By: Friedrich Seiltgen
On July Fourth, we commemorate the United States’ liberation from England. And of course, our independence would not have been possible without firearms, an essential element of our nation’s history since day one – literally.
Here we pay tribute to the Colonial “assault weapons” that freed us from the tyrannical rule of King George III:
The Brown Bess
The Brown Bess, or “British Land Pattern Musket,” was one of the most commonly used weapons of the American War of Independence. This .75 caliber smoothbore flintlock rifle weighed-in at around 10.5 pounds and fired a musket ball to a range of 100 yards. It was the workhorse of the Revolution for both sides. This British musket was common in the colonies prior to the war, as the Colonials were ordered by the Crown to have weapons for their own self-defense – an order the British government would likely come to regret.
The Kentucky Rifle
The Kentucky Rifle, or American Long Rifle, was a muzzleloader that, despite being accurate, played only a small role in the war compared to the musket. Militiamen and snipers effectively used this rifle to around 200 yards. It was more time-consuming to reload, making its rate of fire low. The Revolutionary War was about volume, and a good soldier with a musket could generally get off three to four shots a minute before the battle turned to a bayonet charge. The Kentucky Rifle was, despite its wartime shortcomings, beloved by the Colonials.
The Charleville Musket
The Charleville Musket was the primary long gun of the French army and was also used in great number by the continental army, who procured almost 50,000 of these .69 caliber smoothbore rifles. These guns were produced in great quantity in Charleville, France, and as was the case with most smoothbores, they were not the most accurate weapon.
Ferguson Breech Loading Flintlock Rifle
One of the major advancements in weapon technology during this time was the Ferguson Breech Loading Flintlock Rifle. Because it enabled British soldiers to load their rifles from the breech instead of the muzzle, the rate of fire doubled to seven to eight shots per minute. Soldiers could reload while lying down – under cover – rather than constantly having to reload from the muzzle end while standing up.
The British were well-equipped, but Colonials had to make-do with what they could get their hands on. Local governments created Committees of Safety, Correspondence, and Inspection during the Revolution. Those loyal to the king and dissenters of the committees were silenced by “Civil Excommunication.” These committees were a sort of “shadow government” that paid for weapons made for the Patriots by local gunsmiths.
These weapons varied in type and caliber and were usually marked simply “U.S.”
Patriots had to rely on weapons of all kinds, whether it be a gun, sword, knife, tomahawk, hatchet, or bayonet, the latter being arguably the most crucial weapon of the Revolution. Many early battles were lost by the Colonials when the musket volleys stopped and the bayonet charges began. British soldiers were issued bayonets, but Colonials suffered due to a shortage of bayonets early on in the war.
Since the armies of both sides of the Revolution were only effective about 20 percent of the time with their guns, bayonets were quite effective both physically and psychologically. Bayonets were typically not very sharp, so soldiers would have to thrust their blunt pieces of steel forcefully into their enemies. The wound was more tearing than cutting, and victims would often bleed to death from the puncture. Bayonet wounds were also very susceptible to infection. Psychologically, the bayonet was a very powerful weapon. No one wanted to endure the pain of a blunt piece of steel tearing their flesh, and soldiers usually did not relish the idea of inflicting such suffering onto their fellow human beings.
As you celebrate this Independence Day, consider what the Colonial Patriots died for, and what you can do as a modern-day Patriot to preserve our Second Amendment rights and future Independence Days. Your life and freedom depend upon it.
Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He currently conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism, Firearms, and Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations in Florida. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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