Was a Fowler sometimes a Musket?

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dave_person

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Hi,
These discussions really get off in directions that are uninformative. When British ordnance and the French arsenals went to make muskets, they didn't make fowlers because they knew precisely the specifications for muskets. It was not ambiguous. However, sometimes American militia used their fowlers to substitute for muskets and usually only for a short time before they were issued real muskets. It is not semantics, it is not opinion, it is not differences of interpretation, it is a matter of clear government specifications.

dave
 

Loyalist Dave

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I had heard of this extremely good sense measure, but I am not aware of how often it was actually done.

This allowed small working parties with the bare necessities of equipment and under the watchful eyes of the Unit Artificers and/or Artillery NCO's/Officers, to easily make as many cartridges as needed for the unit. It allowed Commanding Officers to watch and control the ammunition and to easily keep track of what the soldiers had, as well as keeping waste to the minimum.

As I understand it, the militia soldiers left their personal arms at home, so their families had the means to defend themselves, while their militia were on campaign? Depending on the period, this was not as important to the Tidewater Region, but valuable to the Piedmont Region and downright necessary to those who lived in or beyond the Blue Ridge mountains.

Gus

That may have been for the AWI, but not leading up to it.

Virginia was one of the colonies cited by the now debunked historian Michael A. Bellesiles, who claimed that because correspondence was found complaining of men showing up at muster in Virginia without firelocks, THAT was evidence that proved the idea that the colonists were all armed was a myth.

YES there were reports of men appearing at muster without flintlocks, and claiming not to own such, but it was a way to dodge compulsory militia duty, OR to force the colony to provide the musket and ammo, instead of the private having to come out-of-pocket for the ball and powder, and perhaps also having to buy a stand of arms.

They had personal guns, but enforcing the requirement that they show up at muster with them and ammo, was another matter. The solution was for Virginia to do as Maryland had done, obtain muskets, bayonets, and cartridge boxes, and issue them. OH and locking up the private's personal gun or rifle in an armory while issuing him a musket, means he had to bring the musket back in working condition to get his piece out of storage. ;)

LD
 

oldarmy

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Have a reprint of an old bannerman's cataloge.it has dozens of old " muskets" that were converted into civilian fowling pieces. What a shame.they cut the stocks down.changed them to purcussian locks etc much like the modern WW1 and 2 rifles where "converted"
The catalogue dates to the mid 1920's.what a great time for gun owners you could buy anything u wanted lol
 
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OH and locking up the private's personal gun or rifle in an armory while issuing him a musket, means he had to bring the musket back in working condition to get his piece out of storage. ;)

LD

I would like to see that documentation and how widespread it was in both Maryland and Virginia.

I can't imagine they took what may have been the only firearm away from a family while the husband went off on campaign from the western counties of either state, thus leaving families defenseless on or close to the frontier.

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I would like to see that documentation and how widespread it was in both Maryland and Virginia.

I can't imagine they took what may have been the only firearm away from a family while the husband went off on campaign from the western counties of either state, thus leaving families defenseless on or close to the frontier.

Gus
Naw it was only done a few times, and it was after the fellow showed up with a gun so he was away from home anyway...

I think it was more of a "dodge" too. Virginians had been showing up in a lot of the Western counties claiming not to have a gun, but good luck getting them to pay a fine. That way they'd avoid mandatory militia call-out, or if called out they'd at least force the government to foot-the-bill for a gun and the ammo. After a while, from what I've read, the authorities in VA started to be a little more zealous in enforcing the militia law, but the law didn't specify bore, SO..., show up with a bore not suited to war, and get excused OR AGAIN force the government to provide the musket and the ammo.
😆
LD
 
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Muskets on display at the Museum of the Amer. Rev. in Philly; lots of fowler-type guns, some with barrels up to 5 ft. long! I think early militias used smooth fowlers for mustering, in lieu of proper military muskets. Took real nerve to face British Regulars at Concord that day!
 
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That may have been for the AWI, but not leading up to it.

