FINALLY, Priming Horns in FIW Documentation!

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There has been a world of discussion as to whether the old boys used separate priming horns, how about this item?

"The SOUTH-CAROLINA Gazette
January 20, 1757

Robertson & Baillie, At the corner of Elliott street on the Bay, Charlestown, HAVE just imported in the Alexander, Capt. Daniel Curling, from London”¦. steel watch chains, cartouch boxes, and priming flasks covered with leather, large ditto spectacles , nutmeg graters,..."

Spence
Thanks again Spence.
 

dgracia

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He is describing why it's needed, so yes it's unusual...

Excellent point, and one might wonder about any artwork showing infantry carrying horns in the F&I...., could these have been for "priming" and not for the main charge when the cartridges ran out, as is often supposed ?

LD
To the best of my knowledge, riflemen didn't use cartridges, partly because they had to have a tight fit to the rifling and the paper that was used in the muskets to hold the ball in place was of no use to the riflemen. A bigger reason would be because, with very few exceptions, the rifles didn't fire the .62 cal. lead ball that was used in the French muskets the rest of the army used (after winter 77/78). Those cartridges were shipped to the various regiments by the barrel load and since the rifles were typically much smaller caliber, they didn't come in by the barrel.

You have to remember that most of the rifle barrels were made by hammer forge-welding flat steel stock around a mandrel into a round barrel. And even if the same mandrel was used for consecutive rifle barrels, after removing the mandrel, reaming out the bore to insure it was straight, and rifling the barrel, odds are they would be slightly different calibers. That's why each rifle sold included its own bag mold to cast the correct size lead ball for the rifle. One rifle might come out .49, another .53 or even .54 using the same mandrel. Each rifleman was supplied the lead, but had to cast his own lead balls.

In all the reenactments I've participated in since around 2003 or so, if the rules didn't prohibit it, the riflemen always loaded from the horn for added realism, while the muskets always used cartridges. However, there are a lot of places were carrying around 1-lb or more of black powder in a powder horn was prohibited (such as National Park Service areas), so then we used cartridges. Nice thing about reenactments is that without the lead ball, it's easy to load a rifle from cartridges. With a lead ball, that becomes far more difficult.

Further, I would be very surprised to see riflemen in rifle companies carrying an extra powder horn for "priming". Odds are they didn't get the different sized powder for priming and when you're being shot at, you typically want to load as quickly as possible. Loading rifles took about 3 times as long or more than loading a musket. Musketmen of the line were expected to fire 3 shots per minute. Riflemen would be lucky to get off one or possibly 2 in that amount of time, without juggling powder horns around. Also, F&I powder horns were significantly larger than Rev War powder horns.

Sure wish we could find more documentation about them to clear some of this up.

Twisted_1in66 :thumb:
Dan
 

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Excellent point, and one might wonder about any artwork showing infantry carrying horns in the F&I...., could these have been for "priming" and not for the main charge when the cartridges ran out, as is often supposed ?
To the best of my knowledge, riflemen didn't use cartridges, ….
In all the reenactments I've participated in since around 2003 or so, if the rules didn't prohibit it, the riflemen always loaded from the horn for added realism..., Nice thing about reenactments is that without the lead ball, it's easy to load a rifle from cartridges. With a lead ball, that becomes far more difficult...... Musketmen of the line were expected to fire 3 shots per minute. Riflemen would be lucky to get off one or possibly 2 in that amount of time, without juggling powder horns around. Also, F&I powder horns were significantly larger than Rev War powder horns.
Well I'm quite well aware of how rifles are loaded and why..., and muskets..., and the reason and the rate of fire...,

Please note my question was regarding infantry in the F&I, and while in modern times "infantry" is all riflemen, in the F&I they were pretty much all musketmen, especially in the artwork, not to mention that orders were given for Light Infantry to carry horns in the F&I. Folks assume the regular infantry with horns seen in artwork must be light infantry, however, what does one do when carrying cartridges and gets a flash-in-the-pan? Does the infantryman destroy another cartridge, after pricking the touch hole, because he needs to reprime his piece, OR did some carry a horn for this purpose?

This is the question.....

LD
 

oreclan

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He is describing why it's needed, so yes it's unusual...



Excellent point, and one might wonder about any artwork showing infantry carrying horns in the F&I...., could these have been for "priming" and not for the main charge when the cartridges ran out, as is often supposed ?

LD
During the 1758 Forbe's campaign powderhorns from commercial Philadelphia horners were issued to Virginia Regimental troops as well as linen bullet bags (pouches). They also were dressed in Native American attire due to lack of uniforms and accouterments.
 

dgracia

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Well I'm quite well aware of how rifles are loaded and why..., and muskets..., and the reason and the rate of fire...,

Please note my question was regarding infantry in the F&I, and while in modern times "infantry" is all riflemen, in the F&I they were pretty much all musketmen, especially in the artwork, not to mention that orders were given for Light Infantry to carry horns in the F&I. Folks assume the regular infantry with horns seen in artwork must be light infantry, however, what does one do when carrying cartridges and gets a flash-in-the-pan? Does the infantryman destroy another cartridge, after pricking the touch hole, because he needs to reprime his piece, OR did some carry a horn for this purpose?

This is the question.....

