Author Topic: Longrifles as military arms.  (Read 21593 times)

northmn

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Longrifles as military arms.
« on: October 01, 2009, 06:26:35 PM »
In the discussion that developed on the Revolutionary war I mentioned that the longrifle may have been lacking as a military arm.  As an example, the British wanted to replace the SMLE before WWI.  Today some complain that it has excess head space and is not real accurate and swear at the two piece stock.  The Canadians replace it with the Ross, whcih was to arm chair theorists a much beeter rifle, faster straight pull action adn tighter specs making it more accurate.  It was a disaster in the trenches during WWI.  All the "faults" of the SMLE made it a fine military rifle and it was faster to shoot.  I suspect that the longrifle may have been less than satisfactory in the wars for similar reasons.  The development of the Baker and our own Harpers Ferry tends to bear this out as they were shorter barreled and more durable as well as using heavier locks.  The long barrels, finer features that made long rifles more accurate may have worked against them. 

DP

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2009, 09:36:49 PM »
Back in the mid 1980's, Springfield Sporters of Penn Run, PA had a huge inventory of original Baker rifles for a while.  I had stopped in to buy Garand parts, but I quickly got that done to examine at least three dozen of them and there were many more than that floor gun racks as well as hanging all over the walls.  I was very limited as to time or I would have spent the rest of the day examining them.  The prices were downright cheap for original rifles, but I just couldn't afford to buy one at the time.  I wasn't used to using credit cards back then or I would have snapped one up.

None of the rifles I inspected had the belted ball rifling.  Wished there was at least one because I really wanted to see one.   Prior to actually handling so many originals, I thought the bayonet lug would make the rifles somewhat ungainly.  It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  I really liked the way the trigger guards felt, though I also wasn't sure how those would feel ahead of time.

A few years later I had a chance to examine another original with the original sword bayonet in place.  Very ungainly for bayonet fighting, but it was better than having no bayonet at all.  (I can say that as I've studied bayonet drill for the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and done all of them a good deal.)  I think I've read the British troops carrying the Baker used those bayonets more as swords and slung the rifles behind their backs in close action. 

What I've always found intriguing is that the British went with a rifle that wound up as a .653 caliber (AKA 66 caliber, the common smoothbore carbine caliber long before the Baker came out) and we Americans kept a .54 caliber rifle for many years until the Model 1855 rifle musket.  Now the British had DOWNSIZED it from the original rifled .75 caliber and those must have been monsters to shoot.  Grin. 

I would have thought after the Lewis and Clark expedition where they had so many problems shooting grizzly bears, that they might have upsized the American rifles.  Probably wasn't seen as happening often enough to go to a larger caliber, though.

I've read most of the Sharp's Rifles books and loved the BBC series on them.  Also have a copy of "Rifleman Dodd" by C.S. Forester.  The last book was actually on The Marine Corps Professional Reading List and I picked up my copy at a PX somewhere years ago.

Northmn,
Do you or anyone else have any loading data for the Baker and especially the service powder charge?  I've never had a chance to shoot a Baker and I have often wondered what the original powder charge may have been like and how much recoil the rifle would have given.

Funny thing is that I have shot a few rounds from original Flintlock and Percussion Hall rifles owned by my best friend.  I am going to be there if he ever decides to shoot his original Civilian Model Flintlock Hall. 

I look forward to more discussion, but have to get some other work done now.

