British Line Infantry Weapons

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> British Line Infantry Weapons

Firearms

Long Land Pattern Brown Bess musket

Introduction

This weapon was introduced into British Army service from 1718, being first made by William Wilson. The weapon was the eventual result of a contract signed in 1714, for the purpose of standardizing arms and equipment. This was to remedy the confusion caused by the presence of multiple musket models in the British army at the close of the War of Spanish Succession. The fittings were originally of iron, but brass was used since 1725. The lock was secured to the stock by two screws.

The weapon was produced in two major centres: the iron fittings and the barrels were mostly produced in Birmingham, while the brass and wooden furniture was produced in London. The parts were then assembled and inspected for quality, with a stamp of approval and year of production engraved on the lockplate and stock. The earlier lock plates were much more curved than the later models. The stock was of walnut. By 1750 the wooden ramrod was replaced by one of iron.

Besides its original version, the weapon was made in three major models; that of 1730, 1742, and 1756. Each new version of the long land pattern incorporated various improvements to the design of the musket, with the aim of simplifying production, and increasing effectiveness.

At some point before 1760, the short pattern land service musket was introduced (initially for dragoons, militia and the marines) the barrel was only 42 inches (1066 mm) long. In June 1768 this weapon was officially termed the 'Short Land Service Musket (New Pattern)'. The old, longer weapon continued in service throughout the War of American Independence and no muskets with brass nosebands were used in that conflict.

Initial version (1715-1720)

The initial version of the musket was produced following the specifications arrived at by the department of the Ordinance. Its wooden furniture was made of walnut, and fittings made of iron, later brass. The regiment's name was engraved on the lockplate, usually the name of the colonel being used, as well as the maker of the weapon. The lockplate itself was banana shaped. The initials of the maker were also engraved on the breech of the barrel. The ramrod, made of wood, was held in place by 4 iron, later brass, fittings. The butt placed was waived. The trigger guard showed Dutch influence, with lobed finials at the ends of the trigger guard.

Long Land pattern M1730

Even though the long land pattern was supposed to have been produced in large quantities beginning in 1718, production really began in 1722, and no modifications or improvements introduced till 1728. These modification were standardized in 1730, creating the long land pattern M1730 musket. The musket was characterized by the predominance of heavy brass fittings, raised brass stock fittings, and raised brass side plates. The older waived butt plate was replaced by a stepped version, 6" in length. The ramrod was still made of wood.

Long Land pattern M1742

British Long Land Pattern Brown Bess Musket M1742 - Copyright: Armae.com


When the War of Austrian Succession broke out, the army found itself short on ordinance. As a result, a new model was introduced in 1742. This model differed from the 1730 model in having a reduced raised stock carving, the addition of a bridle to a shallower flashpan, and a split read trigger guard strut. Some versions of this model and the 1730 version were also equipped with a brass nosecap to the front of the wooden furniture, but most came without. The front end of the trigger guard became a hazelnut shape, rather than the older Dutch shape.

Initial versions of this weapon had wooden ramrods, but starting in the late 1740's-1750, iron ramrods were gradually introduced. This musket was in fact the main model used in the Seven Years' War, with the 1730 model being sent over to America to arm the Provincial soldiers who didn't receive this new model.


British Long Land Pattern Brown Bess Musket M1742 - Source: Digby Smith
Technical details
Overall length 1590 mm (62.5 inches)
Length of barrel 1170 mm (46 inches)
Calibre 19 mm (0,75 inches)
Length of the flintlock plate 177 mm (7 inches)
Weight 4500 grams (without the bayonet)
Legend aaa – barrel

bbb – stock
c – muzzle
d – butt of the rammer
e – sight
f – first loop
g – loop and swivel for the slings
h – third loop
i – tail pipe
k – swell of the tail pipe
l – feather spring
m – hammer
n – trigger and guard
o – cock
p – small of the stock
q – butt
r – swell of the butt
s – point of the bayonet
t – bend of the shank
u – socket
w – notch of the socket


Long land pattern M1756

When the Seven Years War itself broke out in 1756, a new model was introduced. This model, the M1756, was the final weapon in the long land pattern series. It differed from the previous model in that it was exclusively issued with an iron ramrod, the addition of 4 inches to the length of the front pipe holding the ramrod, and modification to the brass furniture and locks. These included the replacement of the banana shape with a straight shaped lockplate, the engraving of the Royal Cypher on the plate, the addition of the crownor royal arrow mark under the flashplan, and further wooden carving.

