Gunpowder Bags

Discussion in 'Historically Accurate Equipment' started by Crewdawg445, Apr 30, 2017.

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  1. Apr 30, 2017 #1

    Crewdawg445

    Crewdawg445

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    I'm trying to dig into the use, carry and construction of the gunpowder bag. I had someone ask me if I carried one, answer was no and it caused my mind to wonder. It's not a specific piece of kit I know much about.

    I'm not having much luck locating any period information on the specifics. Any one have any more information or details concerning them? Thanks gents! (I type this as I sit by the Disney castle in Disney World... What an andventure... :grin:)
     
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  2. Apr 30, 2017 #2

    Artificer

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    When I think of a gunpowder bag, I think of the bags sewn up to use when loading cannon.

    Did someone ask you a question and did not know what a Shot Pouch/Hunting Bag was originally called and used "Gunpowder Bag" as a way to describe that?

    Gus
     
  3. Apr 30, 2017 #3

    Crewdawg445

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    No, they went straight to the point and asked if I carried extra powder in a gunpowder bag.

    Personally I've never known of carrying powder outside of the horn or a keg. A little searching and I've found a few sources explaining their use, but I feel that's not enough information to justify any widespread use.
     
  4. Apr 30, 2017 #4

    Artificer

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    The only time I recall ever reading about powder being carried in a bag or apron (outside of powder bags for cannon) were in emergency situations and usually a fight was either imminent or actually going on and they were bringing powder to those who had or were running out.

    The fact that the normal linen bags were not waterproof and of course made it MUCH more dangerous to carry powder and being around open flames, sure would have limited any use in the period. Bags made out of Buckskin maybe?

    Sorry I can't be of more help.

    Gus
     
  5. Apr 30, 2017 #5

    Crewdawg445

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    That's okay! From what I have found they were essentially a waxed/ waterproofed leather bag.
     
  6. May 1, 2017 #6

    LongrifleDoc

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    Keith Burgess briefly shows a gunpowder bag as part of his kit in this video. He seems to be quite an authority on early 18th century living.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrEwpTjQt18
     
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  7. May 1, 2017 #7

    coloradoclyde

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    Neither cow nor buffalo could be found in many parts of the country for making horns... Tinsmiths for flasks,the same.... But leather could be found upon any animal, virtually anywhere......
     
  8. May 1, 2017 #8

    Spence10

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    I've never run across a direct reference to powder being carried in a bag by an individual, but there are some period references which offer tantalizing hints. Powder stored at home in a leather bag:

    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    April 12, 1739
    BOSTON, February 26.
    "Wednesday Morning a sorrowful Accident happen'd at the House of Cap. Thomas Homans in the westerly Part of this Town near Hooper's Meeting House: A small Quantity of Powder (suppos'd to be about a Quart) in a Leathern Bag, having been some time since put up on the Jam of a Chimney in a Chamber wherein they had been us'd to make a Fire, and the Family being about moving into the Country, did not suppose they should every have Occasion for a Fire there: But a young Child being out of Order two or three Days ago, they made a Fire in the same Chimney, and unhappily forgot the Powder, which taking Fire, the Effects of it were surprizing: A fine Child, (a Son) of about Eighteen Months old, was so burnt and its Joints so shattered by it, as that it died within about a Quarter of an Hour; and Mrs. Homans with two or three other Women in the Room were very much burnt and wounded; but it's hop'd they will recover: The Explosion was so violent, (the Room being close) that it beat down the Floor of the Chamber, so that the Tenons of the Summer broke out of the Mortices; the Partitions of each side the Chamber were beat down and the Doors very much shatter'd; the Ceiling above was also blown up, and several Things broke to pieces in the Garret; and breaking off some of the Pointing, the blast burst open the Door on the Top of the House, and expanded itself in the Air."

    Samuel Hearne discussing the making of tinder from a fungus, powder in a bag mentioned, bag not described:

    A Journey to the Northern Ocean, Samuel Hearne, 1769-1772

    "This is found in old decayed poplars, and lies in flakes of various sizes and thickness; some is not thicker than shammoy leather, others are as thick as a shoe-sole. This, like the fungus of the birch-tree, is always moist when taken from the tree, but when dry, it is very soft and flexible, and takes fire readily from the spark of a steel; but it is much improved by being kept in a bag that has contained gunpowder.

    Spence
     
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  9. May 1, 2017 #9

    LongrifleDoc

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    Spence10, I always enjoy your informative posts.
     
  10. May 1, 2017 #10

    Crewdawg445

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    I was hoping you'd come across this post Spence. You didn't disappoint sir, thank you for the information. :hatsoff:

    Indeed one should not store powder within the family dwellings chimney... Scary account.
     