Gus

Daryl

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2009, 02:05:01 AM »
Seems to me the service charge for the Baker was 60gr. of whatever powder they issued back then, to the military (probably musket powder but you never know).  Recoil would be low, of course, considering it shot a ball of around 300gr weight.

northmn

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2009, 05:26:05 AM »
In Bailey's book on Brtitish firearms the Baker was made in the 70 "musket" caliber and the "carbine caliber of 62 (it took a .62 or 625 ball.  when I looked up the info on it, it was claimed to use a patched ball.  Not many were made in the musket caliber.  It served the British as a special arm until the Enfield replaced it, something like 40 years.    The Hessian rifle was another military rifle that the Baker was essentially patterend after.  Bailey claimed tht he felt there was not likely any influence in the Baker from the American experience  due to its adoption 20 years later.  As far as I could tell there was little if any mention of the Harpers Ferry being used in serious conflict.  The Baker saw the Napoleaon wars.  As far as great shots go, an Englishman named Plucket is claimed to have picked off a French officer and his aide at 800 yards.  While I find Hangar's story about the rifleman hitting the horse at 400 yards credible, this one kind of stretches my credibility.  My feeling is that the longrifle may have had features making it too temperamental for solid military use.  Most admit that our repos work best with priming powder for instance, wooden ramrods, whatever.  All mentions of any rifles use claim that slow reloading was its draw back.

DP

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2009, 06:03:37 AM »
Hi Guys,
Gus, I don't believe the Baker fired a belted ball.  I believe that was the British Brunswick rifle designed by George Lovell that replaced the Baker.  Getting back to your original question Northmn, as is always the case you have to evaluate the weapon within the context of how it was intended to be used.  The American rifle had its drawbacks but it definitely caught the attention of the British because they kept losing officers.  They thought about it sufficiently to design 2 rifles to combat colonial riflemen, the Grice built rifle and the Ferguson.  They also thought it prudent to hire German hunters and riflemen to act as light infantry.   Certainly, you could not mass fire with rifles, they were too slow to load, but you could snipe with good effect.  The two functions, volley fire and sniping, were complementary and the American rifle did its job pretty well despite the fact they were largely built as civilian arms.

dave
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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2009, 06:40:47 AM »
Daryl,

Thanks for the info on the service load.  Yes, that would not have been too bad at all.

Dave,

Yes, the Brunswick had a belted ball and rifling.

I knew I had read about a Baker belted ball somewhere and I think it was from either this book or an article citing this book.  Perhaps the author misidentified it as a Baker Ball rather than correctly as a Brunswick Ball?  Thanks for adding that.

http://books.google.com/books?id=hLBTkNZ8U44C&pg=PA164&lpg=PA164&dq=belted+ball,+baker+rifle&source=bl&ots=byvBhzEXpq&sig=RgkRD-2OjfM6HnJNWmVIH3YTSb8&hl=en&ei=wHHFStHDBtGX8Abn-4hH&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2009, 07:06:34 AM »
Northman,

OK, I pulled out Bailey's Book and it reads on pages 69 and 70,

"were made in both musket and carbine bore sizes (carbine bore here taken to mean 0.625 inch or 20 bore while musket bore, with regard to the Baker rifle means .070 calibre). "

Isn't Doctor Bailey talking about the size of the ball used rather than the bore?   Here's why I ask:

"The standard infantry calibre of .75 (to simplify logistics) was accepted, as was a 32in barrel but design changes led to the barrel being shortened to 30in and the barrel diameter reduced to .653 to enable it to use cavalry carbine shot of .625 calibre and to bring the rifle's weight down to roughly the same as a 'Brown Bess'. Rifling consisted of firstly eight (for the .75 calibre rifle) and then seven (for the .625 calibre rifle)"

http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_baker_rifle.html

 


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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2009, 07:19:37 AM »
Thought some folks might like seeing pictures of the American contract rifles just before and the 1803 together:

http://lewis-clark.org/content/content-article.asp?ArticleID=2356

If you go to this link and scroll down to page 5, there's an interesting rifle shown as a somewhat early attempt to make shorter military rifles.  Now I'm assuming they have it identified correctly as a "KENTUCKY TYPE CONTRACT RIFLE CIRCA 1795."

http://www.friends.usafalibrary.com/newsletters/Clark_firearms.pdf


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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2009, 09:35:07 AM »
Talk about coincidence,  they just ran a re-run of History Detectives on the Military History channel about Wellington at Waterloo.  They had a British man shooting an original Baker rifle offhand at 300 yards and he easily made a killing shot on the man sized silhouette target.   They didn't say what the maximum range for the Baker was, but that was fairly impressive.

« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 09:36:14 AM by Artificer »

Offline smart dog

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2009, 05:38:13 PM »
Hi Northmn,
I think most military historians who looked into Tom Plunkett's shots at the French believe the range was likely 200-400 yards based on descriptions of event.  The French may have been 600-800m from the British line but Plunkett ran forward to shoot at the French.  Regardless, it was remarkable shooting particularly because he repeated the feat by killing another French soldier coming to the aid of the General he shot.

dave 
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Offline Darkhorse

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2009, 05:39:59 PM »
Read something like this somewhere: The American longrifle was at it's best when fired from ambush or from behind fixed defenses and there are documented cases of kill shots made at extreme range. Resulting in a real fear of these rifles and riflemen by the British.
However in the pitched battles of the era where lines of infantry simply stood and shot at each other in volleys the Longrifle quickly lost it's edge. It took longer to load and cleaning became a factor also. So the longrifle was replaced by the musket prior to wars end as an infantry weapon.
Also the British developed a technique to deal with the longrifle in battle. They would wait until the LR's had fired then charge them  with the bayonet. Unless the Riflemen were protected by musket wielding infantry the results were catastrophic.

I might have read this in Peter Alexander's book "The Gunsmith of Grenville County" but I'm not sure cause I read so many books.
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northmn

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2009, 06:00:21 PM »
The riflemen firing patched round ball were basically used the same. Personally I feel one of the reasons the British may have finally developed a rifle core was to cancel out rifles used by their enemies.  As military minds seem to be very conservative,  the American experience may have gotten their attention, but it also may have taken Europeon experiences along that line.  The American's had to learn how to use rifles in combat.  It is amusing that the British used them against Napoleon much the same way Morgan did against them.  I imagine they had to feel they thought of it first.   While rifles can be rapidly loaded, they will start to lose their advantages if done so.  Also I get the impression that we tend to think that the flintlocks were about 100% reliable. They had to have had to deal with a few misfires. There were even cases in the civil war where percussion muskets were found with 4-5 loads in them. The soldier in his excitement would pull the trigger and not realize he had a misfire and reload.  My experience with longrifles vs fowlers and muskets is that they are more "touchy" as to ignition.  As to the effective range of a 62 caliber round ball, the rifleman on the History channel was shooting on a very still day.  Even at its 325 plus grain weight it still loses velocity very rapidly. 

DP

Offline TPH

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2009, 08:28:34 PM »
Back in the mid 1980's, Springfield Sporters of Penn Run, PA had a huge inventory of original Baker rifles for a while.  I had stopped in to buy Garand parts, but I quickly got that done to examine at least three dozen of them and there were many more than that floor gun racks as well as hanging all over the walls.  I was very limited as to time or I would have spent the rest of the day examining them.  The prices were downright cheap for original rifles, but I just couldn't afford to buy one at the time.  I wasn't used to using credit cards back then or I would have snapped one up.

None of the rifles I inspected had the belted ball rifling.  Wished there was at least one because I really wanted to see one.   Prior to actually handling so many originals, I thought the bayonet lug would make the rifles somewhat ungainly.  It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  I really liked the way the trigger guards felt, though I also wasn't sure how those would feel ahead of time.

................................................................................................

Gus

The guns in the hands of Springfield Sporters were copies of the British Brunswick made in India during the 1850s for the Indian Army under British rule. None were rifled. Though some parts (locks and some barrels) were British made, they were a different pattern, not exactly following the British guns. All were assembled to the Indian pattern in India and had been imported by Navy Arms in the 1970s. Navy did not have too much luck selling them and sold them to other companies where they eventually sold and disappeared, haven't seen one in years, I guess SS was one of those buyers or maybe the only one. They were well made and durable guns. I had two and found them fascinating and good shooting guns as smoothbores. They took .62 caliber balls.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 08:30:26 PM by TPH »
T.P. Hern

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2009, 11:02:20 PM »
Well, I can't speak for every Baker rifle I saw at Springfield Sporters back then, but everyone of the three dozen or so I looked at were rifled.  I can say that as I was looking for unusual rifling.  