LD
Sorry for the misunderstanding about musketmen not riflemen. I don't know that it is addressed anywhere specifically but I would say yes, they did indeed use another cartridge to re-charge the pan after they had a flash in the pan. That would be for the expediency of keeping up the rate of fire.

I can say that in reenactments, that is exactly what is done. If you have a flash in the pan, you pull another cartridge out of your cartridge box, bite of the end of it and charge the pan (after picking it of course). The rest of the powder is dumped on the ground and the cartridge paper is then dropped.

The part about dumping the powder may just be a reenactoranism as the safety rules at reenactments require dumping the powder prior to discarding the paper. Odds are if you are getting shot at in a musket line, you are just going to drop that paper after charging the pan. Safety rules also prohibit putting an opened cartridge back in your cartridge box and I would guess that was also in force at the time as the last thing you need is an open of black powder in your belt box or shoulder box.

The King's 1764 manual of arms very specifically sets out step by step how you are to load your "firelock" from a cartridge. There is no mention in that manual of arms of using a powder horn or an expectation of one to be carried by a musketman. And that manual of arms was used by all British troops during the Rev War.

Since all the British muskets were the same caliber, the cartridges could be made anywhere by non-combatants and they shipped the cartridges around by the barrel-full. They could be made in England as well as in the colonies and they often were. So "wasting a cartridge" would not be a big concern. If you saw the movie "Masters and Commanders", they actually portrayed that well in a scene where they cracked open one of those huge barrels full of cartridges and distributed cartridges to the men.

The colonies on the other hand were unable to do that until they received the huge quantities of French muskets after the battle of Saratoga when France decided the Revolution had a chance of succeeding. Prior to that, everyone had to make the cartridges that would fit their fowler, musket, or whatever firelock they had to use. The Saratoga battles were in September and October of 1777 and the French Muskets didn't arrive in masse until 1778. So until then, there was no standard caliber musket and as a result no standard cartridges. Plus, since the French musket was .69 caliber and the British Land Pattern muskets were .75 caliber, cartridges weren't interchangeable with those captured from the British.

And then of course the British troops also usually had a company of Hessian Jaegers with them which were rifleman. They used ~.62 caliber rifles and did carry powderhorns. They also often had mustaches, which the Brits did not allow their troops to wear. So if you see paintings or illustrations where the troops have mustaches, those are Hessians and if they have powder horns, odds are they are Jaegers.

Twisted_1in66 :thumb:
Dan
 

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Thanks for the reply, but...,

The King's 1764 manual of arms very specifically sets out step by step how you are to load your "firelock" from a cartridge. There is no mention in that manual of arms of using a powder horn or an expectation of one to be carried by a musketman. And that manual of arms was used by all British troops during the Rev War.
Yes the 1764 manual of arms did specify the loading of muskets for line troops, but says nothing about LIGHT INFANTRY troops. Neither did the previous manual. YET there were Light Infantry in BOTH the F&I and the AWI. So much for the manual being some sort of dogma.

Further, horns ARE SPECIFIED for light infantry. In both wars.

Since all the British muskets were the same caliber, the cartridges could be made anywhere by non-combatants and they shipped the cartridges around by the barrel-full. They could be made in England as well as in the colonies and they often were. So "wasting a cartridge" would not be a big concern. If you saw the movie "Masters and Commanders", they actually portrayed that well in a scene where they cracked open one of those huge barrels full of cartridges and distributed cartridges to the men.
Since the calibers of the musket barrels varied from .72 to .80 the cartridges for combat loading were normally made by the pioneers, and could also be purchased from private sources. The cartridges were made to not only fit a variety of barrel gauges AND to deal with fouling from repeated shots, the ball used was rather small.

Since the British army was actually short muskets in North America, they put Artillery Carbines into the hands of NCO's and other combatants, and those were .65 caliber, and needed a different cartridge altogether.

A single cartridge wasted in peacetime was a large concern. I should think that would not necessarily change in combat. The manual doesn't say when or how to save ammunition either.

The colonies on the other hand were unable to do that until they received the huge quantities of French muskets after the battle of Saratoga when France decided the Revolution had a chance of succeeding. Prior to that, everyone had to make the cartridges that would fit their fowler, musket, or whatever firelock they had to use. The Saratoga battles were in September and October of 1777 and the French Muskets didn't arrive in masse until 1778. So until then, there was no standard caliber musket and as a result no standard cartridges. Plus, since the French musket was .69 caliber and the British Land Pattern muskets were .75 caliber, cartridges weren't interchangeable with those captured from the British.
Well first, although there was no "standard size" for the arms found in the hands of the Continental Army (except for the Marylanders who were armed with older British muskets) until the switch to the French muskets, the cartridges could be mass produced, because following the British pattern, they were highly undersized. Anything larger than 14 gauge can shoot a British military musket cartridge. Anything smaller than 14 gauge down to 20 gauge can shoot the carbine cartridge. Militia guns smaller than .75 will become too fouled to load the British cartridge after firing less rounds, but the standard infantry load was a mere 18 rounds, and often less for American militia.

Actually sources also show that the British combat cartridge was so undersized, that it worked quite well in a French musket, but again, fouling would mean less rounds could be fired in a battle.

LD
 
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