The United States Army officer and cavalry commander George Armstrong Custer was born. Custer fought in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars George Armstrong Custer (December 5, 1839 – June 25, 1876) was a United States Army... Read more ...
George Armstrong Custer was born
The United States Army officer and cavalry commander George Armstrong Custer was born. Custer fought in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars
George Armstrong Custer (December 5, 1839 – June 25, 1876) was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars. Raised in Michigan and Ohio, Custer was admitted to West Point in 1857, where he graduated last in his class in 1861. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Custer was called to serve with the Union Army.
Custer developed a strong reputation during the Civil War. He participated in the first major engagement, the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, near Washington, D.C. His association with several important officers helped his career, as did his success as a highly effective cavalry commander. Custer was promoted to captain in 1864, and was brevetted to major general in 1865. At the conclusion of the Appomattox Campaign, in which he and his troops played a decisive role, Custer was present at General Robert E. Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865.
After the Civil War, Custer remained a major general in the United States Volunteers until they were mustered out in February 1866. He reverted to his permanent rank of captain and was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the 7th Cavalry Regiment in July 1866. He was dispatched to the west in 1867 to fight in the American Indian Wars. On June 25, 1876, while leading the 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana Territory against a coalition of Native American tribes, he and all of his regiment—which included two of his brothers—were killed. The battle is popularly known in American history as "Custer's Last Stand." Custer and his regiment were defeated so decisively at the Little Bighorn that it has overshadowed all of his prior achievements.
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During the 1870s and 80s a widespread slaughter of the American bison decimated the herds to near extinction. The professional hunters used powerful single shot breech-loading rifles, most often in calibre .50, .45 or .44. The most legendary rifle used on the buffalo ranges was, perhaps next to the Springfield Model 1873 \'Trapdoor\' and the Remington rolling block, the legendary Sharps Model 1874.
Published: 5 May 2014 by Øyvind Flatnes.
When Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in France in 1799 the war went into the phase known as the Napoleonic Wars. In 1805 Sweden joined the third coalition against Napoleon, while Norway-Denmark was forced to side with Napoleon after the English attach on Copenhagen in 1807.
The general-issue firearm of the infantry soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars was a smooth-bore muzzle-loading flintlock musket. The soldiers fought in lines, and the muskets were fired simultaneously against enemy formations at close range. The lack of rifling rapidly diminished accuracy at longer ranges. While the far more accurate muzzle-loading rifles were employed successfully by light infantry, rifles were deemed unfit for line infantry due to cumbersome loading procedures and because the average soldier was considered too stupid to load the complicated rifles. The rate of fire was higher with muskets too: A trained infantryman could fire several shots per minute, while a rifle took about a minute to load.
Danish-Norwegian muskets were 16 bore as a standard, while Swedish muskets were 20mm (.78") until 1811 when the calibre was reduced to 18.55 mm (.73"). English muskets were .75 calibre (19.05 mm) and French were .69 (17.5 mm). The balls were deliberately made considerably smaller to enable easy loading even in a badly fouled musket.
The muskets were loaded with paper cartridges containing powder charge and ball. The invention of the paper cartridge is often credited to Swedish King Gustavus II Adolphus (1594–1632) who was the first to put paper cartridges to large scale use during the Thirty Year's War. Previously the muskets were loaded with powder from single charge powder bottles and loose balls from a pouch. The paper cartridges enabled faster loading: The soldier bit or tore a hole in the rear portion of thecartridge, poured a small amount of powder on the pan and poured the rest of the charge down the barrel, followed by the ball. Excessive paper was thrown away or used as wadding.
The video below shows the loading procedure with a blank load, but note the instant ignition. Who said flintlocks were slow?
There were several types of musket cartridges. As a standard the cartridges contained a single ball, but there were cartridges with two balls, one regular ball and three smaller bullets (buckshot) or just buckshot. The Swedish soldiers that fought in the Napoleonic Wars carried 30 cartridges, of which 20 contained one ball, while the remaining ten contained two musket balls
Shooting muskets for accuracy
Today the different black powder associations have several types of smooth-bore musket competitions. MLAIC has completions for replica and original smooth-bore matchlock and flintlock muskets. The competition for the military smooth-bore flintlock musket is called Miquelet. The course of fire is 13 shots from the standing position against a French 200 metre military target in which the ten best shots count. The black is 40cm and the ten ring is 8cm. This is challenging enough with a musket, and rear sights are not allowed. Many countries, including all Scandinavian countries, have competitions for percussion muskets as well.