Yes, the rifleman shooting the Baker on the History Channel was doing it on a day the wind wasn't blowing much.  Still, it was a pretty good shot.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 11:08:58 PM by Artificer »

Offline TPH

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2009, 11:44:54 PM »
Interesting. Do you recall any markings? One of mine was marked "Lacey and Co." over "London" on the lock and had the Gunmakers Proof (entwined G and P) on the barrel, some say they were set up by London makers for the East India Company but I never saw any with the lion marking of the EIC. Maybe I am wrong when I say none were rifled, some may have been, but the ones I looked at (and there were quite a few) were smooth bored. Sorry I missed those at SS. Navy was selling them at $75 each in the late '70s. Oh, I misspoke when I said "Brunswick" pattern, they were Baker pattern and had the scroll triggerguard - memory is a funny thing.
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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2009, 12:52:27 AM »
Couldn't agree more with Northmn that military arms have to be more robust and able to take more punishment while needing less maintenance, than most civilian arms.  That doesn't mean civilian arms can not or were not used effectively in combat, whether 18th century or later, it just means they are usually going to break down faster than rifles designed for military service.

I hope no one takes this to mean I think 18th century civilian rifles were in some way "weak."  Those who settled beyond the mountains or Long Hunters had to have a rifle that kept on working as it could be a long time before they saw a gunsmith.  Side note:  I've often wondered if at least some of them had gunsmiths fit a replacement set of springs and maybe a sear and kept it with them in case their rifles broke down?  I wouldn't want to go out on a "long hunt" without some spare parts, but maybe that's because I've spent so many years fixing guns.  

However, civilian rifles are never fired as many rounds/as often in civilian use as rifles or muskets are fired in military combat use.  It was quite possible to probable that American Longrifles were fired more in two or three campaign seasons than they would have been fired in 10, 20 or maybe even 30 years of civilian use.  That means more wear to the locks especially and more break downs.  Whether due to style, individual taste, etc. reinforced cocks were not commonly found on civilian arms nearly as soon as on military arms.  Other military lock parts and springs were usually more robust to stand up to more use.  I'll grant you there isn't a huge difference in the size of military vs civilian lock parts in rifles, though.

I really don't have a lot of good evidence on how much weaker civilian stocks were at the wrist than military arms and if there was a noteable difference in actual use in the mid to late 18th century through the early part of the 19th century.  Because most American riflemen in the Rev War did not have bayonets, we know they sometimes had to resort to using "clubbed rifles" and that can break a stock wrist pretty quick.  This doesn't mean a stock wrist is weak, though, because the wrist of a civilian stock was never meant to withstand that kind of force.  A Brown Bess or Charleville musket wrist was not that much thicker or more robust and with the heavier buttstocks, they may have broken as often when using clubbled muskets.

Zebulon Pike's 18 enlisted men broke five rifles on the march and bursted three other rifles (I assume they meant burst barrels) during their expedition 1806-07 and the Author of Guns on the Early Frontiers" believes those were M1803 rifles.  What I don't know is what part/s of the rifles they broke.   The Lewis and Clark expedition also broke rifles and they carried spare parts and fixed them.  

http://books.google.com/books?id=BJRJZZIxrmkC&pg=PA180&lpg=PA182&ots=XsjJr-A7jQ&dq=harper%27s+ferry+model+1803+rifle&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html

There has been much discussion/debate recently on whether Lewis and Clark actually took M1803 rifles with them and some of the information on which rifles were actually carried was not available to the author when he wrote that book.  I'm guessing the Zebulon Pike expedition did carry M1803's though, because production was going on in time for them to have been issued those rifles.

