Bavarian Line Infantry Armament and Equipment

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Introduction: the Bavarian arms industry

At the end of the thirty years war, the still recently-elevated electorate of Bavaria found itself devastated, as was the case for much of Germany. A survey of the iron mills carried out in Bavaria in 1665 under the orders of the elector, found that there were just 29 mills in the electorate. This number represented a massive decline in the industry, as there were 83 forges active in Bavaria prior to the war. Additionally, the quality of the manufactured products was low. This naturally limited the potential for arms production in the electorate.

However, it was not until the late 1680s and the 1690s that steps were taken to remedy this situation. In 1691, orders were issued for the opening of a centralized arms factory, in the city of Fortschau. To ensure sufficient supplies of iron for the new factories, the electorate monopolized the iron mining industry within its boundaries. Fortschau would eventually become the main arms factory for the electorate, but other sites also acted as arms production centers--notably the towns of Fichtelberg and Kembath. Fortschau had the advantage of being the only site to produce all parts of a firearm.

Initially, oversight was initially relatively limited: funds were simply allocated to the factory, which would use them to produce firearms. However, this was quickly replaced with a more centralized system of inspections and production. However, these measures were rendered ineffective, as the budget provided in peacetime for the army was always insufficient. To illustrate this, here provided are stocks for firearms in 1715. This tellingly reveals that the majority of muskets cannot be traced to Bavarian manufacture:

weapon type number
Wall guns 700
ordinaere muskets 251
old musket barrels 194
various old flintlocks 1430
New flintlocks from Suhl 78
Flintlock Barrell 191

Confirming this was the order in 1717 for the following arms and armor from Liege:

equipment quantity
Carbines and pistols 3.000
Dragoon muskets 1.000
high-quality longarms for Horse Grenadiers 200
Pistols, Horse Grenadiers 200
Fusilier muskets with bayonets 2.000
Cuirasses 3.000
backswords 3.000
Grenadier hangers 600


This miserly attitude toward spending in peacetime arms was meant to save on costs, but it left the army short on muskets. This attitude continued well after 1715, and was severe enough that the increase in production during the War of Austrian Succession proved unable to meet demand. The army thus had to rely on imports from other parts of Germany or the Low Countries (notably Liege). This source, in turn, proved unreliable, as supplies were disrupted by Bavaria's enemies. The end result was that the Bavarian government would end up spending more than it would have, had it simply provided sufficient funds for local production in the first place. To exacerbate this, the Bavarian muskets were apparently of shoddy quality, and the carelessness in procuring weapons from abroad led to muskets with mismatched calibers and were themselves often shoddy.

In the aftermath of the War of Austrian Succession, the state found its arms industry disorganized. This disorganization was in large caused by unpreparedness and disruption during the war but was blamed on the negligence of the then inspectors at the time: the Baron v. Oelten, and Inspector Cigoni (Zigoni). The former was replaced by inspector Weinberger, whilst the latter was allowed to keep his post, though he was issued a warning. However, the fundamental issues remained, as the changes came with a production cap of 700 muskets/year. This was once again meant to save on costs, as part of the greater reduction in the size of the Bavarian army. However, this once again led to an arms shortage when war broke out in 1756: this failure is rendered the starker when one considers the concurrent failure to raise full numbers for their Reichkontingent and Auxiliary corps.

To meet the demand, production was increased and had almost doubled to 1.300 muskets/year in 1758. By 1764, production stood at 1.500 muskets/year. However, these numbers were still insufficient to keep the Bavarian Army properly equipped--particularly due to heavy losses and poor quality: by the end of the war, the army could only call on 2.000 usable muskets in all armories in Bavaria.

Firearms

infantry muskets

Bavaria largely produced and used two models of muskets, which will be individually discussed below. The main commonality was the lock design, which remained largely unchanged since 1720. The lock was based on a template from Suhl, which was obtained in 1715, and is superficially similar to French locks from before 1763. This lock remained in production in all variants until 1801 when production began for the Bavarian Infanteriegewehr M1801.

