Musket Loading

April 17th, 2006  
Fix bayonets

Topic: Musket Loading

I have two questions about how to load a flintlock muscket, first of all how did you actually load a flintlock musket, by all methods but initially the British military method?

The second question is I know the cartridge held held poder and a ball, and the powder was used first, where was the musket ball held when the cartridge was opened?
April 18th, 2006  
The ball was left in the cartridge paper which helped to form a gas seal when the gun was fired. This meant there was less loss of gas from around the edges of the ball so it should have travelled further and faster
April 18th, 2006  
In the days of powder horns or brass powder flasks, the balls and patches were carried in a side pouch. The charge was poured into a measuring cup, then down the barrel. A ball was wrapped in a piece of cloth, or patch, and rammed down onto the powder with the ramrod. The hammer was pulled into "cocked" position and a small amount of powder was shaken out into the frizzen, it was closed and the thing was ready to fire. Some muskets even had a hole bored into the bottom of the stock and packed with bees wax or grease for the patches. You can see how the paper cartridge was such a vast improvement.
March 2nd, 2007  
The Flintlock musket was probably one of the most sucessful muskets ever made. It was used up to the civil war when it was replaced by the percussion cap, and later metal cartriges. Back then muskets were not very accurate so they played a role in battle similar to arrows. Armies would stand in rank and file with the cavalry on the flanks. They would fire volleys at the enemy. The idea was that some of the bullets would hit, soften up and demoralize the enemy. If they didnt retreat under the barrage then the armies charged each other with bayonets after several rounds. They fought until one side lost the will to fight. Therefore if one part of the line falls, everyone retreats. An orginized withdrawl was better than a full-blown retreat becouse when everyone is running in disarray it is easier for the cavalry to come in and kill everyone. Its hard to imagine the fear that struck the soldiers in battle but it was very real. During the civil war rifles were used becouse of a new invention called the mini-ball. It was small and easy to load but expanded when the gun fired and gripped the grooves.
April 2nd, 2007  

Topic: Loading the Flintlock Musket


I have several military flintlock muskets and shoot them regularly. The loading process is as follows:

- Half **** the peice
- Open pan (push frizzen forward to open flash pan)
- Handle cartridge (grasp paper cartridge and with bullet end down, bite or tear paper to expose powder. Obviously one tears the cartridge end opposit the ball.
- Shake a small amount of powder into flash pan (to prime piece).
- Close pan cover.
- Cast musket about (place musket butt on the ground with muzzle up).
- Charge cartridge (dump remaining powder charge into the barrel of the piece). Press ball into barrel followed by paper from cartridge.
- Withdraw rammer (remove ramrod from the pipes beneath the barrel).
- Ram down cartridge (smartly--but carefully-ram cartrige into barrel).
- Return rammer (replace ramrod into pipes beneath the barrel).
Full **** piece--persent--fire.

I have a Baker Rifle as well as a Tower Musket (Short Land Pattern--aka "Brown Bess") that I shoot all the time. the instructions above are for the Brown Bess. Loading a FlInt Rifle is a bit more time consuming and complex.

The basic information is documented in:

Wilber, C. (1993). The Revolutionary Soldier 1775-1783. The Globe Press, Old Saybrook, CT.