The underrib on the M1803 was at first seen to have been stronger than a full stock and seems to have been "the trend setter" for civilian rifles later on out west.  Arguably a noteable example of the conservative military minds doing something "fairly new and improved" in a big way before civilian arms.  They did away with the underrib on the M1814 and M1817 rifles though and it was not seen again on most U.S. Military Rifles in the ML era through the M1903.  Was this mostly because they envisaged usage of the M1814 with a bayonet and we know they intended the M1817 to be used with a bayonet similar to the M1816 musket, though it seems few bayonets were used or even issued for the M1817?  Was the underrib just too "new fangled" for many minds?  I admit I don't know.

  

Offline Artificer

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2009, 01:06:42 AM »
Interesting. Do you recall any markings? One of mine was marked "Lacey and Co." over "London" on the lock and had the Gunmakers Proof (entwined G and P) on the barrel, some say they were set up by London makers for the East India Company but I never saw any with the lion marking of the EIC. Maybe I am wrong when I say none were rifled, some may have been, but the ones I looked at (and there were quite a few) were smooth bored. Sorry I missed those at SS. Navy was selling them at $75 each in the late '70s. Oh, I misspoke when I said "Brunswick" pattern, they were Baker pattern and had the scroll triggerguard - memory is a funny thing.

I wish I noted and remembered more about the markings on those rifles SS had.  Honestly, I don't remember enough about the markings to say what they were with certainty.  Even though I was not sure how much I could have used a rifle with that large of a bore size then, I was very disappointed I couldn't afford one of the rifles.  Memory is a funny thing, especially when you don't tell your subconcious mind something is important to remember.  I "put it out of mind" to a large extent because then I wouldn't be as disappointed.

I've had the very good fortune to have been shown so many remarkable firearms from so many private and "back room" areas from museums.  They sort have been mixed a bit together over the years.  One time I viewed and handled one of the muskets and bayonets that General Rochambeau  brought over during the Rev War and in that same collection there were 6 original Whitworth Target Rifles.  TWO of them were in the case with all their accessories and one was in mint condition.  I saw so many neat things in such a short time, I was in a bit of a state of overload.  I coulldn't begin to tell you the minor details.   That's also what happened when I saw the Baker rifles at SS, though to a somewhat lesser degree.   Grin.

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2009, 12:13:55 PM »
My personal all time favorite U.S. Martial Flintlock Rifle is the M1817 Common Rifle.  This is one rifle that never seems to have gotten its due because it was not used either very widely in the military and because it was only used during a fairly "unknown" war - the Seminole War.  The U.S. Army's Rifle Regiments were brought back down to one regiment at the close of the war of 1812 and the M1817 barely got going when they disbanded the Rifle Regiment in 1818.   By a margin of about 3 to 1 they were issued and used by Militia Troops.   Many were converted to percussion just prior and during the early stages of the "Un-Civil War."  The problem for them then, like the Mississippi rifle, was that there was no minie' balls for them.  Still, it's hard to imagine a military rifle that was so "up to date" when it was originally made.

The barrel was long enough to do some good in .54 caliber, the lock was extremely well designed,  and the rifle fits my arms even though it's been described I have "Orangutan" arms.  Grin.  (Most original firearms are way too short for me.)  It seems they did make paper cartridges for this rifle in addition to using separate powder, patch and ball.  I found two references for that, but don't know how widespread was the use of paper cartridges.

In the early 80's, I saw an extremely nice repro they had on display at the Harper's Ferry NHS.  Then I got my hands on one that someone had begun to reconvert to flint, but had never finished and some major parts were not there. 

