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Indian pickups of Besses

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goon

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From my limited experience with Native people, I'd say they were individuals.
Some would have had their own guns and felt the British muskets not worth the weight. Some would have scavenged powder and lead. Some would have looked for brandy. Some would have carried two muskets back, figuring they'd have to be good for something. A few of those guys would have discarded one of those muskets on the way because they're just too heavy.
Point being, it's anyone's guess.
 

rich pierce

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Exactly. Trying to reason what other people would have done centuries ago and in a different culture is silly.
 

Rod Lassey

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I'd agree, trying to figure out what they picked up, what they didn't, and why they did or didn't would be anyone's guess. One guy may have needed a musket, and picked one up, another may have thought it not worth the time and effort, a third may have picked up a broken one because he needed a barrel to turn into hide scrapers, etc. There's just no way of knowing, as mentioned I'd like to see some corroborative archaeology reports.

As for the chewed ball, here's the conclusions of a guy who's tested them and who's opinion I value:

http://buffalotrace1765.blogspot.com/2011/03/chewed-bullets-flying.html

Rod
 
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Moose Guide

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I personaly have never met a man of any race or religion who would turn down a free rifle that has no strings attached!
 

pargent

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Besses , brown bess , English military issue and Colonial issue for over 100years (smooth bore musket) :)
 

colmoultrie

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Wow, this has been the thread that keeps on giving! Of course the original report was hearsay, but it's inferences are interesting. Nothing that I can think of would lead people to say the arms were Braddock's except military characteristics, and that would be Besses, most likely. Who knows?

Rich is right; we certainly can't generalize how people from different cultures would have acted over two centuries ago. There are too many individuals, too many variables. Yet that was the point of my original post; there were "experts" saying no Indian would ever pick up a Bess, and I thought that was silly - the newspaper account seems to cast doubt on those "expert" claims.
 

pargent

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:rotf: There are actualy people who study hard to qualify to do just that , and some make a good living out of it and contribute greatly to the history and prehistory of the world as we know it . :)
 

Belleville

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For anyone who is interested, the original topic was way back in '08... (Topic#223685). There is a lot of good information about different variants of Brown Besses (as well as a few catcalls, raspberries, and a bit of heat).

Among the reasons that I reference it were the assertions that there was no archeological evidence of Brown Bess usage by natives (which may, of course be true, as this account is not archaeology), and that all of the weapons from Braddock's Defeat were gathered up and shipped to Louisburg. Here is primary source evidence that seems to bolster your "no definite all-inclusive answer," TG. It seems at least several Indians didn't hand over the muskets like they were supposed to - as this event also took place in PA, perhaps they didn't have that far to go.

The "each had five large Bullets in it, well chew'd" reference is also interesting. They must be referring to buck-and-ball or large shot, as I can't imagine anyone knowingly loading with five .69-.75 cal. balls! :doh:

Well-chewed? :confused:
I agree. Might be 5 balls from the Indians pouches? That would be approx. .56 cal.
 

NorthFork

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Chewing balls was a common practice used to alter the dimension of a bullet that was either a little too large or a little too small to fit whatever gun they were using. If too large, it could be chewed down into a slightly oblong shape which would allow it to fit down the bore, with or without a patch as desired. If too small, chewing and roughing up the surface would allow whatever patching material (if available) was on hand to get a little better grip on the ball and allow the rifling to do it's job. This practice was probably not overly conducive to a high level of accuracy, but worked in a pinch. Because much of the hunting and fighting was done in the warmer months when the vegetation was at it's fullest and visibility was greatly limited, the ranges were shorter. And, as many of us know, most hunting and combat does not require extreme accuracy as there are so many other factors that come into play. -Smoothshooter
 