The replica class is dominated by French and English muskets. Replicas of the English Brown Bess musket are among the most common, but many swear to French muskets. Italian maker Davide Pedersoli makes excellent copies of both. The Brown Bess musket was also used in Sweden during the Napoleonic Wars, because Sweden bought a shipment of 23,000 muskets after 1808, as well as 6.3 million cartridges and 350,000 flints.
While most Norwegian muskets are converted to percussion and the surviving flintlock muskets are valued by collectors, it is easy to find Swedish muskets in good shooting condition. There are many models, but the Model 1815 is regarded the best. It was developed towards the end of the flintlock era and has all the characteristics of a good flintlock musket. It even has a primitive cavity sight on the tang and a cavity for the cheek on the butt stock. Because of the sight the 1815 muskets cannot be used for MLAIC shooting, but muskets made after 1838 were equipped with a new easily removable dovetailed sight. Model 1815-38 muskets with removed sights are allowed in MLAIC competitions. Pre-1838 muskets can be used in Nordic competitions as long as the cavity sight is filled with, for example, plastic padding. Removal of the sight by filing it down is of course forbidden, as it will decrease the historical accuracy of the gun.
Ammunition and loading equipment
Today's shooters almost universally use the patched roundball for competitive shooting. Compared with paper cartridges, the patched roundball is more accurate because the patch takes up the slack between the ball and the barrel walls, in addition to providing a better gas seal. Many shooters achieve great accuracy with thick patches and undersized balls.
Balls and patches
A good advice is to have a mould made by Jeff Tanner in England. His ball moulds are very reasonably prices and he makes it in whichever diameter you want. Although his moulds lack a sprue plate, the sprue is easily cut by a pair of pliers.
In later years the best shooters have started to dimple the musket balls. This is done by rolling the balls between two files, or two pieces of rough abrasive paper. The idea is to copy the principle of golf balls. Like musket balls, golf balls were originally smooth, but golfers noticed that older nicked and bumped balls seemed to fly farther than smooth new balls. The dimples in the balls serve to induce turbulence in the layer of air next to the ball and reduce drag.
Patches can be cut from a strong natural fibre, such as linen or cotton. Denim works perfect. Jeff Tanner's wife Chris provides high quality pre-cut patches in different thicknesses and diameters. In my Model 1815, which has a diameter of 18.6mm (.732"), I use a .700" (17.78mm) ball cast of pure lead and a .031" thick 1.75" (44.5 mm) diameter Tanner patch.
Before use the patches must be lubricated. Some use oils, others grease - for example BoreButter. Saliva or water also work well too.
It is often recommended to use coarse granulations, such as Fg, P or Swiss #5 in large calibre muskets, but faster black powder granulations often work better as long as you reduce the charge. I have used 55 grains of Swiss #2 (FFFg) in my Model 1815 with good results. Often used in pistols and revolvers, this fine-grained powder burns quick and clean and leaves little fouling which is an advantage in competitions that do not allow wiping between shots. Remember to use light charges, since the pressure increases with fine-grained powder.
Coarse granulations work well too. I have achieved good accuracy in my .75 calibre Pedersoli Brown Bess carbine with .735" ball and 80–90 grains Wano P. You can also use a .69 calibre ball in .75 calibre muskets as long as you use a thick patch.
Loading and shooting
Before you load, make sure the barrel, flash hole, flint, pan and frizzen is wiped dry. To save time, soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars always primed the pan before the main charge and ball was loaded. Due to the safety hazard involved in priming before loading, this is practice is unacceptable today's shooting ranges. Some flintlock muskets work best if a needle is inserted into the flash hole before loading, others do not. However, if you use fine powder in muskets with a large flash hole it is an advantage to use a needle to prevent the powder from being blown out of the hole when the ball is seated.
The movie shows the loading procedure of a Model 1815 musket with patched roundball (Norwegian language).
Pour a pre-measured or weighed powder charge down the barrel. A fired patch should not be burnt or torn. To protect the patch, many use a filler, such as semolina or corn meal over the powder. This prevents the hot powder gases from burning holes in the patch.
Finally, when you are ready to shoot, prime the musket by placing priming powder on the pan - usually Swiss #1 or FFFFg (PPPP).
Since most smooth-bore muskets lack a rear sight, a little practice is required to get a correct and consistent sight picture. If the musket has bands they can be used as a reference point during aiming.
But what about accuracy? The last couple of years the world's best musket shooters has been Johan Karlsson of Sweden. Although he has scored 100 points, us mortal souls usually score about 80 to 90 points. The pictured target is shot with the described Model 1815 musket made at Husqvarna and is typical of what can be expected by a smooth-bore flintlock musket and an average shooter.