When the Marine Corps sent me through the Smith and Wesson revolver course in 1984, I went to the Springfield Armory NHS.  After asking some questions about what looked like a British percussion "India" rifle and having been told it was an "Engine of Destruction" by the curator on duty, I asked him if they had an M1817 on hand because there wasn't one on display.   I explained I wanted to look at a complete rifle for some details that might help me get my "bag of parts" M1817 back together.  Then he said, "You know we didn't make any of them here?"  I told him I knew they were all made by contractors.  He asked me who made mine and after I told him mine was a Johnson, he brought down a truly excellent original Johnson.   Wow............  Unfortunately, I didn't know about The Rifle Shoppe or they weren't making parts for them then. 

A couple of guys on the International Team had good original ones that shot well, but in the type competition they qualified for, the M1817 wasn't the best choice. 

I have found references where the at least some of those in power in the higher echelons of power complained about how spoiled (my paraphrasing) some of the members of the U.S. Rifle Corps were.  They had made the mistake of asking for "set" triggers and even finer sights.  Reading between the lines, I don't believe they were asking for those things for every rifle (though they might have been) but rather for use by particularly competent marksmen who would have been used as we use snipers today. 
 

northmn

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2009, 01:16:14 PM »
A very common repair seen on original rifles is the brass wrapped around the wrist for repair.  One of my Repos also broke through the wrist.  I question how strong the swamped barrel was as the waist was rather thin.  Some today talk about getting bent ones.  If one looks at the locks on longrifles in the times, they were either German styled or in the south English styled.  Rifle locks were essentially smaller musket locks.  No real bells or whistles over a musket lock, just smaller proportions.  Smaller locks are not quite as reliable as bigger ones.  Back then a musket lock had a bigger spring driving a bigger rock against a bigger frizzen throwing sparks into a bigger pan which caused a bigger flash into a bigger touchhole. While I can get my flintlocks to be very reliable for the first shot, some hurry up reloading gets more unreliable.  I like to stick a pick through the frizzen when I reload and make sure the flint is sharp and in place and even wipe the pan.  Takes a bit of time.  "Re steeling" a lock was a common repair in those times as frizzens were case hardened.  Steel in the Revolution was not nearly as good as at the turn of the century.  I get flashes in the pan and I doubt that they were immune.  They did not have Chambers White Lightening vent liners.  The military rifles that developed had shorter more durable barrels and heavier locks.  I will also add that the reinforced cock as seen on the Harper's Ferry was also getting very common in English military arms.  I suspect that dropping the rib was an economy measure as a rifle can be easily be built without one, especially with a steel ramrod which later rifles also used.

DP

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2009, 05:58:12 PM »
The riflemen firing patched round ball were basically used the same. Personally I feel one of the reasons the British may have finally developed a rifle core was to cancel out rifles used by their enemies.  As military minds seem to be very conservative,  the American experience may have gotten their attention, but it also may have taken Europeon experiences along that line.  The American's had to learn how to use rifles in combat.  It is amusing that the British used them against Napoleon much the same way Morgan did against them.  I imagine they had to feel they thought of it first.   While rifles can be rapidly loaded, they will start to lose their advantages if done so.  Also I get the impression that we tend to think that the flintlocks were about 100% reliable. They had to have had to deal with a few misfires. There were even cases in the civil war where percussion muskets were found with 4-5 loads in them. The soldier in his excitement would pull the trigger and not realize he had a misfire and reload.  My experience with longrifles vs fowlers and muskets is that they are more "touchy" as to ignition.  As to the effective range of a 62 caliber round ball, the rifleman on the History channel was shooting on a very still day.  Even at its 325 plus grain weight it still loses velocity very rapidly. 

DP


A friend of mine took my 16 bore and when told where to hold shot one shot off hand and got a hit on a steel silhouette at 300. It was not particularly still as Cody never is.

Most people who make pronouncements about shooting rbs at 300 yards have never tried it. A 50 caliber will produce a fatal wound on a human at 300 based on limited research.
500 yards is far more difficult but doable and 1000 is impossible at least with 54 calibers. The friend who tried 500 and 1000 could not get the ball to the target at 1000 with his 54.