tenngun

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Not just the Indians but many peoples who have fought the Brits ( or what have you).
If you captured a Fort you often used it, if you captured a warship you pressed it in to your navy. So what do you do with battle field guns picked up?
Strip and recast the brass, turn the barrels over to the production companies to rework into a barrel?
There were lots of besses made over the years. And the Brits left them in more fields then just Braddocks defeat.
‘54-58 were tough years on the colonial frontier for the Brits. The French and Indian allies had lots of success in that time frame. Lots of besses got in to F and I hands.
Conversely we don’t talk about a lot of Charlie’s in Indian hands. But ol’ John Bull and his Indian allies caught a few of them tween 58-60-63.
Governments as well as individuals were cash strapped then.
They saved salt pork and beef, ships bread and other preserved foods to feed to their men until used up. No ‘best used by’ dates back then.
After modern wars much equipment has been dumped at sea or sent to the scrapers. However it’s hard to picture any of the kingdoms of Western Europe scraping serviceable guns.
In Europe there would be some German prince, Hungarian duke, or bearded Turk ready to buy some surplus. In America not only was there a market to sell guns but also a demand for gifts, gifts for a village by the ton.
In that world where was the incentive to discard captured military supplies.
 

IL Rifle

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I agree that it’s likely that some, maybe most, Native Americans picked up Besses after Braddock’s defeat. Since they were not as organized as the French or British regulars it was all dependent on the individual’s need and want. As to the difference in caliber from trade guns, for each “available” Bess, there was an available, and no longer needed, ammunition box on a sling. Plus, Braddock had a train that included ammunition wagons with powder and precast balls. Or at least lead ingots and molds. As valuable as powder and lead were, and with available draft animals, it’s likely enterprising individuals or groups found ways to carry off what they wanted.
 

LSU520

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British Muskets during the French and Indian War were not considered high quality guns, they were too long and too heavy. Native Americans preferred lighter guns. The American Colonists even preferred to not use British Arms, captured French Muskets were preferred because they were about 2-3 lbs lighter and could be customized (sights added, comb reduced, barrel cut down) If they were not stamped by the British.
 

nhmoose

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Huh? A firearm would be picked up. They are not effeminate Millennials . Any Firelock was better than any arms they had before.

Even today in any Battle they would get picked up. Leave an arm to the enemy? Not
 

AmRevBearclaw

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Sure..., you chose the lighter weapon as you need to move very fast..., your argument is that they would pick up a heavier weapon(s), that doesn't use the same ammunition, will slow them down, is the "mark" of the enemy so might piss-off their ally who supplies their ammunition, because it may appear to the ally that they are dealing with both sides..., and that same ally doesn't want to buy those other guns either.

Well they could trade them to the English later you say? The English wouldn't buy them as unless the buyer fell into a category that would allow personal ownership of a musket, and the musket markings were those that were sold as surplus..., the English subject possessing a King's Musket is holding stolen property. You don't want to be caught stealing the King's property, or worse, be found to be a deserter because you carry a King's musket, and hanged. (Not like they can compare your photo, finger print, and DNA to military enlistment records eh?) And let us not forget that an Indian might very well view the arms of a defeated foe as inferior, and perhaps bad luck, as the previous user is dead.

Now scalps are smaller, lighter, and worth more than any musket, and you can carry many more scalps than muskets..., It would be even more feasible that they'd pick up the ammunition for the Bess first, as the powder could be used, and the lead traded or melted and poured into useable ammunition, than to pick up a great honkin' First model King's musket, and lug it all the way home.

LD
This is certainly speculation, but what about trading them to the French? I don't know how much need they would have for British muskets, but it also seems as though they at least wouldn't have had many qualms about receiving goods stolen/looted from the British army given the ongoing conflict with them at the time. Maybe the inadequate funding/support that Montcalm received during the F/I war would have created a need to acquire additional muskets in a creative manner like this? Does anyone have any primary source information that might illuminate their thinking on this?
 

AmRevBearclaw

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Huh? A firearm would be picked up. They are not effeminate Millennials . Any Firelock was better than any arms they had before.

Even today in any Battle they would get picked up. Leave an arm to the enemy? Not
I've heard anecdotes about the Viet Cong passing on opportunities to loot American M-16s from the battlefield because of its reputation as an inferior weapon. I'm not sure of how truthful this is or how common it would be though.

That said, based on what I know about the importance of prizes being taken from battle to American Indians, it seems plausible to me that they would have looted these weapons on at least some occasions.
 

