Fredericksburg/Rappahanock Forge Muskets

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by Steve Blancard, Dec 15, 2007.

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  1. Dec 15, 2007 #1

    Steve Blancard

    Steve Blancard

    Steve Blancard

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    I thought I'd start a new topic on these, since the "Contintal Army Musket" topic has evolved towards these guns.

    I went down to the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center this morning and took some photos of the two muskets on display. One was made at the Fredericksburg Manufatuary of Arms in 1776, the other at the Rappahonnock Forge around 1780. Photos are not normally allowed, but I received permission from the museum director. The muskets are inside a plexiglas display case, so it they were difficult to photograph. I appologize for the reflections in some of the photos.

    I know almost nothing about these, other than they are obviously patterned after the Brown Bess. I'd really like to hear your comments regarding their features. How close are they to a Brown Bess? What unique features do they have?

    Fredericksburg and Rappahannock Forge Muskets

    Thanks,
    Steve
     
  2. Dec 15, 2007 #2

    flintlock75

    flintlock75

    flintlock75

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    Nice Pictures,
    They are very close to the brown bess design.
    The thing that stands out to me is the lock shape.
    It appears smaller in size and a very different shape, the bess lock is more bannana shaped. the locks pictured look more like up sized rifle locks.Kind of humpy vs curved and more streamlined. Also smaller frizzens. These lock plates are also flat vs a rounded surface for the bess. I dont know what the barrel length of those muskets are but they look shorter than 42" barrels on the bess, hard to tell from picture.
    The .75 caliber is the same as a bess. the other features appear to be the same, ie. swell at forearm, steel ramrod, brass nose cap, sling swivels, the buttstocks are same and the but plate looks simalar as well. By the appearnce they are overall the same pattern as the brown bess. I think if you changed the lock on a bess to one with a flat surface it could easly pass for the american version.
     
  3. Dec 15, 2007 #3

    Many Klatch

    Many Klatch

    Many Klatch

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    The Rappahanock Musket has a real front sight, where as the Bess has a much wider bayonet lug for a front sight. The Rappahanock musket was meant to be aimed and fired. The Bess was volley fired without aiming.

    Many Klatch
     
  4. Dec 16, 2007 #4

    Carteret Kid

    Carteret Kid

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    Great photos . :hatsoff:
    Could that sight have been modified post war for hunting use ? The smaller locks would be an economy measure by gunsmiths used to sporting arms . I believe the military locks were made extra large for duribility . Big parts are harder to break .
     
  5. Dec 16, 2007 #5

    Carteret Kid

    Carteret Kid

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    Lack of documentation ,records or a coherant system of markings make research on this catagory of guns SO frustrating . And the stories they come with make it more confusing. Does anyone know when historians started to do real research on Rev war weapons ?
     
  6. Dec 16, 2007 #6

    burgessrudy

    burgessrudy

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    Ditto on the lock. In one of the photographs it does appear that one of the guns front trigger guard has an acorn final, same as the Bess. Both guns have been used extensively and one gun has a huge touch hole.
     
  7. Dec 16, 2007 #7

    Carteret Kid

    Carteret Kid

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    Could the enlarged vent be from a drum type percussion conversion , that was restored to flint ?
     
  8. Dec 16, 2007 #8

    Many Klatch

    Many Klatch

    Many Klatch

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    The front sight could have been modified, a little fancy file work and a couple of centuries of use would certainly make it look original. I don't have any experience with original Bess's, but in my Pedersoli Bess the bayonet lug is silver soldered on, I imagine that the originals were silver soldered on as well, as that would make constructing the barrels a lot easier.

    I modified the front sight of my Bess after seeing a picture of an original modified Bess posted on this website by Undertaker. I filed down the bayonet lug about half way and then cut a groove in the bayonet lug and soft soldered a blade front sight in the groove. It is a lot easier to aim at small targets now.

    Many Klatch
     
  9. Dec 16, 2007 #9

    Many Klatch

    Many Klatch

    Many Klatch

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    The touch hole on my Pedersoli Bess is about that size. The larger touch holes are more reliable for ignition. You may loose some compression, but you can always up the charge a few grains. When I started out shooting years ago a few old timers told me that "the touchhole is too big when the ball rolls out the hole".

