Sunday, June 26, 2011

Muskets in action

Infantry soldiers were armed with a musket and a bayonet. The musket was muzzle loading with a flintlock mechanism at the butt end of the barrel. The soldier's normal ammunition load was 24 cartridges. Each cartridge contained a single load of gunpowder and a spherical lead ball. When loading, the soldier ripped open the paper cartridge with his teeth and poured a small quantity of powder into the firing pan. He poured the remainder of the charge into the muzzle of the musket, followed by the cartridge paper as a wad, and poked the charge to the bottom of the barrel with the ramrod.

The soldier then put the musket ball into the barrel so that it rolled to the bottom (or he pushed it down with the ramrod), on top of the charge of gunpowder. The soldier cocked the flintlock mechanism, aimed the weapon at the target and pulled the trigger. This caused the flint to strike, producing sparks and igniting the powder in the firing pan, which flashed through the touchhole and set off the charge. The musket discharged the ball with a flash, a considerable quantity of smoke and a roar. A well-trained soldier was able to fire his musket two or three times in a minute.

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