Loyalist Dave

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That said, based on what I know about the importance of prizes being taken from battle to American Indians, it seems plausible to me that they would have looted these weapons on at least some occasions.
As I've mentioned before, it seems to be mostly a situation of time and distance. You also mentioned cultural bias and that may play a part too. So if it's merely this...,

Any Firelock was better than any arms they had before. Even today in any Battle they would get picked up. Leave an arm to the enemy? Not
..., that's an application of modern mind-set to a stoneage way of life. Indians are documented to be incredibly light in equipment when moving for warfare. Even to the extent of not taking food and not foraging along the route. Indian trade guns were very light compared to their European military counterpart weapons. The French knew their muskets and fusils were better than the English and Dutch versions, so a "trade" there is quite unlikely. How much could one get for one as well? What happens to the Indians stuck in between and trying to trade with the English and the French (where they got the guns) when they get caught by the English with what is still property of The King?

Even taking that into account, you have Indian raids that hit settlements, then went further into white territory, hit more settlements, then took a different exit route hitting more settlements along the way. Yet as they went in and came out, they didn't strip the homesteads of their firearms, as they then would have to lug all that iron around while at the same time worrying about a militia unit getting on their path. Captives were taken, and carried "spoils" but not much documentation if any of those spoils being guns. Further, when small garrisons at frontier forts fell, say during Pontiac's Rebellion, you see the muskets disappear, but you don't see them again...at all. Meaning if the Indians did take them for some use, they are never seen again, which leads more to the idea, of YES take the weapons from your enemy, but Ditch them in the river or large creek close bys so they are quickly ruined, instead of lugging them several hundred miles on foot through rough terrain. So IF the Indians stripped Braddock's men..., that's what they likely did as there (so far) isn't any documentation anyplace of the muskets ever turning up again, anywhere.

LD
 

tenngun

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As I've mentioned before, it seems to be mostly a situation of time and distance. You also mentioned cultural bias and that may play a part too. So if it's merely this...,



..., that's an application of modern mind-set to a stoneage way of life. Indians are documented to be incredibly light in equipment when moving for warfare. Even to the extent of not taking food and not foraging along the route. Indian trade guns were very light compared to their European military counterpart weapons. The French knew their muskets and fusils were better than the English and Dutch versions, so a "trade" there is quite unlikely. How much could one get for one as well? What happens to the Indians stuck in between and trying to trade with the English and the French (where they got the guns) when they get caught by the English with what is still property of The King?

Even taking that into account, you have Indian raids that hit settlements, then went further into white territory, hit more settlements, then took a different exit route hitting more settlements along the way. Yet as they went in and came out, they didn't strip the homesteads of their firearms, as they then would have to lug all that iron around while at the same time worrying about a militia unit getting on their path. Captives were taken, and carried "spoils" but not much documentation if any of those spoils being guns. Further, when small garrisons at frontier forts fell, say during Pontiac's Rebellion, you see the muskets disappear, but you don't see them again...at all. Meaning if the Indians did take them for some use, they are never seen again, which leads more to the idea, of YES take the weapons from your enemy, but Ditch them in the river or large creek close bys so they are quickly ruined, instead of lugging them several hundred miles on foot through rough terrain. So IF the Indians stripped Braddock's men..., that's what they likely did as there (so far) isn't any documentation anyplace of the muskets ever turning up again, anywhere.

LD
That’s great. Indians were picky consumers. And forced the trade to service their needs not the other way around.
And even back then war stuff that couldn’t be carried off was burned.
The fact of missing parts in village archeology is a big trump of any logical arguments of ‘they must have done such and such’
However....
French forces are right there and French fort ain’t too far away. It’s not like they were on their way for a two moon hunt in the Caintuck
I wonder if that should play in to it.
 

LSU520

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There is Minimal evidence to suppport that Native Americans would use Brown Bess muskets dropped in battle.

It should be noted that the British were very meticulous and astute when it came to accounting for their property, even in battles they had lost.

British muskets really had minimal use outside of infantry ranks and Native Americans were anything but that. Smoothbore trade guns and fusils and carbines were valued for their minimal weight.
 

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