The model also saw the establishment of fully developed beaver carvings on the stock, and a thinned version of the shape of trigger guard plate used in the 1742 model.

Even though this musket was produced in quantity during the war, the musket almost never saw service: the army commander had already agreed to continue using the M1742, until the stock wore out, in which case they could be replaced with the M1756.

All models of the musket were stamped or etched with the letters BO (board of ordnance) beneath the flashpan, and before 1764, the maker of the musket was engraved to the rear of the same plate. Makers included Gage, Grice, Edge, Galton, Jordan, Vernon, Dublin Castle, etc.

British Long Land Pattern Brown Bess Musket M1756 Lock Details - Source: Digby Smith

The lock bears the stamps crowned GR, an arrow and 'BO' (BOARD OF ORDNANCE) and the maker's name 'GRICE' and the date 1756. Other makers at this time were Edge, Galton, Jordan, Vernon and Dublin Castle. From 1764 it became the rule to engrave the lock plate with 'TOWER'.

Dutch infantry musket

While Britain produced weapons on its own, arms supply was not always consistent, particularly in the colonies. As a result, the authorities would often supplement local supply with purchases of surplus or outdated muskets from other countries. One important supplier was the Netherlands.

The Netherlands in turn, while it produced arms locally (notably in Amsterdam and Maastricht), mostly supplied itself with weapons produced outside the country. Notable sources of firearms included Liège, Solingen, Suhl and Zella. Liège in particular was the largest producer of weapons for the Netherlands and, by 1788, counted 60-80 arms workshops. The Dutch on their part used the produced weapons not only to supply the army, but also for trade in the colonies, the Native Americans, and other nation’s armies, supplying all the above since the 17th century.

As a result of the widespread trade in firearms, the caliber and size of the weapons varied, from .75 to .80 calibers, as did the size of the weapons. However, general tendencies existed:

  1. the barrels were consistently rounded, while the ramrod pipe was faceted;
  2. the furniture was brass with a heavy buttstock;
  3. a distinctive lock plate, decorated with teardrops and arrowheads, and similar decorations existed in the trigger guard (similar decorations could be found in early models of the Brown Bess)
  4. the lock in muskets prior to c. 1720 was rounded and raised, as opposed to the flat/faceted ones introduced afterwards, and in use till the 1770’s.

Muskets supplied from Dutch sources were often purchased prior to the war and were often outdated models. For example, the board of ordinance still possessed in its armory muskets shipped in from the Netherlands in 1715 to Britain, and the colonies continued to import arms directly until at least 1738. Britain also made a large purchase of muskets (18,000) in 1741, and as in the case of the 1715 shipment, that was still in storage with the board of ordinance in 1756.

Many of these weapons in turn were exported to the colonies and were used by provincial soldiers (for example, 4,500 of the muskets purchased in 1741 were sent to the British colonies of North America). As a result, remains of the musket have been found on the battlefield of the Monongahela, and a bayonet (likely from a North Carolina provincial), was found in Fort Ligonier. Old models as well as newer ones were in the shipments.

Dutch infantry musket M1700-1720

A Dutch musket of the 1700-1720 model in the collection at West Point has Dutch/English style iron components, a rampant lion proof mark on breech, its original “Dutch” stock and the mark “SO.CAROLINA” on its barrel. It is most probable that it was part of a purchase made in 1715 and kept in stores until 1754-55 when the Board of Ordinance supplied Dutch muskets to the Southern Colonies.

Dutch infantry musket M1740

Dutch Infantry Musket M1740 - Source: User:Ibrahim90


N.B.: dimensions slightly varied from musket to musket, the following dimensions should serve as an example.

Technical details
Overall length 1556 mm (61.25 inches)
Length of barrel 1165 mm (45.875 inches)
Calibre 20 mm (0,78 inches)
Length of the flintlock plate 162 mm (6.375 inches)
Length of the trigger guard 302 mm (11.875 inches)
Length of the butt tang 140 mm (5.5 inches)
Weight 3992 grams (8.8 lbs)

References

Goldstein, Erik; The Socket Bayonet in the British Army 1687-1783, p. 89, 92

Mardsen, Joseph R.; The Bayonets of Fort Ligioner, Pennsylvannia,1758-1766, p.7

Neumann, George C.' Dutch Arms in the American Revolution in American Rifleman

Neumann, George C.; The redcoat's brown bess, April 2001, American rifleman magazine, 2008

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith and User:Ibrahim90 for the initial version of the section on the Long Land Pattern Brown Bess musket

William Jack and User:Ibrahim90 for the initial version of the section on the Dutch Infantry musket