Dan
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northmn

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2009, 06:30:06 PM »
I did not mean to imply that 300 yards is not achievable, but with a round ball it is tougher.  Some deer hunters I knew could not hit a human sized target with a scoped modern rifle even when rested.  I knew one that I could outshoot at a 100 yards with my 4" 357.  I was not that great, he was that abysmal.  At one match I attended at 100 yards you had to aim about 18" off the bull to hit it at 100 yards.  That was with my 58.  A bigger bore like your 16 is less affected but will still get blown off course in a gale like that was.  The 62 Baker is also more forgiving.  I have shot at long range gongs and can appreciate the challenge.  Good riflemen assume that anyone can learn it, much like good artists feel that anyone can learn to engrave.  How many shooters today are chosen as snipers?  How large a percentage of soldiers back then could shoot a rifle accurately enough to take full advantage of them?  Darned if I know, but if you took the top 20% you would still see quite a difference in abilities.  When I used to shoot competition I did not have to best 60 shooters, only about the same 4 or 5.  Actually one of my points about military rifles when they were developed, they tended to be a larger bore also.  The British were a little fussy about who got to be in the rifle corps.


DP

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2009, 06:40:38 PM »
Seems to me the service charge for the Baker was 60gr. of whatever powder they issued back then, to the military (probably musket powder but you never know).  Recoil would be low, of course, considering it shot a ball of around 300gr weight.

According to Bailey the Baker used 3 1/2 to 4 drams, 96-110 gr, depending on the time frame. In 1803 the powder was "FG" meaning "fine glazed".  The balls were true 20 or 22 to the pound depending on the use the ammo was put to. If a high rate of fire was needed they used the smaller balls and they were generally in paper cartridges. This apparently gave reasonable military accuracy for rapid fire at 100 yards, ie for shooting at masses of troops.
With the power charge listed it would have been a pretty effective weapon.
They used Fustian and Ticking and probably other materials for patching. I just skimmed the book for some info.

Dan
He who dares not offend cannot be honest. Thomas Paine

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2009, 06:46:13 PM »
One site on the web also talked about how they found very thin original pre-cut leather "patches" in some Bakers as well.

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2009, 07:06:20 PM »
Northmn,

I agree the quality of the individual rifleman is something that is often overlooked, especially with military riflemen.

During the Revolution, we had probably a large portion of "the best of the best" marksmen because there are many sources where they picked the best marksmen for the Rifle Units.  Still as you pointed out, the numbers of them rarely exceeded 500. 

Further, the military of the day did not have anything close to the modern system of teaching all recruits basic marksmanship, let alone advanced marksmanship.  This continued to be a large problem through and after the Civil War when everyone was issued a rifle.  With the near constant shortages of powder and lead during the Revolution, if the rifle armed troops were not already excellent shots, they didn't have the spare ammo to teach people how to shoot better.

I know this is straying from muzzleloading, but it reinforces the points made about the shooting capability of large masses of troops and the "practical accuracy" in combat.  During WWII and even with the excellent Garand rifle, the Army found that most rifle casualties were from an average of right at 100 yards.  This in part due to the fact that in the Pacific, you often couldn't get shots much more distant because of terrain reasons.  If they left out the Pacific campaigns, though, the average distance would not exceed 125 to 150 yards at most, though. 

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Re: Longrifles as military arms.
« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2009, 07:19:29 PM »
I don't see how replacing an underrib on the M1803 rifle with a forestock and barrel bands on the M1814 and M1817 was a "cost cutting method."  Forging and brazing an underrib had to be cheaper than forging bands, filing and fitting them, making and installing the band springs, etc. etc.  Maybe I'm wrong, but it would seem the underribs were cheaper to make and put on the barrels. 

The British were just as good at mounting underribs (if not better) and by their more advanced system of "jobbing out" parts of firearms, they more easily could have added underribs and yet they didn't do it on the Baker or Brunswick.