rest of the other nine companies in each of the other Two Highland Regiments, also were issued Carbines, probably P 1756 Carbines. These Carbines were all .66 cal. and had 37 inch barrels. The Highlanders particularly liked Carbines as it went well with "fighting in the Highland Manner."


Rhetorical question.
How did guns look after the first battle.
Dirty and maybe a little dinged up, but they soon were put back to excellent condition in the days following battles.

How many had muzzel damage and had to be cut back, how many bore battlescars.
As to muzzle damage and therefore had to be cut down to 42" barrel length, we have no accurate numbers. Some were done, but we don't know how many. Since these were all "Wooden Ramrod Muskets," there was not the muzzle damage that Iron/Steel Rammers would do to later Pattern Muskets.

How much’field modifications’ were there
From the few period references and the tools and parts lists sent here for Regimental Artificers; the number one modification was adding a sheet brass and fewer times a sheet copper "Nose Band," then cutting the end of the wood forearm square - with wood showing on the very front of the stock. This modification was done to keep the forearms from splitting in use. These were modifications were easily done by Regimental Artificers because the bands were normally just wrapped around the front ends of the stocks and held in place by the ends of the bands bent downward and placed under the barrel.

A small number of Muskets were converted to "Iron/Steel Rammer" by using the brazing the issued cylinders in the large "Wood Rammer" Pipes to reduce the diameter for Iron/Steel Rammer Muskets and a Spring was riveted inside the Rear Pipe to help hold the smaller Rammers in the larger holes in the stock. However, by both the number of such modification parts sent and the many period references on how badly the modification worked, it was not a popular and probably not a wide spread modification.

There are a small number of references to a small number of 46 inch barreled muskets that were cut down to 42 inch length. However, we don't know how many times this was done.

Gus
 
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Just a short sum off of all that what was written about the french guns....

1) a good number of those guns came from Fort Louisburg
2) a british order states that some of those french muskets (assumed 1728) have to be cut down to (most likely) 37" (Artillery carbine length) "...and (at some muskets) the barrels to be blued or browned to prevent glittering..."

A French Order from May 1743 stated regarding the marking of the arms in arsenals of the King of New France states that: "...all the soldiers' arms will be stamped with the words "Au Roy" (and) with the mark of each captain." (Rapport des Archives canadiennes, 1899, supplement, p. 147.)

So what I take out of all that, a cut back (and possibly Ranger) musket most likely was a French 1728 musket, banrded with AU ROY on the stock, cut back to 37" barrel, fittet for the use of a bajonett and metalparts browned.

How far off am I?
Hi Ike,

VERY interesting quote from 1743 about the French order to mark all stocks with "Au Roy" and the mark of each Captain in New France! So the FIRST time British Americans captured and emptied out Fortress Louisbourg of all French arms in 1745, THOSE arms would have all had such markings.

However, I'm not sure that applies to the Muskets captured from Fortress Louisbourg in 1758? When the French got Fort Louisbourg back from the treaty, and filled it AGAIN with arms in the late 1740's/early 1750's, was that order still in effect to so mark the replacement Arms they received? If so, then that is really neat info for the Arms captured during the FIW and the ones we are discussing.

Also, do you have more info on ""...and (at [least] some muskets) the barrels to be blued or browned to prevent glittering...?" I've seen that reference before, but I don't remember from where and in what context.

Gus
 

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Also, do you have more info on ""...and (at [least] some muskets) the barrels to be blued or browned to prevent glittering...?" I've seen that reference before, but I don't remember from where and in what context.
Sure.
De Witt Bailey "Small Arms of the British Forces in America 1664 - 1815" on page 129.

Gen Armherst ordered that the light Infantry must be armed with French arms...
Look it up please - I could have misunderstood this do to my bad english...

However, I'm not sure that applies to the Muskets captured from Fortress Louisbourg in 1758? When the French got Fort Louisbourg back from the treaty, and filled it AGAIN with arms in the late 1740's/early 1750's, was that order still in effect to so mark the replacement Arms they received? If so, then that is really neat info for the Arms captured during the FIW and the ones we are discussing.
I don't either.
BUT does it make sense if the arms have not been marked as mentioned, just because the order was 10 or 15 years old?
 
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