  11. May 1, 2017 #11

    Spence10

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    It seems obvious our ancestors had a much more cavalier attitude toward safety with black powder than we do. Maybe because it was such a common item at the time and they were so accustomed to dealing with it. Could be an early example of the principle that 'familiarity breeds contempt". :grin:

    THE SOUTH CAROLINA GAZETTE
    July 24, 1736
    Charleston, South Carolina
    "On the 8th Inst. a sad Misfortune happened at Wiltown, Mr. Welsh who kept Store there, having weighed two lb. of Gun-powder and put it in a Paper upon the Counter, another Man came in to light his Pipe and letting some of the Fire upon the Paper, the Powder in it went off immediately and set one Barril with Powder which was under the Counter and another over against it in Fire at once, which blew up the House, whereby Mr. Welsh and a Boy were kill'd, and a great many Persons that were then in and about the House, miserably hurt and burnt."

    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    August 9, 1764
    BOSTON, July 30.
    "We hear from Rocky Hill, in Connecticut, that a Negroe Fellow belonging to Mr. Brandykee, having been offended, took a Knife, with a Flint , and ran up to the Garret, where was a Half Barrel of Powder open, and struck a Fire therein, which blew the Negroe and the Roof of the House into the Air, and tore him to Pieces. A Man in the House saw him strike Fire once, which did not catch, and saved himself by running down Stairs just before the Explosion."

    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    May 15, 1755
    St. JOHN(in Antigua) February 22.
    "Last Tuesday Morning the following Accident happened on board a Snow lying at a Hulk in the Cove. A Negroe Man having Occasion to kindle a Fire in the Caboose, brought a Bottle of Powder thereto, and, after taking a small Quantity out, to supply the Want of Tinder , set the Remainder down by him: While he struck Fire, a Spark unfortunately reached the Bottle, which immediately burst, and reported like a Hand Grenade, whereby the Fellow was dreadfully wounded in the Breast: He did not seem hurt directly, but silently retired a few Yards, and leaned against Part of the Vessel, tho' in a short Time he gradually reclined backwards, fell on the Deck, groaned and expired. Another Negroe Man was also much wounded in his Head and Breast."

    Spence
     
  12. May 1, 2017 #12

    Spence10

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    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    September 27, 1758
    Lately imported from London, Bristol and Liverpool,
    .... ruff and glazed F and FF gunpowder in quarter casks, bar lead, pigeon, duck and goose shot, firkins of English gun flints , also best oil flints ,

    The Pennsylvania Gazette
    September 22, 1763
    "To be SOLD by ROBERT LETTIS HOOPER, jun. .... superfine Rifle Powder by the Quarter Cask or Pound,"

    When you think of how gunpowder was sold over the counter, you realize there must surely have been some way of parceling it out other than straight into powder horns. The idea that they might have put it into leather or cloth bags doesn't seem unreasonable. Or other, more interesting containers, smaller and more easily transported than a quarter cask.

    From the journal of William Calk, April, 1775, one of the first settlers to Kentucky, in Company with Richard Henderson, who 'bought' Kentucky from the Cherokee:

    "I turnd my hors to drive afore me & he got scard ran away threw Down the Saddel Bags and broke three of our powder goards....

    Spence
     
  13. May 1, 2017 #13

    Crewdawg445

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    It's rather amusing to read those reports... Unfortunate endings to say the least. Still it goes to show in any form, gunpowder is absolutely no joke, nor is it's storage.
     
  14. May 3, 2017 #14

    Crewdawg445

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    https://youtu.be/TjEuvbTv99Y

    Excellent, this man reminds me of my grandfather on many levels. Sure miss him, at any rate figured I'd share this link for others who are curious.
     
  15. Nov 4, 2018 #15

    Le Loup

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    [​IMG]

    24 pounds of gunpowder in one bag of half an ell
    6 pounds of gunpowder in bags of one eighth of an ell
    From this account I interpret this to mean that either there was no standard size for a gunpowder bag, or there were a variety of sizes ready made to choose from.
    https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2014/08/by-john-buxton.html
    https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2011/01/gunpowder-bags.html
    https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2012/03/two-more-gunpowder-bags.html
    https://books.google.com.au/books?i...s gunpowder sold in bags 18th century&f=false

    To date I have not found any evidence or documentation suggesting that gunpowder was sold in bags, but I am still looking. If this was the case, then we will have to assume that individuals made their own gunpowder bags.
    Keith.
     
  16. Nov 4, 2018 #16

    Spence10

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    Duplicate post, please ignore.

    Spence
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  17. Nov 4, 2018 #17

    Le Loup

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    Many thanks Spence, that top account is one that I have not seen before. Well done.
    Regards, Keith.
     
  18. Nov 5, 2018 #18

    Flint62Smoothie

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    No kidding ....

    Thanks to Spence for digging them up!
     
  19. Nov 12, 2018 at 2:43 AM #19

    Spence10

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    You are more than welcome, Keith, I'll never catch up to all the good primary material you have made available. Another which might be useful...

    From the Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Va., February 1st, 1757
    "His honor (Governor) was pleased likewise to lay before the board two letters from Colo. Read dated 24th of january (1757)...

    "He thinks every man should have a wallet of oznabrigs to carry his provisions in when they leave their horses at the passes of the mountains, and two pair of mockasheens- that blankets would be wanted and clasp knives, thread for the linen and woolen bags for transporting the powder when taken from the wagons...."

    Spence
     

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