The lockplate was curved and banana-shaped. it was secured in place by two screws, which were kept in place by an s-shaped plate similar to French design. Locks produced from 1749 onward had the name of armaments factory in which they were produced etched between hammer and spring (e.g. A Fortschau). the inspector's initials were also teched behind the cock (e.g. FC, for Friedrich Cigoni).

M1722 Ordinaere Flinte

The Bavarian army entered the Seven Years War still equipped with the Ordinaere Flinte. This musket was largely identical to the Austrian Ordinaire Flinte, with both based on patterns from Suhl, and influenced by French military muskets (notably the M1717). The barrel was octagonal-to-round and secured into the stock entirely by pins. The sling was fastened below the stock via a front sling swivel near the second ramrod pipette; the rear swivel was mounted directly on the front of the trigger guard. The fittings were made of iron, and the stock itself was made of walnut, with a cow's foot stock, and flat musket swell, similar to those of the French muskets of the time. A thumb-plate was added during the reign of Maximilian III Joseph (r. 1745-1777). This had the monogram of the elector upon it.

The rammer was initially made of wood, capped in brass. These were replaced with iron ramrods starting in 1730. It appears that iron fittings were replaced with brass c. 1754.

The socket bayonet for this musket initially came with as knife-shaped bayonet, with a blade approximately 38 cm (15") in length. This would have been virtually identical to the knife-bayonet used by the Austrian Ordinaire Flinte in production prior to 1740. By 1750, fluted blades similar to those of other armies were in production alongside the older knife-bayonets. The fluted designs were the sole bayonet-type in production by 1760. The dimensions of the fluted bayonet were not dissimilar to the older model, with a 35-38 cm blade.

Technical details
Overall length 1570 mm (~61.8 inches)
Length of barrel 1190 mm (~47 inches)
Calibre 18,3 mm (0.72 calibre)
Bore diameters at breech uncertain (2,8 cm?)
Ball size 16,5mm (0.65 inches)
Length of the flintlock plate unknown
Weight 4800 grams (without the bayonet)
Trigger Pressure ~5,5 kg (~12 pounds), based on similar French locks


M1759

The Bavarian arms industry switched from securing the barrel to the stock via pins, in favor of barrel bands, in 1759. The resulting new musket was superficially similar to the M1754, though slightly shorter. Two versions were produced. The first was a brass-fitted version, which was issued to the guards and the Kurpsinz regiment. The second was iron-fitted and issued to the line regiments in general. Both variants came with three barrel bands. The rearmost band was slipped into the area behind the swell of the musket, and the middle band was halfway between the front and rear bands. To this middle band was secured a forward musket swing swivel. the rear sling swivel was attached directly on the trigger guard. The front barrel band may have come with a dedicated front sight.

The musket continued to have the thumb-plate, until 1769, when production of this part was ceased for reasons of economy.


Technical details
Overall length 1440 mm (~56.7 inches)
Length of barrel 1080 mm (~41 inches)
Calibre ~18 mm (~0.70 calibre)
Bore diameters at breech unknown
Ball size 16,5mm (0.65 inches)
Length of the flintlock plate unknown
Weight unknown (without the bayonet)
Trigger Pressure unknown


Dragoon muskets

Little is currently known of the dragoon muskets. However, it seems to have been similar to the infantry musket.

Carbines

Nothing is currently known of Bavarian Carbines. Aside from local production, this was supplemented with imports. This might have been similar to the Austrian version, as both were derived from patterns from Suhl and France.

Pistols

Nothing is currently known of Bavarian pistols.

Blades

It appears the Bavarian grenadiers were issued with grenadier hangars. These could either be locally produced or imported from elsewhere. No evidence exists for the use of swords by Bavarian musketeers during the Seven Years War.

References

Goetschmann, Dirk, Das Armaturwekr Fortschau (1689-1801), p. 77-136

Acknowledgement

Ibrahim90 and Julian for the initial version of this article