Muskets

(Continued jrorn page 26)

since they would not have been so during the 18th Century. Then as now, they would be emptied for militia drill or for use of the citizen guardsmen who were on duty. Or some of them might be out for cleaning, oiling, or repair. And so it is today, for these arms are used for special firings by the militia.

Lining the wall are "Brown Bess" flintlock muskets. There are different barrel lengths: 46", 40" and 39" models, the latter used late in the century. These are muskets inspected at the Tower of London, with "Tower" marked on the locks. Most bear the name of the regiment to which they belonged, the "Westmoreland Regiment." Also on the barrels are inspection and proof marks.

Such muskets were standard for British infantry all during the 18th Century and well into the nineteenth but the United States Army after the Revolution adopted the French pattern arm and sold or junked the British muskets.

The racks also contain trade muskets, with long stocks and barrels, resembling the Pennsylvania rifles. They are smooth bores, lacking the range and accuracy of the frontiersman's arm.

In one rack there are a number of carbines for use of the dragoons. These short flintlock muskets could be handled with great effect by the cavalry.

The infantry officers carried a lighter version of the Brown Bess. These fusils, as they are called, were even on occasion used by the "big brass"; Washington himself used one. And fusils may still be seen in the Williamsburg arsenal, though generally they are becoming rare in this country.

Among the miscellany of Williamsburg weapons are brass barrelled blunderbusses, used for riots and close defense. Sometimes they were made with a swivel so that they could be mounted behind a parapet and swung about to defend a fixed position. At close range they were devastating to the attacker.

The 18th Century navies also used these swivel-mounted guns to repel invaders. In contrast to them the Magazine contains one long range garrison gun. over seven feet in length. Ordinarily these would be used defensively in a fort where they could be rested over the parapet, though sometimes in the field a long pronged spike affair might be thrust into the ground and the gun rested for steady shooting.

On another side wall of the Magazine are the racks containing flintlock horse pistols for mounted soldiers, both light and heavy. These weapons had tremendous shocking power and were usually fired once at close range by the charging horsemen after which the heavy, brass studded butt was held clublike by the barrel.

"George III horse pistols" are of two types for light cavalry and heavy cavalry. Like the other guns in the Williamsburg arsenal, these pistols are in serviceable condition. Some are used in the Christmas firing display by craftsmen and guardsmen in Colonial costume, to usher in the festive season. This firing is a rare event and always attracts great crowds of visitors, most of them armed with cameras.

With the number of artillery pieces at Williamsburg are exhibited the gunner's implements for firing them. Artillery equipment of the period is used each morning at nine o'clock when the cannon is fired to herald the new exhibition day. A wooden rammer shoves the flannel bag cartridge down the muzzle and seats it firmly. The linstock, a pole-like device, holds the rope-like, slow burning fuse, placed on the touchhole at the order to fire. The implements for preparing the cannon for the second firings are also here; the worm for removing a missfire or taking out the cake of residue at the breech which may clog the vent; the sponge of cloth or sheepskin which swabs inside the length of the bore as a further precaution. Most interesting is the "searcher," a lengthy tool which "searches" the inside of the gun to discern whether dangerous cracks have appeared which would make the shooting unsafe. These and other interesting implements of the artilleryman stand ready for use just as they did in a bygone era. Firing ordnance took many motions; inserting the powder cartridge, then the cannonball to be rammed tightly home. At times well trained artillery spelled the difference between success and failure. And at close range when grape or small shot could be literally hurled into the teeth of advancing infantry the effect could be frightening. Some of the best trained units fired at a rate much quicker than the five or six shots an hour sometimes attributed to them. The French, who had no superiors as artillerists, used a particularly effective method of fire against Lord Corn-wallis' fortifications at the siege of Yorktown in 1781. They ricocheted their shot into the works of the enemy and generally outshot their American comrades, much to the chagrin of the latter!

The Williamsburg Powder Magazine contains not only the actual arms and ammunition, but also the accoutrements needed in the field. Vast numbers of leather cartouche or cartridge boxes may be seen, as well as powder horns, shot pouches and some powder testers. Those were important to soldiers who used the variable powders of the period. Knapsacks, canteens of tin (for the British) and of cedar wood (for the Continentals), tents, tent pegs, rope, drums, leather horse pistol holsters; wooden storage barrels and hogsheads, line the room and add atmosphere and meaning to the display, for this is a living exhibition and not merely a musty museum.

The drums, of course, were most important because the orders of the officers to their men were usually given by the drums. Each soldier knew each roll or tattoo just as later soldiers responded to the bugle call.

The halbards and spontoons—long, spearlike devices reminiscent of the medieval (Continued on page 60)

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