Virginia was one of the colonies cited by the now debunked historian Michael A. Bellesiles, who claimed that because correspondence was found complaining of men showing up at muster in Virginia without firelocks, THAT was evidence that proved the idea that the colonists were all armed was a myth.

YES there were reports of men appearing at muster without flintlocks, and claiming not to own such, but it was a way to dodge compulsory militia duty, OR to force the colony to provide the musket and ammo, instead of the private having to come out-of-pocket for the ball and powder, and perhaps also having to buy a stand of arms.

They had personal guns, but enforcing the requirement that they show up at muster with them and ammo, was another matter. The solution was for Virginia to do as Maryland had done, obtain muskets, bayonets, and cartridge boxes, and issue them. OH and locking up the private's personal gun or rifle in an armory while issuing him a musket, means he had to bring the musket back in working condition to get his piece out of storage. ;)

LD
I don’t know the cost at the time. When Leman was making his Indian rifles he sold them for 14.50, later some as low as twelve. Hawkins were in the 25 dollar range.
A working man did well to earn $30 a month. Many successful farmers would live well on $500 a year. So even a cheep trade gun was the equivalent of half a months wages or more.
Food and clothing was higher in price then today in terms of man hours per week.
I would hazard that lots of ‘middleing’ folks in colonial time just could not afford a gun.
Added to the fact that most people lived in a community. There was little hunting to be done. A person was expected to work sun up to sundown. Six days a week and church on Sunday. Sunday afternoon was about the only free time for fun. Or maybe a pint at the local public house of an evening
 

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I don’t know the cost at the time. When Leman was making his Indian rifles he sold them for 14.50, later some as low as twelve. Hawkins were in the 25 dollar range.
A working man did well to earn $30 a month. Many successful farmers would live well on $500 a year. So even a cheep trade gun was the equivalent of half a months wages or more.
Food and clothing was higher in price then today in terms of man hours per week.
I would hazard that lots of ‘middleing’ folks in colonial time just could not afford a gun.
Added to the fact that most people lived in a community. There was little hunting to be done. A person was expected to work sun up to sundown. Six days a week and church on Sunday. Sunday afternoon was about the only free time for fun. Or maybe a pint at the local public house of an evening

Actually it has been shown, that the idea the population was not armed is bunk. And the population was actually well armed too.
The fines and the laws and the probate records demonstrate this very well. Bellesiles tried to make this very argument, and fudged his records and "lost" his notes... but his claim has crept into the thinking patterns a bit, still.

At the time of the F&I a rifle cost about 1½ month's wages, but was normally bought on credit. A Fusil Neat was (iirc) less than one pound [ £1 ].

Here we see how the Militia Law in one colony evolved. Just at the F&I war, it is noted that certain occupations are "exempt" from militia duty, meaning they do not need to carry a musket, BUT they can be pressed into service for their occupation, so physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries can be ordered into the field, AND because they cannot be made to carry muskets, they must either pay $3 or provide a musket and bayonet to the Colony, which will then be issued out to those in need.

By the AWI you showed up with your firelock or with the state issued one, or you got fined, AND if you showed up with the firelock in disrepair, you got fined. This continued well into the fur trade, when Maryland by that time had no real frontier, nor any real threat from Indians.

Maryland Militia Law 1755 (archives of Maryland online)

…, But in Case any Physician Surgeon, or Apothecary, shall engage as aforesaid, and upon receiving the direction of the Colonel or Commanding Officer aforesaid, shall willfully refuse or neglect to do and perform his Duty, according to his Said Engagement, in Such Case Such Physician, Surgeon or Apothecaries, shall forfeit and pay the Sum of Twenty Pounds Current Money, and be liable thereafter to the Performance of all every Military Service and Duty whatsoever, any Law usage or Custom to the contrary notwithstanding.