    Many Klatch
     
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  10. Dec 16, 2007 #10

    Va.Manuf.06

    Va.Manuf.06

    Va.Manuf.06

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    The touch hole looks pretty normal to me. :) Thanks for posting these, good pics of these are few and far between. If I remember correctly, the bayonet lugs (modified to front sights on these two examples) and barrel lugs were dovetailed and brazed - the work was done so tightly that it is often impossible to see.
     
  11. Dec 17, 2007 #11

    Steve Blancard

    Steve Blancard

    Steve Blancard

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    I'm glad you all found the photos interesting. Your thoughts and comments are much appreciated.
     
  12. Dec 17, 2007 #12

    Steve Blancard

    Steve Blancard

    Steve Blancard

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    Ok, lets say someone wanted to make a reasonably close replica of the Fredericksburg musket using a repro Brown Bess as the starting point. I don't think changing to a smaller lock plate would be an option, but it seems like these steps could be done without too much difficulty:

    *File lockplate smooth, re-engrave with Fredericksburg markings.

    *Add sling swivels

    *file sight base to match original Fred musket profile

    What else could/should be done?

    Thanks,
    Steve
     
  13. Dec 18, 2007 #13

    Many Klatch

    Many Klatch

    Many Klatch

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    I don't know that you'd have to do much more. There apparently are only two surviving specimens out of several hundred that were made. They were all hand made and there would have been some minor differences, I doubt that the quality control would have been as strict as the English armory. I'd go with your changes and see if any one could tell the difference.

    Many Klatch
     
  14. Dec 18, 2007 #14

    Carteret Kid

    Carteret Kid

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    I agree . Given what we know of the VA muskets a Bess or any English fowler of the period with the Fred marking would be PC . Creating your own Fred musket sounds facinating . Adding a few non standard parts would give it character . Even in peace time many or most of the Colonial made arms were composite made .
     
  15. Dec 18, 2007 #15

    Carteret Kid

    Carteret Kid

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    Depending on how good you are carving wood you could add a nonstandard but PC butt plate . The plate should look like something from an older arm ,like a fowler . The story could be ; a British arm recovered from battlefield minus buttstock and restocked at Fredricksburg .
    If you can find or make one , a non standard ramrod could be added . Make it a rod that fits but looks non standard . The records state they had trouble finding steel to make modern rods and had to substitute iron .
    You coud also flatten the round top of the frizzen like the older locks of the Queen Anne era .(see the English dog lock trade musket at Loyalist arms )
     
  16. Dec 19, 2007 #16

    Steve Blancard

    Steve Blancard

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    Thanks guys, I appreciate your comments. Looks like I have a project ahead of me.
    Steve
     
  17. Dec 30, 2007 #17

    patriot

    patriot

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    Many years ago (I bet over 20) Pedersoli did manufacture a few locks engraved with Fred on the lockplate. At the time, I had no idea what/why it was there. I was just beginning to get involved in muzzleloading and I was more interested in the Hawken rifles and that time period. These Fredericksburg locks were installed in their Brown Bess. I was told that they were a limited run, but I don't know how many were made. They were sold by and featured in Track of the Wolf. They are no longer available. I even contacted Pedersoli to see if they would be willing to do a run. It had to be orchestrated through one of their importers. Cost prohibitive for what you get. I thought it would be nice to have one, since I live in Fredericksburg, VA. It's not going to happen.
    Instead, I went ahead and purchased a Militia Musket from ERA and am completely satisfied with that decision. Now I have a generic musket that will pass muster for a Rev weapon.

    Patriot
     
  18. Dec 31, 2007 #18

    Steve Blancard

    Steve Blancard

    Steve Blancard

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    Wow! That is surprising. I have to wonder what inspired Pedersoli to replicate it. I can't imagine there was much of demand for it, except by us locals. Thanks for the insight.
    Steve
     
  19. Jan 1, 2008 #19

    Carteret Kid

    Carteret Kid

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    Patriot , what can you tell me about your Militia Musket ? I have been checking the ERA web site . They dont tell much .
     
  20. Jan 1, 2008 #20

    oreclan

    oreclan

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    If you have a TOTW catalog their locks are shown full size. Make a tracing of an appropriate lock and try it in the lock mortice. Or try LOCK-OS-FL-RH on [url] http://www.trackofthewolf.com.../partList.aspx?catID=14&subID=148&styleID=839[/url]
    This has given me an idea for a possible project.Thanks.
    YMH&OS
    Ron M.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2018

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