Be it therefore Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that all and every the Persons, whose Real and Personal Estate is of the Value of forty Pounds Sterling, to be determined as aforesaid) before exempted from Services of the Militia, and all Men above the Age of Sixty Years of the Ability aforesaid, shall each of them find one good and Sufficient Firelock, with a Bayonet, and deliver the Same to the Colonel or Commanding Officer of the County wherein he shall reside, or pay to the Said Colonel or Commanding Officer the Sum of Three Pounds Current Money in lieu thereof, in Six Months after the Publication of this Act, on Pain that every Person aforesaid of such ability as aforesaid, who shall neglect or omit to find and deliver Such Arms as aforesaid, or pay Such Sum of Money as aforesaid in lieu thereof, Shall be Subject and liable to every Service and Duty of the Militia; any Proviso, Clause, or thing herein contained, or any Law, Custom, or Usage, to the Contrary, Notwithstanding.

And Be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid that the Arms which shall be delivered to the Colonels or Commanding Officers aforesaid in manner aforesaid shall be distributed among such Persons as shall need the Same, and not of the Ability aforesaid to Purchase his Arms

Maryland Militia Law 1775

the ammunition & arms into their hands and distribute them as wanted for Actual Service—that every man should be obliged to provide a good firelock and keep it in repair at his own expense and also the Accoutrements named by the Convention—…, those who are able & do not every day of Mustering appear with their Arms &c in good order to be soundly fined, and the officers fined for suffering such Neglect or degraded...,

That every non-commissioned officer and private of the minute men and militia appear at the time and place appointed for their respective appearance, for mustering, with his firelock and other accoutrements in good order, …, and if any minute or militia man shall not appear at the time and place of muster with his firelock and other accoutrements in good order, having no reasonable excuse, or shall not there, after appearance, behave himself decently, and in a manner suitable to the attention and care requisite in such exercise, he shall forfeit and pay a sum not exceeding five shillings common money for every such neglect or misbehaviour, which shall be determined by the captain, lieutenants and ensign, or any two of them, either on their own view, or on representation and proof thereof, and on non-payment shall be committed to the custody of the sergeant of his company till payment.

( That's 5s per infraction, cumulative, and they could hold you until you paid)

Maryland Militia Law 1811 (fur trade era but before War of 1812)

AND BE IT ENACTED, That if any non-commissioned officer or private, who has provided himself with a musket or firelock, or who has received one the property of the state, shall appear in the ranks at any of said meetings without such musket or firelock, he shall be fined a sum not less than one dollar, nor more than three dollars, in the discretion of a company court-martial; and if such non-commissioned officer or private shall appear without such musket or firelock in serviceable order, he shall forfeit twenty-five cents for every such neglect.

(So now it's 25¢, aka "two bits" for every infraction, cumulative)

1834 (6 years before the last Fur Trade Rondezvous)
And be it enacted, That if any noncommissioned officer, or private, who has provided himself with a musket or firelock, or who has received one, the property of the state, shall appear in the ranks, at any meeting for inspection or drill, ordered by this act, or the by-laws of the company of which he s a member, without such musket or firelock, he shall be fined a sum not less than one dollar, nor more than two dollars, in the discretion of the officer then commanding said company ;

(Still 25¢, for every infraction, cumulative, and well beyond the threat of Indian trouble in Maryland)

So yes a small portion of the population might not have afforded a firelock, but they were then issued one, and if they didn't maintain it..., they got fined, ... there is no provision for any sort of judgement that the person issued a musket was not able to pay the fine...

LD
 
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My how times have changed, Maryland then fined you for not having a gun, maryland now wants to fine you for having one. Or god forbid Maryland just wants you to not own a weapon.
 
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I'm interested in this because I'm working on a Fowler build and very interested in the history.

In my my mind a Musket is a military gun like a Brown Bess, made for military not for hunting. But when men picked up their Smoothbore Fowling pieces and headed off to join up with a Militia was the Fowler called a "Musket" in that setting?

Did people refer to Fowling pieces as muskets on the Colonial homestead?
What is the definition of a Musket? What's the difference between a Musket and a Fowler?

I added a pic of my Fowler I'm building just for fun!
View attachment 129269
Nice!
 
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The Museum of the American Revolution in Philly has a number of looong barrel, up to 5 feet! fowlers; apparently the early militias would muster carrying the very guns they had at home on the farm; fowlers!
 
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